Warning Signs of Depression You Would Never Expect

young african nurse comforting female patientDepression is a mental health condition, right? Well, yes and no. Obviously depression has an impact on mental well-being—possibly causing sadness, low moods, lack of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness and more. But the symptoms don’t stop there. Being depressed can also show itself in a physical way, leading to headaches, back pain, achy muscles, joint pain, chest pain, digestive issues, exhaustion, trouble sleeping and a host of other physical issues.

Why the connection? Experts don’t know for sure, but the emotional parts of the brain that are affected by depression also help the body perceive pain. Because of that connection, depression can change the way you feel physical pain (as in, you become more sensitive to it). Researchers also believe that depression alters the state of your blood platelets, possibly explaining the link between depression, heart disease and other cardiac problems.

Because of the physical components, depression is one of the most common reasons people go in to see their primary care physician or miss work. They think there’s something wrong with their physical health, but the cause of their aches and pains may be due to their depression.

The fact that depression has physical symptoms is actually a barrier to treatment. Symptoms like back pain and headaches could be due to a lot of different things, so most sufferers (and many doctors) don’t diagnose them as being caused by depression. The important thing to realize is that no two cases of depression are identical. That’s why it’s necessary to be aware of all the different possible signs–it can make all the difference in getting help for you or a loved one.



Photo credit: James Palinsad

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