- Is It Possible to Become Physically Sick from Depression?
- The Surprising Psychology of the Common Cold
- Why Can Bipolar Depression Feel a Lot like the Flu?
- Bipolar depression can feel a lot like a physical illness, such as the flu, because it is a lot like a physical illness. Here is a physiological explanation.
- I Felt Sick All the Time and Then Realized It Was Actually Anxiety
- How does depression affect the body?
- Ink Sans
Is It Possible to Become Physically Sick from Depression?
There are a number of ways that depression can make you physically sick. Here are some of the different physical symptoms and why they happen.
Diarrhea, upset stomach, and ulcers
Your brain and gastrointestinal (GI) system are directly linked. Depression, anxiety, and stress have been shown to affect the movement and contractions of the GI tract, which can cause diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
Your emotions also appear to impact stomach acid production, which can increase the risk of ulcers. There’s some evidence that stress may cause or worsen acid reflux.
There also appears to be a link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and anxiety. Depression has also been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Disruption of sleep
Sleep issues are common symptoms of depression. This can include trouble falling or staying asleep, and getting sleep that isn’t productive or restful.
There’s substantial evidence linking depression and sleep issues. Depression can cause or worsen insomnia, and insomnia may increase the risk of depression.
The effects of sleep deprivation also worsen other symptoms of depression, such as stress and anxiety, headaches, and a weakened immune system.
Depression impacts your immune system in several ways.
When you sleep, your immune system produces cytokines and other substances that help your body fight infection. Sleep deprivation, which is a common symptom of depression, interferes with this process, increasing your risk of infection and illness.
There’s also evidence that depression and stress are linked to inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of a number of diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Depression and stress are closely linked and both have been shown to impact the heart and blood pressure. Unmanaged stress and depression can cause:
- irregular heart rhythms
- high blood pressure
- damage to the arteries
A 2013 study found depression to be common in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It also mentioned that depression may interfere with blood pressure management.
Weight loss or weight gain
Your mood may impact your diet. For some, depression causes a loss of appetite that could lead to unnecessary weight loss.
For others with depression, feelings of hopelessness may result in poor eating choices and a loss of interest in exercise. Reaching for foods high in sugars, fats, and starchy carbohydrates is also common. Increased appetite and weight gain are also side effects of some medications for depression.
Obesity also seems to be common in people with depression, according to an older survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey, conducted between 2005 and 2010, found that approximately 43 percent of adults with depression are obese.
According to the National Headache Foundation, 30 to 60 percent of people with depression experience headaches.
Depression and related symptoms like stress and anxiety have been shown to cause tension headaches. Depression also appears to increase the risk of recurrent headaches of stronger intensity and longer duration. Poor sleep may also contribute to more frequent or stronger headaches.
Muscle and joint pain
There’s a confirmed link that depression can cause pain and pain can cause depression. Back pain and other joint and muscle pain are common physical symptoms of depression.
Depression and other mood disorders have been shown to alter pain perception, which can trigger or worsen pain. Fatigue and loss of interest common in depression can lead to being less active. This inactivity can cause muscle and joint pain and stiffness.
The Surprising Psychology of the Common Cold
Catching the winter flu or common cold is difficult to avoid in the city—pathogens live every place you turn, from subway poles, to bus seats, to doorknobs at the office. If you have already gotten sick this season, you can attest to the fact that it is stressful, exhausting, and a downer. But it’s no coincidence that when you are physically ill, you feel more depressed than usual.
Illnesses like the flu or the common cold can closely mimic and cause depressive symptoms by activating your immune response and inflammation in your body (Hall 1996, Smith 1999, Capuron 1999).
Our immune, neurologic, and psychological systems are closely intertwined. When there is a foreign invader in your body, like the influenza virus, your cells produce proinflammatory cytokines, non-antibody proteins that activate and organize your body’s immune response (Raison 2006).
These chemical proteins circulate throughout your body and communicate with your brain, which in turn produces its own cytokines. These brain cytokines lead to fever, fatigue, depressed mood, lack of appetite, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, poor concentration, and altered sleeping patterns. In other words, the physical sickness caused by the inflammatory response significantly overlaps with depressive symptoms.
