How Untreated Depression Can Harm Your Physical Health

While depression is among the most common mental disorders, the effects this condition can have on your physical health are also well-documented. In fact, depression is closely tied to chronic pain, with one often begetting the other, sending people into a vicious cycle of mental and physical health issues.

Here at Flux Psychology, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Liner understands the widespread impact that depression can have on our patients. The longer a person goes without treating their depression, the more likely it is that physical symptoms may develop.

Here’s a look at some of the more common physical complaints that accompany untreated depression.

Pain

As we mentioned above, the relationship between depression and pain is an intricate one. Pain can accompany depression and dealing with chronic pain can sometimes lead to depression.

Here we want to discuss the first scenario — how depression leads to pain. Many people with depression complain of unexplained headaches and body aches, and there are several theories as to why this occurs.

First, some researchers believe that the dysregulation of serotonin in your brain may influence how you feel pain. Other researchers suggest that people with depression may feel pain differently — they’re more sensitive to it.

While the jury is still out as to the exact mechanism behind the relationship between depression and pain, there’s little dispute as to its existence.

Weakened immune system

Stress, anxiety, and depression can also have a significant impact on your body’s immune system. The theory behind this development is that depression may cause an inflammatory response in your body, which weakens your immune system.

Sleep and fatigue

People with depression often report sleep problems and daytime fatigue. While the fatigue may be more of a mental problem, depression’s effect on the way you sleep — either too much or too little — are causes for concern.

For example, if your body isn’t getting the restorative sleep it needs, it can’t function optimally. Conversely, if you find that you’re sleeping too much, it likely means that you’re not getting enough exercise, which is paramount for good physical health.

Weight changes

Dramatic weight changes are another common physical effect of depression — either losing or gaining weight. Just like the sleep issue, both sides of the weight equation can be problematic, as carrying excess weight and being underweight can both wreak havoc on your physical health.

High blood pressure

Your cardiovascular health isn’t immune to the effects of depression and may lead to higher blood pressure numbers because of stress and anxiety. Then the high blood pressure puts you at risk for other serious health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.

The bottom line is that depression can be an all-encompassing disorder, which makes seeking our help a great idea for both your physical and mental health. Simply contact our office in Denver, Colorado, to get started.

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