Pain isn’t just something we can feel in our minds; it’s also a physical sensation, which can be caused by illness, injury, or something as simple as stubbing your toe. But it can also be caused by depression, according to experts at the University of Michigan Depression Center in Ann Arbor and Harvard Medical School in Boston who recently published their findings in the Journal of Health Psychology.
The Link Between Emotions and Bodily Sensations
The connection between physical pain and emotions, like depression, is complex. It can't be explained simply by saying that one causes the other. Scientists don't know if people with depression are more sensitive to physical pain or if people who experience chronic pain are more likely to develop depression. What they do know is that there is a significant link between chronic pain and emotional distress in general.
In fact, researchers believe that many of the same brain circuits may underlie both types of pain. If this theory holds true, then it's possible that antidepressants could relieve not only depression but also bodily aches and pains too.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that people who have major depressive disorder suffer from increased risk for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease. In fact, chronic depression may result in a 50% chance of developing coronary artery disease. This is because people with depression are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or drinking excessively which leads to these health issues.
Studies show that individuals suffering from depression also report an increased rate of physical pain due to their higher levels of stress and anxiety. Chronic pain has been linked to lower levels of serotonin and this chemical can be naturally released when we exercise or spend time outdoors. These findings suggest that both physical and mental health should be considered simultaneously when treating a person suffering from depression.
The Link Between Brain Chemistry and Depression
Studies have shown that depression may cause changes in brain chemistry, which result in actual physical pain. It's a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break out of. Studies have shown that depression may cause changes in brain chemistry, which result in actual physical pain. It's a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break out of.
The Link Between Neurotransmitters and Depression
Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that send messages to different parts of the body. When you're depressed, your body may not produce enough neurotransmitters, which can cause feelings of pain or fatigue.
Diarrhea, Upset stomach, and Ulcers
Your brain and your gastrointestinal system are intimately connected. Stress, anxiety, and depression are proven to effect the motility and muscle contractions of the GI tract which in turn can cause any combination of diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.
There is evidence that your emotions impact the production of stomach acid, which can increase the risk of ulcers. Stress can exacerbate or cause acid reflux. Furthermore, there appears to be a link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and anxiety. Studies have also found a link between depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Weight Loss or Weight gain
For some people, being depressed can have adverse affects on their eating habits and cause them to lose weight unnecessarily.
To other people with depression, feelings of hopelessness may lead to poor eating choices and the lack of exercise. Feeling this way can result in a high-sugar, fat-filled, high-starch-food diet. Higher appetite and weight gain can also be effects of some antidepressants.
A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source found that obese people were two and a half times as likely to also be depressed, according to an older survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
Treatment for Depression
Physical symptoms of depression may require more than one type of treatment. Some antidepressants may also relieve some physical symptoms, such as pain, but other symptoms may require separate treatment such as psychotherapy, stress management, lifestyle change, other type of medication (e.g., anti-anxiety, etc), or natural remedies/supplements.
There are real physical symptoms of depression and they can negatively impact your recovery and daily life. Depression affects everyone differently, and while no one-size-fits-all treatment is available, combining treatments can be effective.
If you have depression, it's important to talk to a mental health professionals or medical doctors about treatments that is right for you. With proper treatment, you may be able to decrease these physical symptoms as well as the emotional symptoms of depression.