A recently published study in JAMA Psychiatry adds important evidence on the link between depression and inflammation (Setiawan, et al. 2015). Researchers compared the positron emission tomography (PET) scans of 20 people diagnosed with a current major depressive episode with 20 healthy control participants. They measured a protein density known to be associated with neuroinflammation (“translocator protein density measured by distribution volume”).
Levels of protein density measuring neuroinflammation were significantly elevated in all three brain regions that they examined: 26 percent higher in the prefrontal cortex, 32 percent higher in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and 33 percent higher in the insula. Further, higher levels of this protein density—and, presumably, neuroinflammation—in the ACC were associated with increased severity of the depression.
This finding is consistent with the existing literature on the neuroinflammatory hypothesis of depression. In a 2001 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 40 patients who not depressed were given a pro-inflammatory cytokine named interferon alpha (i.e., these patients were being treated with big-dose interferon alfa therapy for their malignant melanoma) (Musselman 2001).
Nearly half of the patients developed major depression within 3 months of interferon alfa therapy. Patients who had been given the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) two weeks before the cytokine responded to the medication, and 95 percent did not become depressed. Only 1 of the 20 patients who had been pretreated with paroxetine had to stop interferon alfa due to severe depression.
Similar studies have shown that other types of cytokines, when given as for treatment of cancer or hepatitis C, are also associated with significant levels of depression (Meyers 1999). Antidepressants have been found to successfully treat depression associated with both the cytokine-induced depression as well as medical illness-associated depression.
These studies help to shed light on neuroinflammation as a potential pathway for depression. It also helps explain why, when you come down with the flu, you might also feel like you caught the blues, too.
Copyright Marlynn H. Wei, MD, PLLC © 2015
Why Can Bipolar Depression Feel a Lot like the Flu?
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Bipolar depression can feel a lot like a physical illness, such as the flu, because it is a lot like a physical illness. Here is a physiological explanation.
You’re pretty much laid up in bed, or at least significantly limited in your capacity to perform daily duties. Your concentration is off, and you’re not expected—nor welcome—at work. It feels like the flu. But is it?
My body aches all over. Why does a mental illness feel so much like a physical one?
Depression can feel a lot like the flu because it is a lot like the flu. It feels a lot like a physical illness because it is a lot like a physical illness.
The way we feel when we are physically sick is caused by the products of inflammation that result from the interaction between the flu virus and the body’s defense mechanisms. Markers of inflammation, called cytokines, are elevated in times of stress, such as when the body is fighting an infection. The result is a feeling of malaise, poor energy, lack of appetite, and general all-over body aches. The decreased energy and accompanying psychological features are driven to a significant degree by the cytokines and related products of the inflammatory process.
“Sickness behavior” is the term used to describe the emotional feelings of the flu. From an evolutionary perspective, sickness behavior is important, as it is nature’s way of pulling an ill person out of action and giving him or her time to get well. In the days of early humankind, developing an infection affected the capacity to participate in the daily activities necessary for survival, and the pattern of sickness behaviors provided the basis for the individual to rest and (hopefully) recover. Sickness behaviors are very much like depression.
Not a lot has been written or discussed on the topic of sickness behavior, as it is a term that emerged from veterinary medicine. Sick animals are assessed based on observations of behavior: when ill, they become lethargic and socially withdrawn, and their appetite is decreased. Sounds a lot like depression, doesn’t it?
Although cytokines and other markers of inflammation are related to infection, there are numerous factors that can cause the inflammatory markers to increase, such as tissue injury; increased inflammatory markers are also associated with various chronic disorders. There are many different types of cytokines that associate with different types of viral disorders, and they appear (and can be measured) in the blood over the course of illness. Cytokines are broad markers of distress and indicate that the body is trying to accommodate disruption. Simply put, increased cytokines are the result of stress—whether from a physical or an emotional cause.
Theories abound on what causes the elevated cytokines found in individuals with depression. Diet (excess processed sugars cause increased cytokines), and sleep and physical activity (low levels of either can result in increased cytokines) are common culprits; even the stressors of everyday life can boost these inflammatory markers.
What should I do to feel better?
Even if one has been vaccinated, one can still get influenza; the vaccine confers approximately effective protection approximately 60 percent of the time. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to decrease the incidence or severity of depression. But just as “rest and plenty of fluids” is good advice for people with the flu, individuals with depression would do well to follow a healthy diet low in processed sugars, and maintain a consistent routine of good sleep and regular exercise.
