Depression is a term that is part of most people’s vernacular expression and is often not used correctly. People say they are depressed after a bad exam, a poor haircut, rift with a friend etc., but these are trivial problems that are associated more with being down as opposed to being depressed.
A mental health disorder, depression is a form of invisible disability. This debilitating condition causes people to experience extreme despondence to the point where they are not able to function.
Symptoms of depression include being very sad, feeling anxious, losing interest in anything that roused you before, having problems with emotional health, suicide ideation, irritable disposition, feeling guilty and worthless.
If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, then you should consult your doctor at Iqra Medical Complex and get an evaluation from a mental health expert as well.
Unaddressed, depression does not only have implications for your mental health, but physical health as well.
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Physical health and depression
You do turn to food for comfort, and that may also be the case with you when you become depressed. People might start eating more because of their depressive symptoms, in attempts to improve their emotional health. However, they then might also gain weight.
For people already at the brink of obesity, this weight gain might push into the realm of obesity that then can make their mental and physical health worse. Furthermore, as obese people are already at risk for depression, therefore, this might also then exacerbate their condition.
On the other, some people might lose interest in eating, which is also dangerous. Alongside losing weight, their body might not get enough calories and nutrients to sustain itself. This leads to further problems with the physical health.
It is not a coincidence that when you are very stressed and anxious, your stomach hurts; your brain has strong ties with your stomach, which is also then known as your second brain. Any malfunctioning in either then has impact on the other system as well.
Therefore, people who are depressed tend to experience digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea etc. Some might also have nausea as well. Furthermore, as heightened stress levels increase the production of gastric acid, therefore, people with depression are also more likely to develop ulcers.
Those already diagnosed with GERD –gastroesophageal reflux disease – may experience exacerbation in their symptoms. Moreover, depression can also lead to IBS –irritable bowel syndrome –as well.
Since depression causes stress and anxiety, it then increases the propensity towards developing tension headaches. These episodes may be recurrent, and can be strong enough to disrupt normal routine, including sleep.
Issues with musculoskeletal system
Depression can also cause joint pain, and as pain also increases the risk of depression, it starts a feedback loop. Moreover, depression also changes the pain perception as well, which then makes people more sensitive to pain. Lack of activity increases joint stiffness and hence pain.
Our immune system defends us from microbe attack and ailments otherwise. Depression, unfortunately, targets our main defense system, gravely harming our physical health then. It leads to increased inflammation in the body, that leads to heightened risk of chronic ailments like diabetes, heart disease etc.
Having quality shuteye for 7-9 hours is imperative for health. Depression, on the other hand, can lead to problems with sleep, thereby jeopardizing physical health. It can cause insomnia, whereby people are unable to sleep, have interrupted sleep or wake up well before time. Insomnia also then exacerbates the symptoms of depression, alongside further affecting the mood.
Depression does not metaphorically hurt your heart, but literally as well. It leads to greater risk of palpitations and arrhythmia, alongside hypertension, meriting a visit to an Internal Medicine Specialist. It also damages the arteries and increases the risk of heart attack.