Where Can I Find Support
If you are concerned about any symptoms of depression or mental illness, talk to a GP or medical professional.
If you need to talk to someone about mental illness or a crisis in your life, please consider calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, or for advice and support contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
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.
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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 , 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.
When To Seek Help
Depression can make things feel hopeless, but help is available. It is advisable to speak with a doctor or mental health professional if any symptoms are causing concern or difficulty with day-to-day tasks. These professionals will be able to make a diagnosis and talk someone through the treatment options.
There is no need to wait until symptoms become severe before seeking support. However, anyone who is having thoughts about suicide should seek help as soon as possible.
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Rash Caused By Stress
A rash is a change of the human skin which affects its color, appearance, or texture, A rash may be localized in one part of the body, or affect all the skin. Rashes may cause the skin to change color, itch, become warm, bumpy, chapped, dry, cracked or blistered, swell, and may be painful.The causes, and therefore treatments for rashes, vary widely.
Chronic Abdominal Pain And Recurring Abdominal Pain
, MD, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Chronic abdominal pain is pain that is present for more than 3 months. It may be present all the time or come and go . Chronic abdominal pain usually occurs in children beginning after age 5 years. About 10 to 15% of children aged 5 to 16 years, particularly those aged 8 to 12 years, have chronic or recurring abdominal pain. It is somewhat more common among girls. Chronic abdominal pain is also common among adults, affecting women more often than men.
People with chronic abdominal pain may also have other symptoms, depending on the cause.
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Gut Health And Anxiety
Given how closely the gut and brain interact, it becomes easier to understand why you might feel nauseated before giving a presentation, or feel intestinal pain during times of stress. That doesn’t mean, however, that functional gastrointestinal conditions are imagined or “all in your head.” Psychology combines with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms. Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract.
In addition, many people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people do because their brains are more responsive to pain signals from the GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.
Based on these observations, you might expect that at least some patients with functional GI conditions might improve with therapy to reduce stress or treat anxiety or depression. Multiple studies have found that psychologically based approaches lead to greater improvement in digestive symptoms compared with only conventional medical treatment.
Surprises On The Scale
Depression can affect your diet habits. Some folks lose their appetite. Others nosh for comfort. Either way, depression can cause weight fluctuations.
The connection between depression and weight gain/loss is a bit tricky. Some antidepressant meds might lead to weight gain. But, on the other hand, antidepressants can also improve your general mood and motivation to exercise which might help you shed a few pounds.
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Physical Symptoms Of Depression
One of the most common symptoms of depression is the feeling of being constantly tired and drained.
While depression exhaustion can be mental, it often presents as a lack of physical energy.
This may occur as a result of low-quality sleep, especially for those that attempt to manage their depression with drugs or alcohol.
For some people, low quality sleep means insomnia and sleep deprivation, while for others it might mean sleeping constantly without ever feeling rested.
Alcohol adds to this effect by interrupting the REM cycle, causing the brain to miss out on the most restorative periods of sleep throughout the night.
Incessant fatigue makes working and socializing especially difficult, and can contribute to the sad and hopeless feelings that often accompany depression.
Fatigue may also cause a depressed individual to abandon their workout routine and become less active, which can exacerbate depression over time.
Aches and Pains
Depression can quite literally hurt. Just as when you have the flu and your body seems to ache all over, depression can cause mild pain and discomfort to amplify, becoming severely distracting and debilitating.
Because our brains are responsible for producing the sensation of pain, poor mental health can cause inappropriate responses to varying degrees of pain.
Research has confirmed that depression lowers pain tolerance, intensifying pain that would otherwise be manageable.
Treating Pain And Depression In Combination
In pain rehabilitation centers, specialists treat both problems together, often with the same techniques, including progressive muscle relaxation, hypnosis, and meditation. Physicians prescribe standard analgesics acetaminophen, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and in severe cases, opiates along with a variety of psychiatric drugs .
Physical therapists provide exercises not only to break the vicious cycle of pain and immobility but also to help relieve depression. Cognitive and behavioral therapies teach pain patients how to avoid fearful anticipation, banish discouraging thoughts, and adjust everyday routines to ward off physical and emotional suffering. Psychotherapy helps demoralized patients and their families tell their stories and describe the experience of pain in its relation to other problems in their lives.
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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 Bostons 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 may also be present when you are depressed.
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 . The survey, conducted between 2005 and 2010, found that approximately 43 percent of adults with depression are obese.
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Symptom #6 Youre Never In The Mood
For many people, depression has a marked impact on sexual libido whether its due to emotional reasons or physical reasons . Even anti-depressants can affect peoples sex drive.
Whatever the case, its worth talking to your doctor about a change in sex drive, to pinpoint the cause and find a solution sometimes a simple change in medication or treatment can help. It might feel awkward, but remember, doctors are professionals and its their job to help.