Taking care of your health—both physical and psychological—involves collaboration with your health-care provider. If you feel flu-like symptoms that interfere with your daily routine, talk with your doctor. Malaise, lethargy, social withdrawal, decreased appetite, and body aches could be signs of the flu—or it could be a depression that’s dragging you down. Both are treatable.
Printed as “Ask the doctor: I’m sick, I ache all over”, Spring 2016
I Felt Sick All the Time and Then Realized It Was Actually Anxiety
During my senior year of college, my social life looked like this: I’d get a text from someone inviting me out for the night—it didn’t matter where: a party, a movie, a drink at a local bar—and I’d accept eagerly, being an obnoxious extrovert who welcomed any excuse not to study. But every time, an hour or two before we’d meet up, I’d suddenly start to feel sick. My skin would get clammy. I’d get the chills. I’d get nauseous and need to rush to the bathroom every ten minutes. Ultimately, I’d have to call and cancel. And within minutes of cancelling, I’d start to feel better again, every single time.
In hindsight, it’s obvious that I had some underlying issue—I wasn’t just coincidentally getting a stomach bug every time I had to leave my apartment and then miraculously recovering. But at the time it took me nearly a year to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t until I was in a therapist’s office to seek treatment for my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that I realized these bouts of illness were actually just different facets of the same problem—severe anxiety.
On television and in movies, panic attacks look like one thing only: The character who’s having a panic attack clutches at his chest, gasps for air, and then breathes into a paper bag to calm himself. But that’s never been my experience, and it’s probably why I spent the better part of a year thinking something was seriously wrong with me. Anxiety—I thought—wasn’t a physical experience, apart from looking sort of like an asthma attack. It didn’t look like chills and aches and nausea. It didn’t look like immediately shitting your pants during a date because a car honked too loudly outside the restaurant window (true story).
But for myself and the 40 million adults who live with anxiety, it absolutely is a physical experience. When our brain senses danger (real or perceived, incoming attacker or loudly honking car), the amygdala sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which then releases a cascade of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare the rest of our body for action. Physiologists have termed this the “fight or flight response,” since it primed our earliest ancestors to either fight against the incoming danger, or run the hell away from it.
The rush of hormones causes our heart to beat wildly, our blood pressure to rise, and our senses to sharpen, along with a host of other physical symptoms, all so we can respond to danger. What’s more, the book Mindfulness and Psychotherapy explains that the hippocampus, which is close to the amygdala, is responsible for storing our emotional memory—which means that even a traumatic memory or something that reminds us of danger can trigger that same panic response.
When we look at anxiety from an evolutionary perspective, the physical symptoms start to make more sense. But why, then, might someone crap her pants during a date because a car honked too loud and then have to end the date early and waddle ten blocks back to her apartment to change her pants? This is due to the body’s gut-brain connection, which explains the nausea, vomiting, and pants-crapping we might experience in a state of extreme hyper-arousal, says New York-based psychotherapist Laura Federico.
“Any time someone is experiencing an emotional distress, it’s expressed somehow,” Federico explains. “And when things are happening emotionally, it changes what happens in our gut.” Stress, depression, or anxiety can actually change the physiology of our gut, or cause our GI tract to contract or move. Anxiety can even make inflammation worse in the gut or make us more susceptible to infection. It’s why we develop loose stools, stomach pain, nausea, or vomit under crisis, she tells me.
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In addition to bubble gut, anxiety can manifest as pain elsewhere too. “Some of my clients have pain in a specific area of their body that they thought was another really scary medical thing, and they’ve come to understand it’s a sign they’re stressed out,” Federico says. “It could be pain in their throat, pain in their armpit, pain in their back—but these seemingly random physical experiences can be directly linked to anxiety.”
For some patients, localized pain could be due to how they were raised to understand anxiety and expressing emotion, Federico says. “For someone who was brought up to understand emotions as a weakness, it might not be okay for that person to say ‘I’m feeling stressed out.’ They may have been raised in an environment where they saw someone experience a heart attack and witnessed the medical intervention that followed, and they learned that experiencing physical pain was more socially acceptable,” she says. It could be that our mind is so powerful that it’s trying to express some psychic pain in whatever way seems socially appropriate.
