Depression can take a toll on your body, too

October 27, 2016 | by Fatima Ali, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

It is okay to feel sad and lonely from time to time — we all do. But when these feelings prevent you from living your life, then you could be suffering from depression.

Depression can make you feel anxious, restless, tired and empty. It can also take a toll on your body.

Some physical symptoms that occur as a result of depression include: losing or gaining weight, insomnia or sleeping too much, aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems. But there’s more.

The risk of developing some physical illnesses is higher in people with depression. For example, depression may increase risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Researchers have also found that depression may change the way different systems in the body function and impact physical health by causing:

  • Increased inflammation
  • Changes in heart rate and blood circulation control
  • Abnormalities in stress hormones
  • Metabolic changes similar to those in people at risk for diabetes

Different factors contribute to depression, such as genetics, changes in hormone levels and life circumstances. Not surprisingly, people with a medical illness or condition, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain or any chronic medical condition, are more likely to suffer from depression. For others, conditions such as stroke can cause changes in the brain that can trigger symptoms of depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that if you suffer from both depression and another medical illness, you may have more severe symptoms of both illnesses. Columbia Psychiatry asserts that if depression goes untreated, it can increase the risk of dying after a heart attack, so heart patients who are depressed should keep their cardiologist informed.

With all of this being said, there is an upside. Depression is treatable and you can get help for it.

It’s so important for all of us to keep our doctors informed about how we’re feeling both physically and emotionally. We’ve seen how depression can take its toll on the body, so treatment is a must in order to live as healthy as possible.

If you find yourself suffering from symptoms of depression, the best thing you can do is to seek help sooner rather than later. Call your doctor and figure out what your next step is so that you can get your life back on track and can enjoy work, leisure, friends and family again.

Are you at risk for depression? Take our free, online Depression Aware test.

Learn more about Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

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