- It’s All in Your Gut: When Depression is a Symptom of Digestive Disease
- The Brain-Belly Connection
- When It’s More Than Depression
- IBD and Symptoms of Depression
- 7 Physical Symptoms That Prove Depression Is Not Just ‘In Your Head’
- 1. Fatigue or consistent lower energy levels
- 2. Decreased pain tolerance (aka everything hurts more)
- 3. Back pain or aching muscles all over
- 4. Headaches
- 5. Eye problems or decreasing vision
- 6. Stomach pain or uneasiness in the abdomen
- 7. Digestive problems or irregular bowel schedules
- Pain is another way your brain communicates
- Is Depression All in the Stomach?
- 5 Physical Signs You May Be Depressed
- 1. Migraines
- 2. Joint Pain
- 3. Digestive Problems
- 4. Chest Pain
- 5. Back Pain
It’s All in Your Gut: When Depression is a Symptom of Digestive Disease
Depression symptoms often include certain digestive problems — research has shown that the makeup of bacteria in your gut can influence your emotional health. However, not all tummy troubles are due to a mental health condition. Depending on your symptoms, you could have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), two types of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
However, knowing the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between symptoms of diseases like IBD and symptoms of depression can help you understand when it’s time to call your doctor.
The Brain-Belly Connection
You might not realize just how sensitive your GI tract is to your emotions. Think about it – when you’re upset, one of your first reactions might be to feel physically nauseated, lose your appetite, or run for a comfort food. The brain and the gastrointestinal system are so closely linked that tummy troubles can be the cause of, or the result of, anxiety, stress, or depression, according to Harvard Medical School experts.
When you’re going through depression, you may have digestive symptoms, such as:
- Gastric distress
- No appetite
When It’s More Than Depression
Many of the digestive symptoms experienced with depression are similar to what you might experience with IBS, which is considered a condition but not a disease, or with an IBD, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The clues are in the differences in severity of some symptoms and the presence of other ones.
With IBS, you’re likely to experience long-term abdominal pain and alternate between bouts of constipation and diarrhea, according to CCFA. These symptoms can be so severe that they take over your life. What causes IBS is still uncertain, but some people are helped by learning techniques like stress management and relaxation training from a mental health therapist. You might be able to gain this knowledge through the therapist helping you manage depression.
RELATED: What Your Gut May Be Telling You
With IBD, the more serious illness from an overall health standpoint, chronic diarrhea can be a hallmark. IBD involves inflammation at certain points along your digestive tract, which doesn’t occur with IBS or with tummy troubles from depression, CCFA explains. Other IBD symptoms include bloody stools, anemia (from loss of blood), and fever.
People with IBD may also have abdominal pain and even skin problems, says psychologist Frank J. Sileo, PhD, founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
If your digestive symptoms go beyond what’s expected from depression, it’s time to check in with your doctor. Make a list of your symptoms, including when they started, how long they lasted, and, if you’ve had them in the past, how you treated them, suggests the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
During the appointment, your doctor will ask about your condition, do a physical exam, and possibly even run lab tests to figure out the cause of your symptoms.
IBD and Symptoms of Depression
Anyone who has IBD might find it beneficial to talk with a mental health professional, because the unpredictability and uncertainty associated with the disease can be overwhelming emotionally.
“When someone receives the diagnosis of IBD, they are typically flooded with emotions,” Sileo says. “One may be depression or just feelings of sadness.”
A therapist familiar with IBD can help you process those emotions and address them as needed. If you do have depression, it’s very important to start treatment as soon as possible. According to NIMH, a delay in treatment can lead to greater impairment in the future.
“Patients with depressive symptoms typically have reported a lower quality of life and may be at an increased risk for relapses of IBD symptoms,” Sileo says. Depression can directly impact the healing process for IBD because it affects the immune system, which can prompt an inflammatory response. “Studies have found that when patients received mental health care, they spent fewer days in the hospital and took fewer sick days off from work,” he explains.
“When diagnosed with a chronic illness such as IBD, people obviously focus on getting the best medical care,” Sileo says. “They often see depression as a byproduct of the diagnosis and ignore it. My recommendation is to seek mental health help early.”
