Depression causes you to have low mood, leaving you irritable and feeling persistently hopeless and helpless. What depression does to your body is something that has been researched and linked to many physical conditions such as heart disease, inflammation, and chronic pain.

You might not realize that depression takes a toll on your body, especially if you’ve been dealing with it for a long time.

Symptoms of depression can be part of grief from the death of a loved one. It can also come from trauma, as in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’ve been depressed for longer than 2 weeks, it can be a sign of a serious depressive disorder. If this has ever happened to you, it’s also good to know what depression does to your body. Getting treatment is necessary for remaining in good physical health.

Stress And What Depression Does To Your Body

According to research published in 2016, depression changes the brain’s response to stress.  It does this by uppressing activity in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.

Depression increases your levels of stress hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline. Depression and stress are closely related. Stress hormones speed heart rate and make blood vessels tighten, putting your body in a prolonged state of emergency. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.

Heart Health

When you are depressed, it can be difficult to down right impossible to have any desire to take care of yourself. So, you don’t have any motivation to make good lifestyle choices, like eating right and exercising. Your risk for heart disease increases when you eat a poor diet and have a sedentary lifestyle.

According to research published in 2015, one in five people with heart failure or coronary artery disease has depression.
A Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist explained that 40-60% of heart disease patients suffer clinical depression. 30-50% of patients who suffer clinical depression are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Serious Illness

Many serious illnesses coexist with what depression does to your body. For example, depression often causes insomnia which can weaken your immune system. This can make existing illnesses worse. Being ill can also be a cause of depression.

Chronic illnesses may already feel isolating or stressful, and depression may exacerbate these feelings. Following a treatment plan for an illness can be difficult if you are depressed. Depression and illness can also lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

What Depression Does To Your Body And Your Weight

If you are depressed, what depression does to your body can cause you to experience weight loss or gain. Health problems associated with weight gain include diabetes and heart disease. Coping mechanisms such as overeating or binge eating can cause health problems as well as affect your self esteem. Weight loss can harm your heart, affect fertility, cause anorexia and make you feel tired all the time.

Eating the right amount of nutritious food is what is best for your immune system. Eating issues brought on by depression can lead to stomach aches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), cramps and constipation.

Pain

People with depression may experience muscle and joint pain as well as headaches. One study found that people with depression are 60% more likely to develop lower back pain. The study analyzed data from 11 studies covering a total of 23,109 people, and found a link between depression and lower back pain. The more severe your depression, the more the back pain increased.

Inflammation

Research indicates that chronic stress and depression are linked to inflammation. People with depression also have more autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes and arthritis. It’s not clear which came first, depression of chronic inflammation, but we do know that they are linked.

The longer your depression goes untreated, the higher levels of brain inflammation. The inflammation affects the areas of the brain, such as the pre-frontal cortex, that control reasoning and executive function. So these areas of the brain are compromised by depression.

Sexual Health

What depression does to your body is it can decrease your libido. This negatively effects your sexual health and your relationship. When your relationship isn’t happy, this can feed into your depression and becomes a vicious cycle.

What Depression Does To Your Body And How To Overcome It

There are a few things you can do to help your depression. The link between exercise and mood is strong. After you exercise, your mood will be better. Regular exercise can help alleviate long term depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also helps by challenging negative thoughts.  Learning how to talk to yourself differently is key. Some people are way too hard on themselves. This makes it difficult to take action because you feel paralyzed. You may need to look at what is and isn’t working in your life and determine what you need to change.

In therapy, we look at how you procrastinate, your belief systems and your self-defeating thoughts. You might have lots of ‘shoulds’ and rules about life that you need to examine. Sometimes, you might be so perfectionistic that you can’t make a move!

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback helps to calm your nervous system. Then, you feel more resilient and positive which helps what depression does to your body. This makes it easier to take action and make the changes that will start you on the road to recovery. It makes your body feel very calm and relaxed.

Neurofeedback is brain training to increase self-regulation and brain function. Certain very slow brain waves help the brain have a nice resting state.  When the brain has this grounded resting state, you are able to handle whatever happens to you in life with much more ease. This is what we mean by resiliency.

Many people’s resting state has been compromised by trauma, depression, anxiety, exceptional stress, even challenges from birth (like migraine headaches). Neurofeedback can help. Neurofeedback helps the brain gradually learn to function more efficiently.

EMDR Helps What Depression Does To Your Body

If your depression has it’s roots in trauma, I might suggest that we target traumatic events using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing EMDR. EMDR desensitizes you to the trauma by reprocessing it in your mind.

Events that are traumatic can stick around and bother you for a long time after. Sometimes these feelings will sneak up on you and before you realize it, you are over-reacting or isolating and feeling depressed.

If you live near Santa Monica or Torrance, California, can relate to what I’m saying in this article, and you think that I might be able to help, please feel free to contact me on my confidential voicemail 310-314-6933 or by email mfoxmft@yahoo.com.