What Is Samhsas National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locators.
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The Immune System Suffers
Mr. Sandman plays a major role in your overall health. Your immune system fights infections while youre catching Zzzs. If your depression is keeping you awake youre at a higher risk of getting sick.
Evidence also shows depression is linked to inflammation. Thats your bodys response to stress, infection, and injury. Inflammation goes hand-in-hand with compromised immunity.
Physical Signs Of Depression You Might Not Expect
Most of us know the textbook symptoms of depression, like irritability, fatigue, and a feeling of sadness you just can’t shake. But what about muscle aches, tummy troubles, or waking up before dawn? Surprisingly, these can also be warning signs of depressionand if you’re not sure whether your current funk is anything to worry about, they can help clue you in that something deeper is going on. Here are a few lesser-known symptoms to look out for.
Obviously, if you went overboard in a CrossFit class, you know why your muscles are sore. But if you have nagging pain you can’t explain, depression could be the cause. Backaches, muscle aches, and chronic pain flare-ups can all be a sneaky symptom. “Pain is modulated by mood, and vice versa,” says Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami. “Someone who is happy may not feel pain to the extent that someone with depression does.”
Depression affects the hormones that regulate appetite, which means you could see the number on the scale start to move up or down. “Hormones commonly disrupted by depression tell us when we are hungry and when we have had enough to eat,” says Keith Humphreys, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care. “As a result, many people with depression eat too much or too little.” Sleep issues associated with depression can compound the problem, since a lack of sleep can mess with those same hunger and fullness hormones.
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Leaky Gut: The Connection Between Gut Health And Depression
Weve long used phrases like gut feeling, butterflies in my stomach, and gut-wrenching in recognition of the link between our gastrointestinal system and our emotions, but theres actually more scientific truth to this idea than we previously realized. Intestinal permeability, more commonly known as a leaky gut, has been linked to mental health conditions like depression in many studies.
In psychiatry, we have limited our focus to the imbalances of neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain. However, new research shows us that brain health is connected to whole body health, especially gut health. If we continue to overlook this relationship, we may leave many patients without the treatment that they need.
Assembling A Treatment Team
Patients benefit the most when chronic pain and depression are treated together and utilize a team of people. This team of experts may include:
- Physician. A physician can provide a through examination and evaluation, give a diagnosis, and, if necessary, prescribe both pain and psychiatric medications.
- Pain specialist. A pain specialist can educate the patient about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and help design a treatment plan.
- A Therapist. Regular sessions with a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, or other form of psychotherapy, can help address anxious or negative thinking patterns and teach coping skills that reduce symptoms of both pain and depression. They can also work with patients families to help them better understand chronic pain and depression.
- A Physical Therapist. A physical therapist who can help improve mobility, reduce pain, and increase low mood by introducing helpful exercises and muscle relaxation techniques.
Other professionals such as nutritionists, acupuncturists, and occupational therapists can provide special knowledge to help curb chronic pain and depression.
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We Need New Approaches For Understanding And Treating Depression And Other Mental Health Conditions
According to one study, only 46% of patients have full resolution of depressive symptoms when receiving a combination of talk therapy and medication. This means that our current treatments, even when administered properly, may be missing the mark.
In the past ten years, there has been an explosion of literature showing the importance of gut health in psychiatric conditions. Specifically, there have been a number of studies that revealed a link between biomarkers for a leaky gut and occurrence of depression and suicidality. One study even found that the levels of biomarkers directly correlated with severity of suicidal symptoms.
One of the limitations of these studies is their small sample size, and larger studies in the future may give us more conclusive evidence about the role of gut health in psychiatry. In the meantime, however, the current evidence encourages us to consider the whole body in mental health conditions, an approach that may help us better understand treatment-resistant depression.
What Does Your Guts Brain Control
Unlike the big brain in your skull, the ENS cant balance your checkbook or compose a love note. Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination, explains Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, whose research on the enteric nervous system has garnered international attention. The enteric nervous system doesnt seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brainwith profound results.
The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around, Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes.
These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety, Pasricha says. Thats important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.
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Lets Get Physical: 10 Ways Depression Affects Your Body
Theres plenty of research that backs up the fact that depression affects more than just your mind. Physical symptoms can indicate that youre about to enter a depressive period, or they can be signs of more serious types of depression.
That said, dont assume that these symptoms alone mean youre depressed. If they go along with lingering feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts, that could mean theyre part of depression.
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, its 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.
Whats the link? According to those Harvard researchers, depression can cause an inflamed digestive system, with pain thats 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 theres an imbalance of good bacteria, symptoms of anxiety and depression may arise.
Eating a balanced diet and taking probiotics can improve ones gut health, which may enhance mood, too, but further research is needed.
Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Often caused by food poisoning or gastrointestinal viruses, its 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
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