In the United States alone, 26% of adults suffer from a form of depression. That translates to 17 million Americans living with depression on a day to day basis. Though most know that depression weighs heavily on the mind, few know how heavily it can affect your physical health.
In this article, we’re going to teach you a few of the common ways depressions affects your physical health.
Depression affects your digestive system
Depression can destroy a person’s appetite and their ability to follow proper nutrition. Some who suffer will overeat, where others will completely lose their appetite. Either way, this can lead to digestive strife such as:
- Stomach aches
As hard as it may be (especially as a parent) you need to strive towards keeping a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean trying to lose weight or gain muscle- but simply giving your body the nutrition it needs to combat the digestive effects of depression.
Try to cook meals at home. You can even use cooking meals at home as a way to spend time with your family and surround yourself with people that love you.
When you’re busy running the kids to soccer practice, opt for whole foods that will fuel your brain function. Snacks high in protein will help your body continue the fight against depression by supplying your body with the nutrients your brain needs to function.
Most people are deficient in the following:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Amino Acids
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Lucky for you, you can find all of these vitamins and minerals at the pharmacy. Though they won’t replace a lack of eating (or eating too much), they can help you get the nutrients you need to maintain your physical health.
Depression affects your sleep schedule
Depression can make maintaining a healthy sleep schedule nearly impossible. For many, this begins with brain fog depression. Brain fog depression isn’t a true medical illness, but a term that has come to encompass:
- Difficulty staying focused
- Irritability and inability to concentrate in day to day life
- Lack of motivation
Many sufferers describe brain fog as the feeling that the world is moving too fast for them to keep up, that they can’t focus or live in the moment. It’s often coupled with fatigue. The effect of it is extreme fatigue.
To combat the fatigue of depression try to keep a regular sleep schedule. If your kids go to bed at 9, it may not be a bad idea to follow suit. On the other end of fatigue, talk to your doctor if you’re suffering from insomnia about safe ways to get to sleep better.
Depression affects your nervous system
Much like your sleep patterns, depression affects your nervous system. This can appear in ways that typically seem easy to dismiss such as:
- Chronic body pain
- Headaches that seem unexplainable
- Ticks and twitches that weren’t there before
Given that most of these nervous system issues won’t respond to pain medication, it’s easy to ignore or dismiss as ‘getting older’. If you’re unsure of whether or not your nervous system is experiencing the effects of depression, talk to your friends and family members. Ask them if they’ve noticed changes in your cognitive behavior or overall health. Often times, they’ll be the first to notice.
Depression affects your cardiovascular system
Stress and depression go hand in hand. More importantly, stress puts a great deal of weight on your cardiovascular system. Untreated depression can even lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Worse yet, untreated depression and stress will weaken your immune system. Which means you’ll be getting sick more.
A person living with an excessive amount of stress may experience:
- An increased heart rate
- Tightened blood vessels
- High blood pressure
If you’re experiencing any of the above, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment and commit to minimizing your stress. Though there will always be factors you can’t control, you need to take control of what you can.
Conclusion: Take depression seriously
Despite depression being a mental illness, there is a very real effect on your physical health. Do not deny the connection between mental health and physical health. Each needs equal care in your life. If one is suffering, the other will follow. To add to that, taking care of your physical health will help you combat the symptoms of depression and may even make you feel better.
Instead of dismissing depression symptoms as a rough week with the kids, keep an eye on your symptoms. If you find yourself suffering mentally and physically for two weeks or longer, it’s worth seeing a mental health professional. You don’t have to live with your symptoms and more importantly, you can find a way to minimize them.
Are you suffering from anxiety or depression? How do you manage your symptoms and overcome the physical effects of depression? Share your story in the comments.