There are many effective approaches to treating depression, including talk therapy, relaxation training, and mindfulness work like meditation and guided imagery, he adds. Many of these same approaches can help you manage either IBD or IBS and improve your emotional health as you get any needed treatments for your physical health.
7 Physical Symptoms That Prove Depression Is Not Just ‘In Your Head’
Depression hurts. And while we often pair this mental illness with emotional pain like sadness, crying, and feelings of hopelessness, research shows that depression can manifest as physical pain, too.
While we don’t often think of depression as physical pain, some cultures do — especially those where it’s “taboo” to openly talk about mental health.
For example, in Chinese and Korean cultures, depression is considered a myth. So patients, unaware that physical pain may be a sign of psychological distress, go to doctors to treat their physical symptoms instead of describing depression.
But keeping these physical symptoms top of mind is just as important as the emotional effects.
For one, it’s a great way to keep in check with your body and mind. Physical symptoms can signal when a depressive period is about to begin or clue you in to whether or not you may be experiencing depression.
On the other hand, physical symptoms demonstrate that depression is, in fact, very real and can be detrimental to our overall well-being.
Here are seven of the most common physical symptoms of depression:
1. Fatigue or consistent lower energy levels
Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Occasionally we all experience lower energy levels and can feel sluggish in the morning, hoping to stay in bed and watch TV instead of going to work.
While we often believe exhaustion stems from stress, depression can also cause fatigue. However, unlike everyday fatigue, depression-related fatigue can also cause concentration problems, feelings of irritability, and apathy.
Dr. Maurizio Fava, Director of the Clinical Research Program at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, points out that depressed individuals often experience nonrestorative sleep, meaning that they feel sluggish even after getting a full night of rest.
However, because many physical illnesses, like infections and viruses, can also cause fatigue, it can be challenging to discern whether or not the exhaustion is related to depression.
One way to tell: While everyday fatigue is a sign of this mental illness, other symptoms like sadness, feeling hopeless, and anhedonia (lack of pleasure in day-to-day activities) may also be present when you are depressed.
2. Decreased pain tolerance (aka everything hurts more)
Does it ever feel like your nerves are on fire and yet you can’t find any physical reason for your pain? As it turns out, depression and pain often co-exist.
One 2015 study showed a correlation between people who are depressed and decreased pain tolerance, while another study in 2010 showed that pain has a greater impact on people who are depressed.
These two symptoms don’t have clear cause-and-effect relationship, but it’s important to evaluate them together, especially if your doctor recommends medication.
Some research suggests that using anti-depressants may not only help relieve depression, but can also act as an analgesic, combatting pain.
3. Back pain or aching muscles all over
You might feel okay in the morning, but once you’re at work or sitting at a school desk, your back starts to hurt. It could be stress, or it could be depression. Although they’re often associated with bad posture or injuries, backaches can also be a symptom of psychological distress.
A 2017 research study of 1,013 Canadian university students found a direct association between depression and backaches.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have long believed emotional issues can cause chronic aches and pains, but the specifics are still being researched, such as the connection between depression and the body’s inflammatory response.
Newer studies suggest that inflammation in the body may have something to do with the neurocircuits in our brain. It’s thought that inflammation may interrupt brain signals, and therefore may have a role in depression and how we treat it.
Almost everyone experiences occasional headaches. They’re so common that we often write them off as nothing serious. Stressful work situations, like conflict with a co-worker, can even trigger these headaches.
However, your headache might not always be induced by stress, especially if you’ve tolerated your co-worker in the past. If you notice a switch to daily headaches, it could be a sign of depression.
Unlike excruciating migraine headaches, depression-related headaches don’t necessarily impair one’s functioning. Described by the National Headache Foundation as “tension headaches,” this type of head pain may feel like a mild throbbing sensation, especially around the eyebrows.
While these headaches are helped by over-the-counter pain medication, they typically re-occur regularly. Sometimes chronic tension headaches can be a symptom of major depressive disorder.
However, headaches aren’t the only indication that your pain may be psychological. People with depression often experience additional symptoms like sadness, feelings of irritability, and decreased energy.
5. Eye problems or decreasing vision
Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect one’s eyesight.
In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as “contrast perception,” this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.
