What is depression?

Depression is a complex mental condition that affects over 264 million people across all age groups worldwide. From having frequent mood fluctuations to experiencing persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, depression can manifest itself in various forms, degrees, and duration. In most severe cases, this may even lead to death by suicide. 

Causes and symptoms of depression

While depression results from chemical imbalances in brain, there are many other potential causes for this complex and little understood heath condition. Knowing the symptoms of depression are essential to understanding what is depression. These include genetic vulnerability, personal trauma, stressful life events, certain medications, and even social isolation. It is believed that certain ways of thinking and behaving can fasten the dive into depression, while others can prevent it. Two or several of these forces interact to cause depression in human beings.

If we talk about the symptoms of depression, they can manifest themselves both physically as well as emotionally. The emotional symptoms of depression include persistent feeling of sadness, irritability, and hopelessness. Lack of focus and concentration are also related to one’s mental state. 

Physical Symptoms

Depression can have debilitating effects on body just as it affects the mind. Physical effects of this debilitating problem include constant feeling of fatigue, erratic sleep habits, loss of appetite, muscle pain, frequent headaches etc. 

Depression can have both short-term and long-term effects. While appetite loss, weight issues, and other physical symptoms are short term effects of depression, one can suffer malnutrition from not eating enough or obesity from eating too much. Changes in food habits and accompanying weight loss or gain can also be a side effect of antidepressant medications. Long-term depression can also cause death by suicide. 

Pain

From sore muscles to frequent head aches, people with depression often complain of chronic body pain which can be debilitating and also contribute to other physical effects of depression.

 

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Depression is also said to cause stomach related problems, such as nausea, bloating, diarrhoea, or constipation. This could be because of a neurotransmitter called serotonin that is present in the brain and gut. Serotonin is linked to depression because it is said to help regulate mood, but researchers also know that it also plays a role in maintaining digestive function. 

 

Can depression affect your immune system?

Yes, it does. Depression can cause your immune system work less optimally, making one more prone to seasonal sicknesses like flu and cold. A weakened immune system takes longer for patient to get better.

 

Sleep Problems/Fatigue

Sleep disorders are one of the most important and visible symptoms of depression. People who are depressed either struggle to fall sleep, or sleep too much. Then comes the problem of perpetual fatigue i.e no matter how much they sleep, they never feel rested. They also struggle to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing or doing household chores. 

 

High Blood Pressure

Depressed people are often under stress for a long period of time. While it’s surely not the only cause, stress is one of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure

Chronic stress, primarily has been linked to high blood pressure. This in turn, increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease like heart attack.

 

Social effects of Depression

In addition to the body health effects of depression, patients also experience social effects of depressive mental state. The social effects of depression change how a person functions in the world and their relationship with others. Avoiding social contact and interaction is a common pattern in people falling into depression. Some people begin skipping activities they normally love to do and start isolating themselves from the world outside. Others turn to liquor or junk food to hide their pain and sadness. Some social effects of depression include:

  • Substance use and abuse
  • Social and family withdrawal
  • Decreased performance at work or school

 

Depressive state vary from person to person, but what they have in common is that they can serve to worsen patient’s mood, unleashing a vicious cycle.