Depression is the most common mental disorder in the United States. While this is a mental condition, it also affects one’s physical health.
Every aspect of one’s health depends on how their brain is working. If your mental health is challenged, you become vulnerable to different diseases.
Read to the end to understand more about the effects depression has on your general health.
According to health practitioners, most individuals with depression or other mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. The link between depression and addiction lies in the coping mechanism of an individual. Most of them resort to substance misuse to either self-medicate or cope with their condition.
Substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition that affects one’s brain and behavior. This condition can lead to misusing drugs and alcohol. About half of individuals with SUD have mental disorders such as depression. SUD can affect the brain, increasing one’s chances of developing a mental condition.
- Problems With Digestive System
While depression is conceived as a mental illness, it plays a huge role in nutrition and appetite. Some depressed people turn to binge-eating or fasting to cope with the condition. This leads to such people gaining or losing a lot of weight.
When deep in depression, an individual can lose their appetite entirely or fail to eat the required amount of nutrition. Sudden loss of appetite can lead to a condition known as geriatric anorexia in older adults.
On the other hand, overeating individuals find themselves struggling with obesity-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes. Moreover, eating challenges can also cause constipation, stomachaches, malnutrition, and cramps.
Unfortunately, such conditions might not improve with medication if an individual fails to consume the correct diet. While sweets and carbohydrates might offer immediate relief, the solution is only temporary.
In general, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet when depressed. Nutrients are essential to ensure the body’s neurotransmitters work at their best.
- Trouble Sleeping
A person diagnosed with depression might find it difficult to sleep or stay asleep. This is because there’s a link between sleeping problems and depression. As a matter of fact, insomnia is a common sign of depression.
However, it doesn’t mean that insomnia or sleeping challenges are only caused by depression. In the United States, one in three adults experience insomnia at some time. More women experience this condition compared to men. And as they get older, their insomnia gets worse.
On the other hand, every adult should have at least nine hours of sleep each night. However, even without depression, most people sleep fewer hours than the required time. Nonetheless, sleep problems can worsen when depression is added to the picture.
The inability to have a good sleep is a sign of clinical depression. Also, sleeping too much can indicate that you have depression. Though sleeping problems don’t cause depression, they might play a role.
It’s important to understand that sleeping disorders caused by other medical conditions can worsen depression. Additionally, a prolonged inability to sleep might indicate that someone is depressed.
- Cardiovascular And Immune System Problems
Stress and depression are siblings. Stress hormones cause a faster heart rate and tightening of blood vessels, thereby putting the body in a prolonged state of emergency. As time goes by, one develops heart disease.
Regular cardiovascular issues are mostly linked to depression rather than conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, or high blood pressure. Most people with untreated depression are at high risk of dying after experiencing a heart attack.
Furthermore, heart conditions can also cause depression. It’s believed that 15% of individuals with heart conditions will likely develop this mental illness.
On the other hand, stress and depression can affect one’s immune system, increasing one’s chances of developing diseases and infections. Some research shows that depression and chronic stress may cause inflammation and affect the immune system.
Likewise, individuals with depression are likely to have inflammatory diseases or autoimmune problems like type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and arthritis. However, further research is required to prove that depression causes chronic pain and inflammation or that inflammation can cause depression.
- Worsening Chronic Health Conditions
Individuals with chronic health conditions may experience severe symptoms if they develop depression. While chronic pain might feel stressful and isolating, depression can only worsen the feelings.
If you have a chronic condition or depression, consult your doctor about measures to improve both conditions. Treating mental health might improve physical health and make it easier to manage chronic conditions.
- Low Libido
While it’s common for one to feel low and experience low libido, most depressed women experience a decreased sex drive that might be abnormal. This noticeably low libido indicates that an individual has a severe mental condition such as major depressive disorder.
According to doctors, females are about twice as likely as males to suffer from depression. Given that 21% of women will experience this mental illness at some point in their lives, it’s likely that most women will experience low libido in their lifetime.
Furthermore, low libido is among the symptoms that most doctors look for when diagnosing someone with major depressive disorder. A main symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy activities you once enjoyed, such as sex.
In addition, individuals with depression also experience low energy and resentment towards themselves and their partners, which might affect their sex drive.
- Suicidal Thoughts
Once depression hits you hard, you’re likely to develop suicidal thoughts. Since depression might make one experience low self-esteem and feel worthless, they tend to think dying is the easiest way out.
If you think you or your loved one is suicidal, seek medical intervention as soon as possible. Also, avoid isolating yourself since these thoughts mainly occur when you’re alone.
Every individual is likely to experience depression at some point in their life. Given that depression is a mental condition, it’s more likely that people with this condition will experience physical health problems linked to it.
Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your mental health is in check by eating a balanced diet, exercising, doing what makes you happy, and consulting your doctor whenever you feel something is off. If you fail to act, you could become a victim of the above-named depression complications.