Depression and body – how it works?Almost everyone easily recognises symptoms of depression like sadness, feeling depressed, fretfulness and losing interest in previously enjoyed activities. Depression influence not only the emotional but also the psychical side of a person. According to WHO data, depression is a mood disorder for which suffer about 300 million people worldwide. The major symptom of the disease is prolonged low mood. In addition, there might be present anxieties, guilt, low self-esteem which significantly influence our body. How depression influence our body?
Getting or losing weightA depressed person can have decreased appetite what can cause bodyweight loss, malnutrition, vitamins and minerals deficiency. Changes in the organism and dysregulation of hormonal distribution can disturb the menstruation cycle or cause infertility. Furthermore, the lack of nutrients results in lower energy level that can lead to a feeling of exhaustion, nails and hair weakening and lowering self-esteem. Excessive appetite and looking for comfort in overeating can cause obesity, bulimia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
TirednessFeeling tired despite getting rest is often seen as one of the depression symptoms. Tiredness in depression is not an effect of the previous exertion. A person doesn’t know why is so exhausted. It is not a kind of feeling we have after a marathon or long cycling tour or after 1h swimming in a local swimming pool. Depression consumes the person to the amount that putting even the simplest effort is a huge challenge. Sometimes the person is able only to execute an action with the aim of covering her real condition.
Sleeping problemsSleep helps to regenerate our physical vitality and cognitive functions. We sleep for about ⅓ of our life so that sleep quality is one of the most important indicators of quality of living. It is said that 80% of people with depression suffer from insomnia. People who experience insomnia feel drowsy, tired and irritated during a day as well as having troubles with concentration and attention. It can significantly influence school or work performance. Sleeping problems in depression can be prolonged and preserved or revisable. The cause of insomnia can be rapid mood changes or medicine taking. Sleeping problems are claimed to be the crucial criterion of diagnosing depression in all consecutive versions of DSM classification. It is worth mentioning that excessive sleepiness is also taken into consideration when diagnosing major depression.
Chronic painPeople who suffer from depression can experience unexplainable pain, including muscle and joints pain, enhanced tenderness of breast and headache. The person can experience a couple of different pain conditions at the same time. It happens that the condition of the person decreases dramatically. There is no doubt that pain has a negative impact on depression treatment. Intense pain lengthens the time needed to achieve the disease remission and raise the risk of suicidal thoughts. Moreover, the more intense is the pain during the depression episode, the less is the chance of positive response for antidepressants and better functionating of the patient.
Low libidoEvery third man and two in five women in the general population claim experiencing sexual problems. The number is even higher in the population of people with somatic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, hormonal problems and mental disturbance – mood disorders, anxieties, eating disorder or psychotic disorder. In the case of depression, sexual contact stops being pleasurable what can lower the self-esteem of the depressed person even more. The person with depression can feel less attractive. That way, the cycle of lowering libido and perceived attractiveness is going round and round. Sexual disturbances can be improved when adequate treatment is implemented.
Gastric problemsThere is plenty of people suffering from depression who struggle with gastric problems like stomach pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and constipation. Some of those people are diagnosed with IBS – irritable bowel syndrome. In 2016 Swedish researchers published results that IBS might be caused by brain response for stress which in case of depression is suppressing the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) too much. The patients complain of pain in the stomach, bowel movements difficulties as well as the presence of mucus in the droppings and flatulence. The symptoms appear in many different combinations and intensity.
Heart diseasesDepression is a disease which substantially declines the personal motivation to undertake healthy choices. Sitting lifestyle, lacking regular physical activity and high-fat, poor in nutrients and low in fruits and vegetable diet raises the risk of heart diseases. According to the research from 2015, one in five people with cardiac insufficiency or coronary disease suffers from depression. There are two mechanisms suspected to be responsible for high cardiovascular risk – biological and behavioural. Behavioural factors are understood as not following the rules of a “healthy” lifestyle – people who smoke, do not sport or exercises, they don`t take prescribed medicines. Taking about biological factors, there is more and more evidence for the connection between depression and inflammatory reaction of the organism, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system and disabled blood flow of blood in coronary arteries, what can lead to oxygen deprivation and heart attack.
It is important to be aware of the physical symptoms of depression during the treatment process so that professional medical help can be found and applied. Depression is a disease which can be treated. Taking care of our body influences our wellbeing. If you struggle with depression, remember to keep healthy habits that can help to ease the symptoms. Physical activity is especially recommended as it releases endorphins (commonly called “happiness hormones”) and enhancing body temperature which affects the central nervous system.