6. Stomach pain or uneasiness in the abdomen
That sinking feeling in your stomach is one of the most recognizable signs of depression. However, when your abdomen starts to cramp, it’s easy to write it off as gas or menstrual pain.
Pain that worsens, especially when stress arises, may be a sign of depression. In fact, Harvard Medical School researchers suggest that stomach discomfort like cramps, bloating, and nausea may be a sign of poor mental health.
What’s the link? According to those Harvard researchers, depression can cause (or be a result of) an inflamed digestive system, with pain that’s easily mistaken for illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Doctors and scientists sometimes refer to the gut as the “second brain,” because they have found a connection between gut health and mental well-being. Our stomachs are full of good bacteria and if there’s an imbalance of good bacteria, symptoms of anxiety and depression may arise.
Eating a balanced diet and taking probiotics can improve one’s gut health, which may enhance mood, too, but further research is needed.
7. Digestive problems or irregular bowel schedules
Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Often caused by food poisoning or gastrointestinal viruses, it’s easy to assume that gut discomfort stems from a physical illness.
But emotions like sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm can disrupt our digestive tracks. One 2011 study suggests a link between anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal pain.
Pain is another way your brain communicates
If you feel discomfort identifying and talking about distressing emotions, like sadness, anger, and shame, this could cause feelings to manifest differently in the body.
If you’re experiencing any of these physical symptoms for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 14.8 million American adults each year.
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, exposure to childhood stress or trauma, and brain chemistry. People with depression often need professional help, like psychotherapy and medication, to fully recover.
So at your appointment, if you suspect these physical symptoms might be more than surface level, request to be screened for depression and anxiety. This way your healthcare provider can connect you with the help you need.
Juli Fraga is a licensed psychologist based in San Francisco, California. She graduated with a PsyD from University of Northern Colorado and attended a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley. Passionate about women’s health, she approaches all her sessions with warmth, honesty, and compassion. See what she’s up to on Twitter.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by varying degrees of recurring abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and gas. Even though IBS is frequently diagnosed—reportedly affecting up to 23% of people around the world, and more women than men (1, 2) — the exact cause remains unknown, and medical experts do not fully understand how the disease process works. Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory bowel diseases with similar symptoms, IBS is considered a functional disorder, which means symptoms are caused by a dysfunctional digestive system, rather than by chronic inflammation, growth, or permanent damage along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that can identified in a physical examination. This dysfunction interrupts the normal movement of food through the GI tract, causing the related symptoms. IBS can produce different symptoms in different people, and multiple factors—both physical and psychological—are thought to be involved in its development.
Although IBS is not fully understood, symptoms appear to result from a disturbance in the brain-gut axis—the line of communication that exists between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract—that may include disruptions in the microbiome and the immune system. (3) This, they believe, helps explain why approximately half of all IBS patients, particularly those who suffer from chronic abdominal pain, report mental symptoms and distress along with abnormal and inexplicable symptoms that were once considered to be “all in their heads” because doctors couldn’t find any physical abnormalities. (4)
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A large-scale Taiwanese population study used anonymous medical records to follow more than 4,500 IBS patients ranging in age from 34 to 59 for approximately 6 years from diagnosis. None of the study patients had previously been diagnosed with any type of psychiatric disorders. At follow-up, when the researchers compared the study population to patients in the general population who were never diagnosed with IBS, they found that the IBS patients were significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and sleep disorders. IBS patients were also found to be at higher than average risk of developing bipolar disorder, but not schizophrenia. Upon further investigation, the researchers found the highest risk of developing these mental health conditions occurred within a year of being diagnosed with IBS, and while the risk decreased over time, was still significant more than five years after diagnosis. (2)
The Link Between Stomach Issues and Suicide
While this research appears to confirm the findings of numerous other studies, researchers still have many question about the link between IBS and psychiatric disorders. There’s no doubt that IBS causes patients significant distress and is associated with higher levels of mood disorders, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions. A study of 100 IBS patients found that more than one-third had considered suicide as a result of their symptoms. (5) But just as several factors may play a role in the development of IBS, many different circumstances also play a role in the development of psychiatric disorders. This complicates the work of any researcher seeking to find a definitive link between IBS and mental health issues. Furthermore, it complicates the ability to determine the best treatment. (2, 6)
