Depression is a silent killer when ignored. Many people suffering from depression never seek medical attention during their entire lives. They choose to absorb the burden of depression into their different body systems. This can lead to physical symptoms and various diseases at a later stage.
This is a more serious issue than you might think, as depression has many alarming effects on the human body. This article explains how depression can affect your body and cause disability and disease.
The most common effect of depression on the human body relates to sleep. A person in depression may have reduced physical activities and inertia. Lack of interest reduces the urge to work. Emptiness in the mind and feelings of hopelessness or pessimism affect sleep. Often depression patients wake up early in the morning or oversleep. A depressed person remains sleepy during working hours and a serious drop in performance may be noticed.
Generally it is observed that depressed people with acute onset suffer from lack of sleep. Towards the chronic phase, a person in depression tends to oversleep.
Reduced interest in day-to-day activities can confine a person in depression to the couch or bed. He or she often overeats and forgets to stop when full. Calorie intake rises drastically, while fewer calories are burned. Weight gain can be rapid and often difficult to control without treating the depression.
Depression affects relationships, too. One of the most troubling effects of depression is loss of sexual interest or libido. Whether male or female, people with depression can lose interest in their partners. Initially, symptoms may not be so noticeable. But with time, sexual dysfunction, decreased pleasure from sex, and diminished sex drive can become problems for both partners.
Depression often leads to higher levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” as well as epinephrine and norepinephrine. The gradual increase leads to hormonal imbalance and high blood pressure. High blood pressure along with cortisol and cholesterol increases the chances of blockage of arteries. This event is called atherosclerosis.
If you are over 35, are overweight or have an inactive lifestyle, and live with ongoing depression, it might be a good idea to get checked by a cardiologist.
Indigestion and Acidity
Depression and anxiety are potential causes of hypersecretion of gastric acids. These acids can in turn cause gastritis and gastric or duodenal ulcers.
Indigestion and irregular bowel movements can result from hormonal imbalances, disproportionate gastric secretions, and poor eating habits. Abdominal bloating, stomach pain, and vomiting can be symptoms of advanced or prolonged effects of depression.
Pains and Aches
Depression increases chances of tension headache, cluster headache and migraine. It also worsens arthritic pain, common joint pain, or the pain of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
A person with depression can also have a low threshold level for minor aches and pains. In addition, depression makes you sedentary, increasing your chances of backache, deep vein thrombosis, leg edema, and neurotic pains.
Chronic depression can lead to a mental health diagnosis such as dysthymia or major depressive disorder.
Chronic depression may also be associated with other psychological disturbances or mental health disorders:
- loss of long-term memory
- panic attacks
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-partum depression
- substance abuse and dependency
Depression can be the beginning of a more serious issue, but a person may not have much control over it, as it often occurs at the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is always important to find the root cause or trigger of depression.
Diagnosis should be based not only on a formal interview with a mental health professional, but on information provided by collaterals, including parents, teachers, and others who know the person well. The patient’s premorbid personality (prior to illness) must be taken into account, as well as any obvious or subtle stress or trauma that may have preceded the depression. The patient’s bond with the therapist, called the “therapeutic alliance,” is very important in this process.
Depression often improves with treatment. Mild depression can be handled with family support, behavioural therapy, lifestyle changes, and learning skills for managing.
Severe or chronic depression with other underlying health issues needs medical attention as soon as possible.
The plight of people with depression is often quite complex. Friends and families often misunderstand them, criticizing them for laziness or forgetfulness. They may even be ignored or left behind during family functions, gatherings, and outings. But we must not overlook their silent sufferings.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Himadri Goswani is a health blogger and a science graduate from Kolkata, India. Her articles are focused on Healthy Living, Healthy Lifestyle, Mental Health and Physical Fitness. You can find more of her articles on her blog HealthPam.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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