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Can depression make you sick?


This mood disorder causes a number of emotional symptoms, including persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in things you enjoy. Depression can also cause physical symptoms.

Depression can make you sick and cause symptoms like fatigue, headaches, aches and pains. Depression is not just a state of blues, it requires treatment.


How can depression make you physically ill?

There are several ways that depression can make you physically ill. Here are the different physical symptoms and why they occur.

Diarrhea, stomach and ulcers

Your brain and your gastrointestinal (GI) system are directly connected. Depression, anxiety, and stress have been shown to affect GI tract motility and contractions, which can cause diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Your emotions may affect the production of stomach acid, which can increase your risk of developing ulcers. There is some evidence that stress can cause or worsen acid reflux.There also seems to be a link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and anxiety. Depression is also associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Sleep disturbance

Sleep problems are a common symptom of depression. This can include having trouble falling or staying asleep, and unproductive or restless sleep.

There is significant evidence linking depression and sleep problems. Depression can cause or worsen insomnia, and insomnia can increase the risk of depression.

The effects of insomnia can worsen other symptoms of depression, such as stress and anxiety, headaches and a weakened immune system.

Immune system disorders

Depression affects your immune system in several ways. While you sleep, your immune system produces cytokines and other substances that help your body fight infection. Insomnia, a common symptom of depression, disrupts this process and increases the risk of infection and disease.

There is also evidence that depression and stress are linked to inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays an important role in the development of several diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.


Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Depression and stress are closely related, and both have been shown to affect the heart and blood pressure. Untreated stress and depression can cause:

  • irregular heart rhythm
  • high blood pressure
  • arterial damage
  • Be hungry or hungry

Your mood can affect your diet. For some, depression leads to unemployment, which can lead to unnecessary fatigue.

For others with depression, their feelings of hopelessness can lead to poor eating habits and a loss of interest in exercise. It is also common to reach for foods that contain sugar, fat, and starchy carbohydrates. Increased activity and weight gain are also side effects of some medications for depression.


Symptoms such as depression and stress and anxiety have been shown to cause tension headaches. Depression appears to increase the risk of headache recurrence of severe intensity and duration. Poor sleep can contribute to frequent or severe headaches.

Muscle and joint pain

There is a proven link between depression and pain that can lead to depression. Back pain and joint and muscle pain are other common physical symptoms of depression. Depression and other mood disorders have been shown to alter the perception of pain, which can exacerbate or exacerbate pain. Frequent fatigue and loss of interest in depression can lead to lack of activity. This inactivity can lead to muscle and joint pain and stiffness.


Can depression make you sick?

Depression increases the risk of physical illness in almost every body system. In many cases, the physical symptoms of depression can be mistaken for a physical disorder or illness rather than an emotional one. This confusion increases the risk of undiagnosed and untreated depression, leading to worsening health conditions.

Physical symptoms of depression include:


Aches and pains are considered the most common physical symptoms of depression. The pain caused by depression can range from mild to severe, and studies show that the more pain and suffering a person experiences, the more severe the depression. Dysregulation of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain is the biological cause of the physical pain experienced in depression.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

Depression and stress hormones – can affect gut sensitivity, stomach emptying, and the motility of your GI tract, leading to stomach acid production, all of which can cause indigestion. In some severe cases, depression and stress can lead to peptic ulcer and irritable bowel syndrome.

New research shows that depression can affect the growth and development of “good bacteria” in the gut. These bacteria help keep you healthy and your immune system strong—without them, you can be more susceptible to illness and infection.

Sleep problems

Many people with depression will have trouble sleeping. This can include struggling to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night, sleeping too little, or sleeping too much.

Sleep disorders can be caused by impaired brain function and certain chemicals. Chemicals can be activated or deactivated at inappropriate times, affecting sleep. As a result, lack of sleep has a ripple effect and can make your depressive symptoms worse.


These studies show that increased stress hormones and lack of sleep can reduce the immune system’s ability to fight invaders, pathogens and tumor cells by reducing the level of active immune cells in the body.

This can cause you to get sick more often and for longer. The researchers concluded that the more severe the depression, the lower the immune cells.


Fatigue is a common physical symptom of depression and is different from everyday fatigue. Although sleep problems can be part of the cause of fatigue, depression fatigue cannot be cured by sleep or getting plenty of rest – it is considered more complicated. Dopamine and norepinephrine dysfunction may contribute to depression-related fatigue.