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There are, it seems, as many different physical symptoms of anxiety as there are people who suffer from it—whether it’s pain, numbness, hot flashes, or uncontrollable diarrhea. But one thing that I learned—and what Federico wants her clients to understand—is that physical symptoms of anxiety are natural and normal to experience, no matter how weird they may seem. And what’s more, recognizing your symptoms and knowing that they’re part of your anxiety experience can actually make the whole experience a lot less scary.
In college, plagued with diarrhea and chills and hot flashes, I trekked over to the on-campus health clinic after a week of missing class and told the nurses, sobbing, that I was definitely dying of Swine Flu. When I found out I was actually most likely having a prolonged panic attack, I felt humiliated at first, then ashamed—then, slowly, relieved. Federico is right: Knowing how anxiety feels physically, for your own body, can take away a lot of fear that keeps you in that heightened state. I still experience those symptoms when I have a panic attack, unfortunately—but knowing it’s a standard part of my own anxiety experience helps me come down from that panic. Within minutes, without canceling my plans, I start to feel better again, every single time.
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How does depression affect the body?
Research has documented many ways that depression can affect physical health, including the following:
Weight gain or loss
People with depression may experience appetite changes, which can cause unintended weight loss or gain.
Medical experts have associated excessive weight gain with many health issues, including diabetes and heart disease. Being underweight can harm the heart, affect fertility, and cause fatigue.
People with depression may experience unexplained aches or pains, including joint or muscle pain, breast tenderness, and headaches.
A person’s depression symptoms can worsen because of chronic pain.
Depression can reduce a person’s motivation to make positive lifestyle choices. Their risk of heart disease increases when they eat a poor diet and have a sedentary lifestyle.
Depression may also be an independent risk factor for heart health problems. According to research published in 2015, one in five people with heart failure or coronary artery disease has depression.
Research indicates that chronic stress and depression are linked to inflammation and may change the immune system. Other research suggests that depression could be due to chronic inflammation.
People with depression are more likely to have inflammatory conditions or autoimmune disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), type 2 diabetes, and arthritis.
However, it is unclear whether depression causes inflammation or chronic inflammation makes someone more vulnerable to depression. More research is necessary to understand the link between the two.
Sexual health problems
People with depression may have a decreased libido, have trouble becoming aroused, no longer have orgasms, or have less pleasurable orgasms.
Some people also experience relationship problems due to depression, which can have an impact on sexual activity.
Worsening chronic health conditions
People who already have a chronic health condition may find their symptoms are worse if they develop depression.
Chronic illnesses may already feel isolating or stressful, and depression may exacerbate these feelings.
A person with depression may also struggle to follow the treatment plan for a chronic illness, which can allow the symptoms to get worse.
People who experience depression and who have a chronic illness should talk to a doctor about strategies for addressing both conditions. Preserving mental health may improve physical health and make a chronic condition easier to manage.
Share on PinterestDepression may contribute to insomnia.
People with depression may experience insomnia or trouble sleeping.
This condition can leave them feeling exhausted, making it difficult to manage both physical and mental health.
Doctors link sleep deprivation to a host of health problems. Similarly, research has correlated long-term sleep deprivation with high blood pressure, diabetes, weight-related issues, and some types of cancer.
People with depression often report stomach or digestion problems, such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, or constipation. Some people with depression also have chronic conditions, including IBS.
According to research published in 2016, this may be because depression changes the brain’s response to stress by suppressing activity in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.
I’m Ink Sans and here is my Bio!
I started cutting myself because of depression…..
My amazing father
My amazing mother
don’t ask about my past…..please….
Is a gangster(if you want to join I’ll be sure to invite you)
can be evil don’t mess with me…….If you do mess with me your life will be ended
Super Depressed(can’t get out of depression now)
weapons: scythe,knifes, and a kantana
NickNames: Inky,Squid,Rainbow, Not Fucking shorty
Friends: Dream, Galaxia, Cross Chara(female)
Sisters: I don’t really know
Can turn into a human
Can turn into a human wolf
my human wolf form
Black and white
All of my eye colors
weak spots: “ink would cover her face” you’ll never know!!!
Also if you hate me that’s fucking great I really don’t give a fuck
Please don’t threaten me…if you do I’ll create a scythe and slit your throat
Don’t even think about touching me