Depression’s Physical Symptoms

Hi beautiful people! Another Friday post for the win!

Today is a holiday at my job, so I’m staying home and trying to clean my house. It’s obviously working super well since I’m sitting here typing to you all. Obviously. Anyways…

I write a lot about mental illness in this space. Sometimes it causes the people in my life to worry about me, maybe because I’m better at just jetting my thoughts and feelings out into the “empty space” of the internet than I am at actually communicating them directly to people. But I can reassure everyone that I’m definitely okay. I have my rough patches, of course, but I’m not on any kind of edge. And I’m definitely not drowning.

But even though I’m personally doing alright, I still felt the need today to talk about some of the effects that depression can have on a person. Everyone knows that we can feel like we don’t care about anything, that things are pointless, etc. You know, all the normal basic things. But what a lot of people sometimes forget are the physical symptoms that can come along with depression (and anxiety too, but I could write a different post on that subject alone) and how debilitating those can be.

Disclaimer… depression has many physical symptoms that can also be connected to other medical conditions. Don’t simply allow these symptoms to go untreated just because they are connected to a mental illness. People with depression who have multiple physical symptoms can be more at risk for other illnesses as well and talking to your doctor is always the best idea when figuring out how to proceed.


This is probably the most common complaint of people suffering from depression – the constant fatigue and exhaustion. For many, it also comes with a heavy brain fog that makes it difficult to concentrate on anything at all. (Note: I also deal with a ‘mental fog’ if my diet has not been all that great lately and my food sensitivities are acting up.)  Overall, you can just feel increasingly slow-moving and sluggish, regardless of what you do. Some research points to the fact that people with depression do not experience the same type of restorative sleep that people without depression are able to get, which could definitely contribute to this constant fatigue.

Aches and Pains

Hurting all over is, for me, a sure sign that my depression is trying to rise up again. Everyone I’ve ever talked to can attest to the constant aches, pains, cramps, and headaches that come with depression, but it does tend to manifest differently in each person. Back to the research, there are definitely results that show that people with depression have increased inflammation levels, and some have also hypothesized that with the way the brain works, depression can also lead to decreased pain tolerance.

Sometimes I do notice that when I’m trying to ward depression off, I hold a lot of tension in my body, which can definitely contribute to the headaches and random abdominal pains. Making an attempt to relax can help with that.

Appetite and Digestion

Some people report digestive distress alongside their depression. This is due to the cortisol hormone, which increases when the body is not well and ends up directing blood away from digestive organs. This is a great response from our bodies when we’re fighting off the flu or in emergency situations, but when we deal with prolonged depression, sometimes for weeks or months? It can easily cause problems.

Not everyone deals with actual digestive problems, but most people notice that their appetite changes. For me personally, I don’t get hungry and I lose all desire to eat. When I do eat something, I would rather snack on candy or just have a glass of juice. I lose all interest in food. Some people binge on their favorite foods or just can’t stop eating, and some people starve themselves. As usual, it manifests in different ways in every person.

Everything Else

While those are the major physical symptoms that people with depression report experiencing, and they are the ones that I have personally enjoyed, there are many others. Some people struggle with insomnia, some just can’t ever wake up at all. Often the immune system is weakened and it’s easier to pick up whatever bug happens to be going around. Blood sugar can drop, vision can change, heart palpitations, even nausea? All possibly symptoms of depression.

Even though a lot of symptoms can be connected to other health problems as well, my experience after having dealt with depression for several years is that some physical symptoms only show up when I’m about to have a rough few days. Obviously nobody should ignore physical symptoms, even when depression seems to be a likely cause, but many people are not even aware of the fact that mental illness can have these types of symptoms.

I’m linking here to several of the websites that I referred to while writing this post.

It’s Not All In Your Head

HealthLine – 8 Physical Symptoms of Depression

Tonic – A Study on the Physical Pain of Depression

The Mighty – Depression and Anxiety Can Cause Physical Pain

Psycom – Chronic Pain and Depression

Bustle – Why Does Depression Hurt?

If you’re struggling with depression and feel like there is no way out, please know that there is. It may be a difficult and frustrating path at times, but there is a way out.

National Suicide Hotline   1-800-273-8255

Lifeline Web Chat

Crisis Text Line

I love each and every one of you and I truly sympathize with anyone who also goes through these same struggles. I’ve been there and I understand. Regardless of what you might think, you are worth it.

You’ve won the battle every single day up until now. Don’t let today be the end of your winning streak.

All the love and kindness in the world,

Katharine Marie

Posted by Katharine Espinosa

Katharine is a freelance writer, editor, and aspiring author. She loves coffee, chocolate, cats, and riding her horses on the weekends. She lives in rural Texas with her husband and daughter.

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