Depression can have various physical manifestations.
One may feel “sick” or weak and worry about ones health. Back pain, headaches and muscle aches are the most common complaints. Depression is one of the most common reasons for people visiting their doctor and for missing work.
“People with migraines are two to three times as likely to have depression as the general population,” says Richard B. Lipton, MD, Director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City. People who experience migraines 15 or more days of the month are about twice as likely to have depression as people with episodic migraine, meaning those who experience migraines less than 15 days a month.
The research on migraines and depression shows that the relationship goes both ways: People with depression are more likely to get migraines, and people with migraines are more likely to become depressed. In fact, 40 percent of people with migraines also have depression. “Migraines and depression have common underpinnings in the brain, which can develop due to environmental factors, genetic causes, or a combination of both,” Dr. Lipton says. “Migraine pain and depression are also linked because both conditions respond to some of the same medications.”
Chest pain, joint pains, sleep disturbances (too much or too little), fatigue, abnormal appetite (increased or decreased) causing a gain or loss of weight, dizziness, diarrhoea or chronic constipation are other physical symptoms. They are not “all in your head.” Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems.
Depression seems to be related to dysregulation of nerve cell networks or pathways that connect brain areas that process emotional information. Some of these networks also process information related to how the body senses physical pain. Many experts think that depression can make you feel pain differently than other people. Medicines that treat depression “tweak” the chemicals involved in how these nerve cell networks communicate, making them work more efficiently, hence reducing the pain.
As these symptoms occur with many different conditions, a lot of depressed people never get help because they don’t know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression.
Unfortunately a lot of doctors miss the symptoms too.