If you talk to anyone who's dealt with clinical depression, they'll tell you that it isn't just feeling sad. Everyone has days where they're not as happy as they want to be, but clinical depression is an often-debilitating mood disorder that can lead to suicide and often requires long-term treatment. I've lived with clinical depression since I was 11 years old, so I'm well aware of depression's side effects, but I had no idea just how many physical symptoms are also signs of depression. You probably already knew that depression can completely change your mental state, but it can also radically change your physical well-being.
Depression is often associated with not getting out of bed, but the way it affects people physically is more complex. It can interfere with your digestive and musculoskeletal systems, along with your sleep schedule. If you think you're experiencing symptoms of depression, it's important to talk to a doctor about what you're feeling and how to best treat it. Even if you aren't diagnosed with clinical depression, you'll know more about what's wrong after talking to a medical professional. If you're wondering whether your physical health is related to a mental health condition, check out some of these depression symptoms you're probably unfamiliar with.
According to a report from Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of depression. Depression-related fatigue is more than just feeling tired. According to Dr. Maurizio Fava, who is quoted in the study, fatigue may cause "reduced activity, low energy, tiredness, decreased physical endurance, increased effort to do physical tasks, general weakness, heaviness, slowness" and more.
2. Change In Appetite
Whether you're suddenly hungry all the time or no longer feel motivated to eat your favorite foods, depression can affect your appetite in unexpected ways. You may lose interest in eating because of depression, or you might overeat thanks to your symptoms.
3. Joint Pain
Although researchers are still figuring out the connection between joint pain and depression, one study found that depression can worsen arthritis pain. Interestingly, people with depression might feel pain even after getting knee replacement surgery. If you're having serious joint pain that isn't going away, depression could be a possible reason why.
If your head is regularly throbbing, you could be suffering from a tension headache, which results from your neck and head muscles get too tense. Tension headaches are often seen in patients who are clinically depressed, so unexplained head pain could be a sign that something more serious is going on. Even if it isn't depression, you should definitely get checked out if you begin to have headaches out of the blue.
5. Digestive Problems
You already knew that your emotions can influence your digestive system — think about the butterflies you get in your stomach when something nerve-racking happens. But when you're dealing with depression, you might regularly feel nauseous or even develop diarrhea or constipation. If these symptoms come out of nowhere and you're also experiencing mental distress, it's definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about.
Not getting enough sleep is simply annoying if it happens once in a while, but insomniac symptoms can have a profound effect on your life. While some people who are clinically depressed end up oversleeping from the fatigue mentioned above, it's also common to have trouble falling asleep. If you can't get enough sleep, it could be caused by something other than depression, but it's definitely something to keep in mind when you chat with a medical professional.
7. Body Aches
Feeling achy is often associated with the flu, but if you have body aches that come from nowhere, it could be a sign of depression. Whether it's an ache in your chest or just sore muscles, depression has been linked to physical achiness.
It's super important that you don't diagnose yourself with a condition —that's what doctors are for. But if you're having physical trouble and can't find an explanation, depression could be the cause.