The Potential Benefits of Probiotics
One area of great interest to researchers looking at IBS, mental health disorders, and links between the two, is the human microbiome, or the diverse population of gut microbia (bacteria) that lives in our gastrointestinal tract, which appears to play an active role in many areas of health. Normally, a balanced population of “good” bacteria keeps our digestive system healthy but when that balance is disrupted, as it can be for a variety of biological, psychological, medical and environmental reasons, an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria can result. Studies are showing this imbalance can have profound negative effects on both physical and mental health. (7)
Ongoing studies are also looking at the benefits of treating both IBS and mental health issues with probiotics—helpful live bacteria—found in fermented foods, taken as supplements, and introduced via a technique known as fecal microbial transplantation that involves introducing bacteria from a healthy person into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient with physical or mental health problems, in a procedure similar to a colonoscopy. (7,8) Research on probiotic bacteria thought to be most beneficial to people with IBS centers on different strains of the species known as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, both considered key to replenishing the gut with good bacteria and restoring a healthy balance to the microbiota. Yogurt, kefir and aged cheeses are probably the most common food sources of these bacterial species in the American diet. These strains also serve as the components of many different brands of probiotic supplements, alone and in combination with other beneficial bacteria. More and better controlled studies are necessary, however, before the effectiveness of different strains, combinations, and doses of probiotics can be confirmed and recommended by medical experts. (9)
Tips for Soothing Your Upset Stomach
While it is clear that more research needs to be done on IBS, mental health conditions, and how the two impact one another, it is important to keep in mind basic rules of healthy living when trying to improve both stomach issues and mental health woes. But don’t underplay any condition that is getting in the way of your life; make an appointment with your health practitioner to discuss the problem.
Here are tips to help you begin the journey to full bodily wellness.
- Incorporate foods rich in fermentable fibers, called inulin-type fructans, which, studies show, can help nurture beneficial gut bacteria. These are found in foods such as leek, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, artichoke, onion, wheat, bananas, oats and soybeans, according to nutrition researchers from the UK’s University of Reading. Plant compounds called polyphenols, found fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee, wine, soymilk, nuts and chocolate may also contribute to healthy blood sugar via beneficial effects on gut bacteria, the researchers note.10
- Avoid artificial sweeteners: they have been shown to change gut bacteria colonies in ways that may contribute to blood-sugar problems, the UK study shows. 10
- “The best advice for people who want to improve their health and keep their beneficial gut bacteria happy at present is still what we have recommended for many years. Base your diet on plenty of vegetables and fruits and wholegrain breads and cereals. Include nuts, lean meats, and fish, chicken and dairy products. Minimize your intake of highly processed foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and don’t smoke,” says Australian dietitian Nicole Kellow, who is researching gut bacteria in people with prediabetes at Monash University and Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute.
Article Sources Last Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Is Depression All in the Stomach?
Pierre Pallardy, the French alternative therapist, is certain that the roots of depression lie in the stomach. In his 2007 book Gut Instinct: What Your Stomach Is Trying to Tell You, he outlines his belief in the power of the stomach to cause or cure a wide range of physical and mental ailments.
His radical approach has its origins in a troubled childhood in which hunger and other challenges led to an almost permanent stomachache. Attempting to feel better, he found relief in a combination of deep breathing, self-massage, and a well-informed choice of food.
After successfully helping clients with all manner of complaints, Pallardy became increasingly convinced of strong unconscious emotional links between the ‘first brain’ and the ‘second brain’, in the stomach.
This assertion that everything relates back to the abdomen may not appear particularly logical or even defensible, as Pallardy states himself. “I recall the skepticism with which some of my patients and, indeed, my colleagues greeted this notion,” he writes. But he “clung stubbornly” to this view, and years later was gratified to find his beliefs confirmed when scientists discovered that the abdomen produces large numbers of immune cells and neurotransmitters, including serotonin.
The 1998 publication of Michael D. Gershon’s The Second Brain brought this idea to a wider audience. Confident of a strong evidence base, Pallardy decided to publish his advice, based around seven easy steps to health and healing.
