Can Depression Make You Sick?

Can Depression Make You Sick?

If you're wondering can depression make you sick? The answer is yes. Depression can make you very sick.

People typically associate depression with emotions: overwhelming feelings like sadness, loneliness, emptiness, and hopelessness. 

But, depression doesn't just affect your emotions. It also affects your physical body.

And, some of the emotional and psychological effects are caused by the physical changes that depression creates in your body.

Your brain, body, and emotions all come together to form a whole you. 

If one is affected, then the rest are affected. 

Understanding how depression can make you sick is the first step. 

This article details some of the ways in which depression affects your body and can make you sick.

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Depression Makes Your Body Sick

Research shows that depression and inflammation are highly linked, although which causes are still unknown.

This means that if you're struggling with depression, you are probably also dealing with inflammation. 

Treating inflammation may even lessen your overall symptoms of depression.

Of course, inflammation affects your whole body's ability to function. 

Some research shows that inflammation (even that caused by depression) can lead to the development of other issues such as heart disease, cancer, and type-2 diabetes.

Depression has also been shown to reduce your body's level of immunity. 

Your immune system is the way that your body protects itself. 

People with impaired immune systems are more likely to get sick and to stay sick for longer periods of time.

Many people with depression also experience heart issues and high blood pressure. 

Research shows that depression is more common in people with high blood pressure.

Depression can also lead to more serious cardiac issues such as damage to the arteries and irregular heart rhythms. 

Depression Causes Stomach Issues

Your brain affects all parts of your body; however, the brain is directly linked to your gastrointestinal system (GI).

This means that depression causes stomach issues by affecting you GI tract's ability to move and contract which causes nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. 

If you've been noticing disruptions to your bowel movements or been experiencing stomach pain, it could be depression.


Research shows that our emotions and moods affect our production of acid in the stomach. 

This means that you might be more likely to develop ulcers or acid reflux. 

Depression Causes Sleep & Eating Disruptions

Everyone knows that one of the most common symptoms of depression is disruptions to your normal sleep patterns. 

The body of evidence that depression affects sleep is undeniable. 


For example, those who suffer from depression are most likely to experience insomnia and those who have insomnia are also very likely to develop depression. 

When you're asleep, your immune system is supposed to produce substances to fight infection and illness. 

When you're depressed, your weakened immune system loses this ability. 

This means that when depression causes you to lose sleep, it increases your chances of getting sick.


Depression has also been shown to affect appetite, hunger, and weight. 

Studies show that your mood has a big impact on your diet.

Depression hits appetite at both ends of the spectrum. 

Some people who experience depression have a loss of appetite. 

This leads to rapid weight loss. 

For other people with depression, their lowered mood could cause them to make poor dietary choices, lose interest in exercise, and binge eat to mask the uncomfortable emotions that depression causes.


Research also shows a link between obesity and depression. 

Although it is still unclear which causes which, 40% of people who are depressed are also obese.

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Depression Causes Physical Changes to the Brain

Depression is known to cause changes to your emotions, but it can also cause physical changes to the brain.

This can result in a lack of oxygen, inflammation, and even shrinkage in the actual size of your brain. 

Of course, changes to your brain affect your cognitive abilities. 

This can lead to decreased memory, the ability to accomplish tasks, the ability to pay attention, and the executive skills which help you make decisions, plan, and problem solve.


According to research by the National Headache Foundation, up to 60% of people with depression also suffer from headaches. 

This can be from depression-related stress and anxiety which trigger tension headaches.

People with depression are also more likely to experience frequent or severe headaches.

Depression Causes Pain

Research shows that depression causes pain and that pain causes depression. 

One of the most common effects of depression on the body is a persistent feeling of fatigue. 

This is often accompanied by a numbness throughout the whole body and/or the type of achiness that is typically associated with the flu.


Another very common form of pain that depression causes is back pain. 

Many people slouch over when depressed or avoid exercise which can lead to muscle stiffness and pain.

Depression has also been shown to result in joint pain. 

This may be from increased inflammation discussed earlier in the article. 

People with depression are also likely to be less active which can cause stiff joints that become painful over time.


Stretching is something you can start doing right away to combat the pain caused by depression. 

Stress reduction has also been shown to have a positive impact on pain.

Conclusion

Yes, depression can make you sick.

If you're suffering from some of the physical effects described in this article, they may be being caused by your depression.


But, don't worry. 

If depression is making you sick, then treating your depression is the fastest way to get well. 

You can take steps to lessen some of these effects now, but treating your depression should come first. 

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December 7th, 2022