Does depression have an effect on the body?

Depression is a mood disorder, the affect becomes dysregulated. What do you think about when thinking about someone who deals with depression? Maybe a person who is very sad, with a dark cloud around their head, comes to mind. That is true but depression[1], especially when left untreated, can and will spill over to your body [3].

 

In older people it is difficult but absolutely necessary to differentiate between dementia and depression. Someone who is dealing with depression can display symptoms who are also seen in (early)dementia but treatment and approach vary greatly. Depression can be accompanied by memory loss and a slower reaction time.

 

Depression can cause or be the result of sleeping difficulties. If you are interested I’ve written posts about that ‘On sleep and what nature has to do with it’ and ‘Why can’t I just sleep? Depression and insomnia’ .

 

During depression the thoughts in your head may be so consuming and the fight you put up against the darkest of clouds can suck all the energy out of you. I know I have no compassion left for others when I’m feeling on the verge as it is.

 

Your body can feel tense and you hold on to that tension. With depression, it is like that for me, I’m unable to unload that tension but I keep it with me. I get pains and aches everywhere. And headaches, the bigger the stress, the bigger the headache!

 

With loss of the ability to feel pleasure one may be less engaged in physical activities that used to bring relief. When you obtain nothing from walking the dog and you think about how fun it used to be, it may become less and less attractive. The same goes for sexual pleasure. Depression doesn’t make you feel sexy, believe you me. Living mostly in your head doesn’t help to connect to the body either.

 

I lost the connection to my body. I know that I have one. There you go. And that is it. My body is a house that I live in and it works actually amazing for the little care I put into in. But as it goes with older houses that are unkept, renovations are necessary. At this point in time I don’t have an architect. I want to make a home from my house but  I have no clue how to connect to my body. If anyone has some tips on this one, please share in the comments!

 

Some people find temporary relief in alcohol or other substances. Next to being in danger of developing a dependence, it is not the healthiest thing to undertake. I will not tell anybody to use (illegal) substances as a crutch but I can understand. When you are left in the dark about what is really going on or you know but treatment is difficult, you’re still searching what may be the best option for you, when life happens… you find that  sometimes a quick relief makes life bearable. Substances take a toll on your health in the longer perspective. Quitting cold turkey or try to manage up enough energy to cope with stress that comes with life style changes may not be compatible while living under the dark blanket.

 

 

The rythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the and harmony of the soul, create the symphony of life.

B.K.S Yengar.

 

 

Caring for your body isn’t your number one.

 

To start with food, I eat or too much and unhealthy (why are fried or chocolate things so appealing to me? But the nicest apple on the rack doesn’t spark any joy at all!) or nothing at all. My digestive system suffers too. I collect ‘easy recipes for difficult days’ (you can look them up in the ‘menu’) where I try to cook up something good with not the greatest of efforts. If you know recipes that call for minimal effort, please share.

 

Personal hygiene isn’t that easy or ‘normal’ as it seemed before. But your teeth still decay and your hair keeps growing or it can fall out due to stress. That isn’t a solution btw.

 

Depression and stress do like each other. Depression increases your risk for a heart attack. The other way around 15% of people with heart disease develop depression[2].

 

Depression and stress put a strain on your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to diseases. I found this very unfortunate because you’re not only left to deal with your sadness, mood swings, anhedonia but there is also the stigma to deal with and now you have a runny nose, a stuffed head and a cough that doesn’t seem to disappear. On a positive note, I find it a relief to experience a different kind of headache once in a while. Not the headache from stress but from snot living above my eyes. At some point, this makes me feel more ‘normal’ to be ‘just’ sick like other people during flu season. It may sound weird but hey, that’s my take on it.

 

Personally I feel (yeey!) that my depression is a ‘disease’ of the heart. My feelings weren’t  in tune with me. I focused so much on other people and ran away from my own needs. Actually I don’t know what my needs are and I don’t know how to make them known to others. As I feel it, my heart stopped caring, it was just done and exhausted. My brain took over and ran out of fuel too after a while. I was left with nothing except the hope to recover one day and I will.

 

 

References:

[1]  I believe that mind and body are connected, any mental struggle will have its effect on the body. As I write about depression I will focus on that in this post.

[2] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16917-depression–heart-disease

[3] https://www.healthline.com/health//effects-on-body#7

 

Photo credit: click here

 

12 thoughts on “Does depression have an effect on the body?

  1. Depression can lead to unexplained aches and pains. Other problems include sleep disturbances and cognitive problems. It’s made worse when you can’t sleep and once I can sleep symptoms can be alleviated. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I found that too about the unexplained aches and pains. I’m glad that it is a ‘real’ thing because when you or others around don’t realize this, they or yourself can doubt what you are feeling. Before I knew this I thought I was overly sensitive. Sleeping is very very important. Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My body is rarely happy when I’m depressed. The exact reaction can vary – sometimes it’s my menstrual cycle getting out of whack, and sometimes it’s my gastrointestinal system deciding it hates me. But there’s almost always something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes it feels to me like there is no connection at all because I don’t feel anything. My body does this strange things on its own. Like you said, always something surprising. I get the headaches but also my eyes react (tired, blurry vision) and last week I didn’t see through one eye for 2 hours. It was all black and gradually came back. It was so so scary! I think that depression could very well be ‘just’ mental, I don’t see the ‘need’ to struggle with my body too. But yes …. ugh! Thank you for commenting ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Ah but depression might also be a disease of the brain! It’s common among stroke survivors too. It’s not surprising – you look at what you were, and what you’ve become, and you’re on that slope. I find the only way is to be a horse – to wear blinkers – to have longer-term goals but mainly just to have immediate, short-term goals.
    Incidentally, I am no clinician but do meet a lot of senior people through my charity work. I tend to associate depression with a kind of lethargy. Isolated (often widowed), in a vacuum, in need of something to do, plenty of time to get involved in whatever they choose, but can’t find the energy to do so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The brain infuences the body. People who are depressed and have a stroke, can heal slower. It can really trouble the process.
      The body also influences the mind, like you said, when you think about what you have lost or maybe are to lose ….
      The horse approach can work sometimes but it depends on so many factors, like you said, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, no energy.
      Like all in psychology we don’t know exactly how it works and every-body is different. But it is something worth knowing, just to know what is going on. Also clinicians and close friends, family can keep an eye out.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. As my experience of depression has been relatively mild, I can’t say I know how to reconnect with your body when depression has robbed you of that connection. My own strategy when I notice that my feelings are becoming blunted and my engagement faded is to force myself to cry. I will listen to sad songs, think about the saddest memories I have, anything to start the tears and release some of what’s pent up inside. By that point, I usually don’t know what’s pent up inside, but crying will sometimes bring it up to awareness.

    I’m not sure if this would work for other people, but it really helps me. I actually try to cry regularly to keep myself from becoming depressed. It may seem strange to treat crying as an exercise, but for me it is a kind of emotional cleaning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that. When I’m stressed I cry more, to ‘get it out’. It does have a cleansing effect on an emotional level.
      I believe that water is the source of life and everything and tears are water too. Sometimes a warm shower helps me to take care of the bodily me.
      Thank you for your input!

      Liked by 1 person

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