What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Emotional Symptoms of Depression
The psychological symptoms of depression are often the symptoms that are mistakenly used in place of the illness itself, as explained above with sadness.
The most common emotional symptoms of major depressive disorder include, but are not limited to:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness.
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration.
- Anxiety, worry, or fear.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities (like sex, hobbies, or sports).
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, guilt, and self-blame.
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering.
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Cognitive symptoms that involve negative or distorted thinking are prevalent in depression, while feelings of sadness are not always present in each case. In some cases, people experience anhedonia rather than sadness.
Anhedonia is described as the inability to feel pleasure, especially when partaking in activities usually found enjoyable. Feelings of numbness and emptiness are also commonly expressed by many people with depression.
Physical Symptoms of Depression
The physical symptoms of depression are not quite as well recognized as the emotional symptoms, although they can be just as debilitating, if not more so.
The most common physical symptoms of major depressive disorder include, but are not limited to:
- Sleep disturbances, ranging from insomnia to oversleeping
- Tiredness, fatigue, and exhaustion
- Headaches and migraines
- Reduced appetite with weight loss or increased appetite with weight gain
- Stomach pains and digestion issues
- Agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or movements
- Chest and back pain
- Unexplained physical issues, like back pain or headaches
It is important to pay attention to all of the depression symptoms that you experience, whether you believe they are connected to your depression or not. By focusing on the mental symptoms that are strongly correlated with depression is essentially ignoring everything that your body is physically trying to tell you.
There is often a connection between the mental and physical symptoms of depression. It is often the physical symptoms that are difficult or even impossible to ignore, forcing action on those who would otherwise ignore their body’s warning signs.
How Depression Can Make You Physically Sick
Major depressive disorder takes a significant mental toll on a person, making it difficult to perform the functions of daily living. It is only logical to assume that your body will have a physical response to that level of stress.
For many people, it is when the physical symptoms of depression appear that they decide to take action. Surprisingly, major depressive disorder is underdiagnosed in a primary care setting, but this is precisely where most people turn to when they present with physical symptoms.
The mental or emotional symptoms of depression often present first, but many people ignore these initial feelings and don’t seek medical treatment for the thoughts that they are having.
Depressed patients frequently present with a combination of both emotional and physical symptoms.
A recent international study discovered that approximately 70 percent of depressed patients stated that the only reason why they finally decided to visit their doctor was as a result of the physical symptoms that they were dealing with.
Cardiovascular and Immune System Issues
As depression has a strong correlation to stress, many of the risk factors of long-term exposure to stress are closely related to depression.
When stress hormones are racing through your body, it speeds up your heart rate and makes your blood vessels tighten. This physical reaction to stress keeps your body in a prolonged state of emergency and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Over an extended period of time, this constant exposure to stress hormones can lead to heart disease. Depression is closely linked to the recurrence of cardiovascular problems.
Cardiovascular issues are more common in those with depression than those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and who smoke cigarettes. If left untreated, depression increases your risk of dying after a heart attack.
There are also studies that suggest that depression and stress have a negative impact on the immune system. Once your immune system has been compromised, you will be left vulnerable to many infections and diseases.
Depression and Digestion
Major depressive disorder often has a drastic effect on appetite, nutrition, and digestion. Issues related to appetite and eating vary significantly among those who are depressed.
Some individuals suffer from a loss of appetite due to depression and find it very difficult to eat anything. This makes it very difficult for those affected to consume the correct amount of nutritious foods, causing them to lose weight and diminishing their overall physical well-being.
Others have the opposite issue, as they find the only way to cope with their depression is to eat. Some people who find comfort in food goes too far, partaking in overeating or bingeing, thus increasing their chances of developing obesity-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
Whether affected by an increased appetite or the complete loss of appetite, the poor eating habits connected to depression can lead to physical issues like stomach aches, cramping, constipation, and malnutrition. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet plays an important role in managing and coping with depression.
How many depression symptoms did you identify with? Five or more over a two-week period points towards major depressive disorder.
Next page: How adults are affected by depression and how to cope with the symptoms of depression.