So how can taking care of your stomach help alleviate depression? Pallardy states that although depression is first and foremost a state of mind, “it is also an abdominal condition.” He believes that scientific evidence points to a symbiotic relationship between the two brains. When the ‘first’ brain is distressed, the abdomen suffers, he writes. Disappointments, disagreements, or any form of emotional upheaval will “tie the abdomen in knots.” Negative thoughts weigh heavily on the abdomen and disrupt its proper functioning. Restoring equilibrium between the two brains will one day form the basis of psychotherapy, he believes.
Pallardy recommends eating to “modify the brain chemistry” because depression can induce anarchic eating habits.
- Carbohydrates help lift depression by calming the body down and imparting a sense of well-being. But choose carefully, as pastries, cakes and biscuits can lead to weight gain
- Fats, in sensible quantities, can be pleasurable to eat
- To benefit from extra magnesium, go for whole-grain cereals, green vegetables, fresh fruit, certain mineral waters and dark chocolate
- Selenium, another vital mineral, is available in eggs, seafood, nuts, dairy products and poultry
- A “natural tranquilizer and mood-enhancer,” calcium is found in dairy products, eggs, spinach, almonds and tinned fish
- Vitamin B6 can aid depression. It is present in whole-grain cereals, bananas, fish, green vegetables and lean meat.
Pallardy also recommends physical exercise for its powerful anti-depressant effect including the release of endorphins. Running, swimming or walking for 30 minutes every day will trigger the beneficial effects of endorphin release, he believes, although he realizes that trying to start exercising can feel like “having a mountain to climb.”
He also advises regular sessions of abdominal breathing. By slowing down the breath and relaxing deep into the abdomen, we relax and simultaneously take more oxygen into the body.
Pallardy says his technique of self-massage will help you take the battle against depression into your own hands. Gently massaging the abdomen will help establish two-brain harmony. This can involve either a clockwise movement with the flat or heel of the hand, or heavier pressure with the fingers. This should be done while breathing to relax, that is, breathing in gently through the nose for seven to ten seconds, then pausing for a second or two before exhaling from the nose or mouth.
Pallardy’s final piece of advice for depression is to carry out “abdominal meditation.” In this process, thoughts are directed towards the abdomen to develop a fuller awareness of its level of comfort or discomfort. He says that like the upper brain, the abdomen “files” our emotions. Childhood experiences are stored and can be released by a process of sitting calmly with hands on the stomach, and breathing slowly, while detaching yourself from your immediate environment and purely focusing on your abdomen. This will generate a feeling of warmth and a sense of well-being at the level of the upper brain. It also can help open the floodgates to the unconscious and “release memories, emotions and trauma lodged in the early brain since early childhood.” Pallardy recommends this meditation for ten minutes four or five times each day for several weeks to bring about “significant therapeutic results.”. After this time, you will break free from the vicious circle of negativity and you should find your depression lifts, he concludes.
Pallardy, Pierre. Gut Instinct: What Your Stomach Is Trying to Tell You: 7 Easy Steps to Health and Healing. Rodale International Ltd., 2007.
Is Depression All in the Stomach?
5 Physical Signs You May Be Depressed
Do these questions sound familiar?
- Are you tired or fatigued?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- Do you have little interest in doing things you once enjoyed?
- Do you feel sad, depressed, or hopeless?
They are typical questions asked by a doctor (psychiatrist, general practitioner, gynecologist) or provided in a questionnaire to screen for depression. However, you could be snoozing like a baby, performing at work just fine, and training for a marathon only to have some really bad back pain that won’t go away.
Could it be depression?
In a study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 69 percent of persons who met the criteria for depression consulted a doctor for aches and pains. Mood disorders can show up in surprising symptoms — like migraines, bloating, backaches, or joint pain.
Moreover, these aches and pains don’t go away — and can get downright dangerous — if the depression isn’t treated. A 2007 Norwegian study found that those participants with significant depression symptoms had a higher risk of death from most major causes, including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and conditions of the nervous system.
Here are some of the most common physical symptoms associated with depression:
According to Lisa K. Mannix, MD, a board-certified neurologist in Cincinnati who specializes in the treatment of headaches, as many as 40 percent of people with migraine have comorbid depression. There is strong evidence, she says, linking migraine with a variety of comorbid psychiatric and somatic disorders, from stroke to anxiety disorder. A 2009 study at the University of Manitoba, showed that 11 percent of participants who suffered from migraines also experienced one or more kinds of mood disorder, ranging from major depression to panic disorder.