Diagnosing depression begins with your doctor asking you about your symptoms. You must experience your symptoms for at least two weeks before a doctor can diagnose depression. All five of these must be present for diagnosis, and at least one of the symptoms is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

Nine Signs:

  1. Sleep disturbance
  2. Decreased interest / pleasure
  3. Guilty feelings or negative thoughts
  4. Changes in energy / fatigue
  5. Impaired concentration/attention
  6. Work / weight varies
  7. Psychomotor disorders
  8. Suicidal thoughts
  9. Depression



Finding relief from the physical symptoms of depression may require more than one treatment. Although some antidepressants can relieve some of your physical symptoms, such as pain, other symptoms must be treated on their own. Doctors can often treat severe cases with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. However, if a person’s symptoms do not improve with these approaches, doctors may consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation methods.


Doctors prescribe antidepressants to improve a person’s mood. A person has to try different antidepressants before finding the one that works and has the mildest effects.

These medications often take up to a month to work, and a person may notice improvements in sleep, work, and concentration problems sooner than in their heart. Therefore, you need to give antidepressants enough time to have a positive effect.


Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. Antidepressants help target pathways in the brain and spinal cord that mediate pain and depression, which helps relieve physical symptoms.

Over-the-counter medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, can help relieve pain from physical symptoms. However, it is important to first talk to your doctor about the best treatment to relieve your symptoms.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people with depression by changing their thoughts and behaviors to better manage their symptoms. It helps people break negative thought cycles and can help them manage their emotions.

Brain stimulation therapy

If other approaches fail to reduce depressive symptoms, doctors may consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This type of treatment can provide relief to people suffering from severe depression.

ECT is an outpatient procedure that usually involves general anesthesia and muscle relaxation. It usually consists of several sessions, usually three times a week for up to four weeks. It is not a painful procedure and the person cannot feel the electrical impulses.

However, ECT can cause short-term side effects such as confusion and memory loss.

Behavior therapy

Educational therapy, personality therapy, and other types of behavioral therapy have been shown to help treat mood disorders and pain. Educational therapy is an effective treatment for chronic insomnia.

Stress reduction

Ways to reduce stress and help with the physical and emotional symptoms of depression:

  • training
  • order
  • yoga
  • meditation

Other medicines

Anti-inflammatory or over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, can help with headaches and muscle and joint pain. Muscle relaxation can help with back pain and tight neck and shoulder muscles. In addition to relieving anxiety, this type of medication can reduce muscle spasms and help with sleep.


Natural remedies

People may find that lifestyle changes improve their depression, Trusted Source. Possible changes include:

  • increased level of physical activity
  • reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • smoking less or quitting altogether
  • improve sleep patterns
  • develop positive, supportive relationships
  • spend time in nature

The following options may be valuable for some people living with depression.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

Omega-3 essential fatty acids can ease mental health symptoms, including depression. However, the evidence supporting this dietary supplement is thin. Although some studies have found promising evidence for omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depression, others have not found significant results.

That said, the risks of using these supplements are low, so people may consider trying them with other depression medications.

Kava kava

Kava kava is a traditional herbal medicine. People who use monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) should not use kava because these effects may increase. Although its interactions with other antidepressant medications are unknown, people should always seek medical advice before using kava kava.

Treat animals

There is peer-to-peer psychotherapy (EAP), which helps people improve their mood and change negative behavior through caring and riding horses. Although hard scientific evidence is lacking, some research shows that horse-based therapy can ease symptoms of depression and other mental problems.

Other depressive symptoms

If a person experiences the following symptoms all day, almost every day, for at least two weeks, a doctor can diagnose them with depression:

  • continue to be sad
  • space
  • anger
  • guilty
  • desperate
  • low energy
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • in work and weight changes
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • move or speak slowly


When you should see a doctor

You must have two weeks of symptoms to receive a diagnosis of depression. See your doctor for physical symptoms that do not improve within two weeks. Go for immediate checkup if you feel any of these symptoms.


The bottom line

Depression can be really physically debilitating. If you believe you may be suffering from depression or you are not sure how you feel, it is important to talk to your doctor, because treating your symptoms early can help you recover faster. Your doctor will tell you the suitable medications.


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