How Depression Affects the Body

When we talk about depression, a lot of attention is focused on the debilitating effects it has on our mood and emotions. So much so that it’s easy to forget that changes in your brain have a powerful impact on the rest of the body. Knowing this, is it any wonder that depression contributes to a number of physical problems that affect everything from your blood vessels to your digestive system?

According to the National Institute of Mental health, about 6.7 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from depression. Also called major depressive illness or clinical depression, the repercussions of this mental health disorder are much more extensive than feeling sadness, grief, or a sense of guilt. In fact, depression can manifest a number of symptoms in the body that are easy to ignore or dismiss as a result of aging.

Physical symptoms of depression

In addition to a change in mood, those who are depressed often feel tired and tend to have trouble sleeping. Many people with depression also experience chronic headaches and body pains that don’t subside with medication. Other common physical symptoms of depression include decreased interest in sex and other activities that bring pleasure, inability to concentrate, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions.

Surprisingly, depression can have a rather big impact on your digestive system as well. Those who are depressed often cope by overeating, which can lead to weight gain, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Other people fail to eat at all, or binge on junk food as a form of self-soothing. Irregular eating patterns can lead to physical issues in the digestive tract including stomachaches, cramps, and constipation. 

Aside from affecting your mood, thought processes, sleep schedule and digestive system, depression also impacts one of your most vital organs – your heart. When a person is depressed, stress hormones surge through the body, causing the heart rate to quicken and blood vessels to tighten. This puts your body into a prolonged state of emergency, which can eventually lead to severe chest pain, heart attack or stroke. 

What’s more, symptoms of depression, including insomnia, can affect your immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight infection and disease. Some vaccinations, like the shingles vaccine, may even be less effective in adults who suffer from depression. On top of this, depression can also make it harder to follow your doctor’s instructions, take medications, or maintain other aspects of a treatment regimen. 

Are you ready to start your recovery?

At Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego, our team has the skills, knowledge and expertise necessary to help those with a major depressive illness live a full life once again. If you or a loved one suffers from a mental health disorder of any kind, please call us. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs to treat those suffering from depression, and we encourage our patients to include family members in the treatment process. 

Call our 24-hour crisis line at (619) 667-6125 to start your journey towards recovery today.