2. Joint Pain
According to one study, people with fibromyalgia are 3.4 times more likely to have major depression than people without fibromyalgia. It’s understandable that someone with chronic joint pain would get depressed — when climbing the stairs hurts, and so does bending down to fill the dog bowl. However, what’s interesting is that the stiffness, inflammation, and damage to the joint cartilage may actually be symptoms of the depression (as well as causing the mood dips).
3. Digestive Problems
I wish I had been aware of the connection between digestive problems — bloating, constipation, irritable bowels — and depression when I was a young girl because I would have pursued treatment for both anxiety and depression before hitting bottom in college. Instead I used laxatives and other over-the-counter remedies that only worsened my condition.
The nervous system of our intestines is so complex — it has an estimated 500 million neurons — that neuroscientists often refer to the gut as the second brain. In fact, the nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin. That’s more than our brain makes. If you are a person who has struggled with stomach and digestion issues like I have, you might be surprised to learn that some depression and anxiety symptoms can be relieved by tending to the gut and feeding it organisms — the right kind of bacteria in a probiotic — that keep it happy.
Also, watch out for foods that stimulate inflammation of the brain (which feels like depression), such as gluten and sugar. These foods might not show up on an IgA blood test for allergies (which measure responses like swelling and breathing difficulties), but that doesn’t mean your body likes them. You may very well be intolerant, which could cause symptoms of anxiety and depression. Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, points out in his bestseller Grain Brain that people who suffer from mood disorders also tend to be gluten sensitive, and vice versa. Depression is found in as many as 52 percent of gluten-sensitive individuals.
4. Chest Pain
Volumes of research have revealed the intimate connection between depression and cardiovascular health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3 in 20 Americans with heart disease experience depression compared to the 1 in 20 average of people without heart disease. Patients with heart disease who are depressed tend to have more cardiac symptoms than those who are not depressed. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people with heart failure who are moderately or severely depressed have four times the risk for early death, and double the risk for being hospitalized, compared to those who are not depressed. Even people with mild symptoms of depression had almost a 60 percent increased risk for death.
Recent studies show that, just as persons with coronary heart disease are at high risk for depression, those with depression are at risk for coronary heart disease. Depression and anxiety affect heart rhythms, increase blood pressure, elevate insulin and cholesterol levels, and raise levels of stress hormones. Chest pain and a rapid heartbeat could very well be symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
5. Back Pain
Back pain is also common in people with anxiety and mood disorders. I have absolutely no scientific data to support this claim, but I notice that I slouch a lot when I feel bad. Slouching then leads to back pain. The discomfort also may involve aches or stiffness up and down the spine, sharp pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back. This is where people carry most of their tension. All the stress throughout the day is held hostage in the areas of the neck and shoulders. This is why if you can afford it (I can’t so I don’t know why I’m recommending this), regular massages can help to prevent depression, or at least keep it from worsening into a major depressive episode. At one point, I used my therapy money for a massage once a month. Because I wasn’t in that critical stage where you need to cry in front of someone for an hour, I believe the massage was more helpful. It relieved some of my stress, which is so often my problem.
Continue the conversation on Project Beyond Blue, the new depression community.
Digestive problems, stomach pain, and appetite changes are caused by many things. They can be signs of medical problems such as ulcers, gallbladder problems, and reflux disease. They can also be caused by dietary problems and too little exercise. Often, they occur when we’re under stress. But they may also be symptoms of depression. See a doctor for a medical evaluation to determine the cause of your symptoms.
When people are depressed, they sometimes develop digestive problems, including diminished appetite, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. Worry, anxiety, and stress can lead to intestinal difficulties. Also, people experiencing a depressive episode may eat not enough or too much, and they may get little exercise. All this can affect the stomach and intestinal tract.
Could your stomach trouble be related to depression? Find out by keeping a symptom diary, which can help you identify patterns. Print out this symptom diary, and fill it out. Then take it to your doctor to discuss what may be causing your symptoms.
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