Can Depression Make Someone Physically Sick?
Depression can affect the body just as much as it affects the mind. Those who suffer from the debilitating mental condition might not even realize how deeply depression can penetrate their quality of life. Understanding the full symptoms of depression and the many ways it can negatively manifest in your health is essential to effectively treating the disease as well as its effects.
The Immune System
Depression can compromise the immune system, making the person you more vulnerable to common diseases. Receiving proper treatment allows the immune system to bounce back and properly protect the body from a variety of communicable diseases.
Altered sleep patterns are a common symptom of depression and often lead to other physiological and psychological issues. In addition to an inability to fall asleep, a person who is experiencing depression may also sleep too much during the day. Getting too much or too little sleep can lead leads to greater physical health problems, which can further compromise the immune system. Disrupted sleep patterns and a weakened immune system can negatively affect a person’s relationships, work life and overall social interaction. Some of the most common symptoms of altered sleep and sleep deprivation are listed below.
- Cognitive impairment – Lack of sleep or restlessness leads to decreased cognitive functions and poor memory.
- Occupational risks – Multiple studies show the effects of sleeplessness on ability to perform at work, and workplace injuries rise significantly if you’re experiencing sleep deprivation.
- Slowed alertness – Missing out on even a couple hours of sleep for one night can seriously affect your alertness and decrease your performance of common, daily tasks.
Chronic sleep deprivation puts you at risk for even more serious health issues including high blood pressure, heart attack, irregular heart beat, stroke and diabetes.
Depression is often closely linked to severe, chronic stress and this combination can in turn have dire effects on the heart. High levels of stress hormone leads to the body producing more triglycerides in the bloodstream, which can in turn increases your risk for heart attack and heart disease. Anxiety, coupled with and caused by depression, can tighten blood vessels, increase heart rate and exasperate underlying heart conditions. Any signs of a heart attack, such as tightness in the chest, should be taken seriously and treated by a physician.
Eating more than usual or experiencing a loss of appetite are also symptoms of depression. While one individual may cope with depression through eating, another may lose interest in food and experience rapid weight loss due to lack of proper nutrition. Depressed individuals who overeat are also at risk of experiencing additional health complications, such as diabetes and obesity.
Depression, contrary to popular belief, is not exclusively a disease of the mind. Just as chronic pain can lead to depression, depression can lead to chronic pain. Depression has serious physiological effects that can impact your quality of life and your ability to complete even the most mundane of daily tasks. Some of these chronic pains can be treated with medications, but it is still important to address the underlying cause.
Risk of Suicide or Self Harm
Because of negative emotions such as despair and hopelessness that commonly accompany depression, sufferers are at increased risk of suicide, self-harm and developing harmful addictions to drugs or alcohol to cope. Depression may also compromise judgement and lead depressed individuals into taking unnecessary risks or failing to avoid danger.
Depression’s power comes from its ability to isolate and alienate its victims from their loved ones. Don’t suffer alone. We encourage our patients to take charge of their mental health and seek proper treatment for their depression and any accompanying side effects. Golden Triangle Emergency Center is always open, providing attentive, unbiased care for those who are suffering from health crises. Let us know if you or a loved one has been affected by depression and how you learned to cope.
If you’re struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800) 273-8255 or click here to chat live with a trained professional.