|According to WebMD, common symptoms of depression can make work and daily life almost impossible.
Depression can skew your view of the world, making everything seem hopeless. Depression can make you feel utterly alone.
But you're not. Major depression affects about 14 million American adults or about 6.7% of the population 18 or older in any given year. And the good news is a lot of treatments work to reduce depression symptoms, and some experts claim depression can be "cured" as well.
Effects of Depression
You may already know some of the emotional and psychological effects of depression. They include:
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or numb. These feelings are with you most of the day, every day.
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. You might no longer bother with hobbies that you used to love. You might not like being around friends. You might lose interest in your partner.
- Irritability or anxiety. You might be short-tempered and find it hard to relax.
- Trouble making decisions. Depression can make it hard to think clearly or concentrate. Making a simple choice can seem overwhelming.
- Feeling guilty or worthless. These feelings are often exaggerated or inappropriate to the situation. You might feel guilty for things that aren't your fault or that you have no control over. Or you may feel intense guilt for minor mistakes.
- Thoughts of death and suicide. The types of thoughts vary. Some people wish that they were dead, feeling that the world would be better off without them. Others make very explicit plans to hurt themselves.
There are also physical symptoms of stress, which include:
- Headaches. These are fairly common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may become worse if you're depressed.
- Back pain. If you already suffer with back pain, it may get worse if you become depressed.
- Muscle aches and joint pain. Depression can make any kind of chronic pain worse.
- Chest pain. Obviously, it's very important to get chest pain checked out by an expert right away. It can be a sign of serious heart problems. But chest pain is also associated with depression.
- Digestive problems. You might feel queasy or nauseous. You might have diarrhea or become chronically constipated.
- Exhaustion and fatigue. No matter how much you sleep, you may still feel tired or worn out. Getting out of the bed in the morning may seem very hard, even impossible.
- Sleeping problems. Many people with depression can't sleep well anymore. They wake up too early or can't fall asleep when they go to bed. Others sleep much more than normal.
- Change in appetite or weight. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight. Others find they crave certain foods -- like carbohydrates -- and weigh more.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
Many depressed people never get help, because they don't know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression. A lot of doctors miss the symptoms, too. These physical symptoms aren't "all in your head." Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems.
Depression seems to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in your brain. Some of these same chemicals play an important role in how you feel pain. So many experts think that depression can make you feel pain differently than other people.
Treating Physical Symptoms
In some cases, treating your depression -- with therapy or medicine or both -- will resolve your physical symptoms.
But make sure to tell your health care provider about any physical symptoms. Don't assume they'll go away on their own. They may need additional treatment. For instance, your doctor may suggest an anti-anxiety medicine if you have insomnia. Those drugs help you relax and may allow you to sleep better.
Since pain and depression go together, sometimes easing your pain may help with your depression. Some antidepressants may help with chronic pain, too.
Other treatments can also help with painful symptoms. Certain types of focused therapy -- like cognitive behavioral -- can teach you ways to cope better with the pain.