Depression is a mental illness, but it can affect your body as well as your mind. Sleep problems, for example, can be a symptom of depression. Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is common in people who are depressed. But some people with depression may find that they sleep too much.
Chest pains can be a sign of a heart or lung problem. If you experience chest pains, see your health care provider to rule out any serious cause. But sometimes chest pains can be a sign of depression. There's also a link between depression and heart disease. Depression can increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, people who've had heart attacks are more likely to be depressed.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
If you feel so exhausted that you don't have energy for everyday tasks -- even when you sleep or rest a lot -- it may be a sign that you're depressed. Depression and fatigue can feed off each other. According to one major study, people who are depressed are more than four times as likely to develop unexplained fatigue, and people who suffer from fatigue are nearly three times as likely to become depressed. Depression and fatigue together tend to make both conditions seem worse.
Muscle Aches and Joint Pain
Pain and depression are closely linked. Living with chronic pain can increase the risk of depression. And depression itself may lead to pain because the two conditions share chemical messengers in the brain. In fact, people who are depressed are three times as likely to develop chronic pain.
Our brains and digestive systems are strongly connected, which is why many of us get stomach aches or nausea when we're stressed or worried. Depression can get you in your gut too -- causing symptoms of nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
People with depression often complain of chronic headaches. One study showed that people with major depression are three times more likely to have migraines and people with migraines are five times more likely to become depressed.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Some people lose their appetite when they feel depressed. Others can't stop eating -- it soothes their frustration or misery. The result can be weight gain or loss and, with weight loss, lack of energy. Depression has been linked to eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. In women, the link between depression and anorexia or bulimia is especially strong.
Chronic back pain may contribute to depression. But depression may increase a person's risk of developing back pain, too. People who are depressed may be four times more likely to develop intense, disabling neck or back pain.
Agitation and Restlessness
Irritability and restlessness may be related to sleep problems or other symptoms of depression. Depression increases the risk of alcohol or other substance abuse, which also can contribute to irritability and restlessness. Men are more likely than women to be irritable when they're depressed.
If you're depressed, you might lose your interest in sex. Severe depression, especially, can have an impact on sex. People who are depressed are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, both of which can reduce your sex drive. Some prescription drugs -- including ones that treat depression -- can also take away your sex drive and affect performance. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
Research suggests that a regular exercise program not only keeps you fit, but also releases chemicals in your brain that may make you feel good, improve your mood, and reduce your sensitivity to pain. Although exercise alone won't cure depression, it can help reduce depression over the long term. Keep in mind that if you're depressed, it can be hard to get the energy to keep exercising. But know that exercise can improve energy, ease fatigue, and help you sleep better.