Thanks to open conversation, mental health has become a topic that more people are talking about without attaching stigma to it. There is a rise in the number of people approaching professionals for help in dealing with their mental illnesses, which is beneficial for everyone who is involved in the battle against mental illness. Most of us assume that mental illnesses come with symptoms that mostly relate to the mind, but the mind-body connection is a very strong one. The mental distress spills over into the physical realm, and cause a lot of physical distress too. Doctors use the physical markers of depression often to be able to assess and diagnose the intensity of someone’s depressive episode. Below are some of the most commonly occurring physical symptoms that come with depression:
1. Sleep Disturbances
One of the major symptoms of depression is insomnia or sleep disturbances. It can show up as difficulty in falling asleep or difficulty in maintaining sleep. You might wake up without reason in the middle of the night, or at odd times like 4 a.m. without being able to fall back asleep again. This usually happens because there are too many thoughts in your head, and it you find no way to “switch them off”. They tend to constantly disturb you, even when you are asleep.
Fatigue is a significant marker for depression too, and is made worse due to the insomnia or sleep disturbance that is already present. There is always a “fog” around your head, and there is a lack of energy to do tasks. Moreover, even if you do manage to get something done, it can lead to exhaustion and an inability to continue with any other tasks. Most often, it doesn’t show up as intense tiredness but more as a continuous and prolonged lack of energy, motivation and drive that is coupled with physical exhaustion.
3. Appetite Issues
With depression, there can either be a loss of appetite or an overactive appetite. A lot of people turn to comfort eating to make themselves feel better, and this can get out of hand and lead to weight gain and health issues in the long run. Many people also feel no desire to eat, and then become malnourished and lose weight rapidly. Both these scenarios are harmful for the person, as they only lead to more problems in managing the depression. It is important to have the right nutrition when you are fatigued, and a balanced diet may even help to improve your mood.
4. Poor Libido
With depression comes a lot of related issues, such as lower confidence levels and plummeting self esteem. At its peak, depression can lead to a lower sexual drive or a complete loss of interest in sex because of low self esteem. You may feel like you aren’t attractive enough anymore, or that it isn’t worth it to work at a relationship because you don’t deserve to be happy. There are many thoughts, or a combination of thoughts that can lead to this, but talking to a mental health professional might help to sort through the issues.
5. Aches And Pains
Your body might suffer from various aches and pains, such as headaches or joint pains, that cannot be explained and keep recurring. It is always better to approach a doctor to rule out any other causes before you decide that it is depression. However, if you find that any sort of medication or topical agent is only temporarily helping ease the pain when you are battling a mental illness, it might be due to the depression.
6. Psychomotor Retardation
When someone is suffering from depression, they might become “slower” in the literal sense. They might be slow to move, and also have slower speech when they talk. It is known as psychomotor retardation and is a common symptom for many people, and shows up when the depression is taking a huge toll on the person. If you haven’t approached a doctor already, it might be time to do so.
7. Agitation/ Restlessness
This symptom is the opposite of the last one, and many people’s symptoms manifest as restlessness instead of psychomotor retardation. You might have trouble sitting still in one place, especially because it might seem painful to do so. There is no place or position that feels comfortable, and it might even make you angry that you have to be so restless and lash out due to trivial issues.
8. Lack Of Concentration
Concentration is needed to get almost everything done in our daily activities, but when you are depressed, you don’t care about doing anything. You might constantly make mistakes in your work, or have trouble staying focused on one task. In the long run, it will start taking a toll on your overall profession and might even cause you to give up work entirely.
9. Digestion Problems
Digestive problems are another important marker of depression. Uncomfortable churning in the stomach, sudden and unexplained nausea, bloating, diarrhea or even constipation can show up when our negative emotions begin to affect us in deeper ways. There might be a direct link between the gut and the brain during the peak of depression, which is thought to cause the stomach discomfort. You may treat the problems with medication, but until the root is taken care of, the problems will keep recurring.