The Physical Response Of Depression
As a mood disorder, depression can have a powerful, negative effect on how you feel, what you think, and the way you behave. People living with depression often find that it interferes with their ability to perform tasks and get through their normal daily routine.
Although researchers havent uncovered any single underlying cause of depression, they do know that brain chemistry, hormonal imbalances, and genetic factors are often involved.
While researchers still have much to learn about the biology of depression, they do know that an untreated depressive disorder can take a major toll on your personal life as well as your physical health.
Untreated depressive disorders are associated with:
Understanding The Nervous System
The nervous system is composed of two parts:
- The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord
- The peripheral nervous system, which consists of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord and extend to all parts of the body
The big job of the nervous system is to transmit signals between the brain and the rest of the body, including the internal organs. Significantly, without the nervous system we would not be able to move, breathe, think, and more.2
Within the central nervous system lies two subcategories: the sympathetic nervous system, which initiates the stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body rest and return to day-to-day functioning.3
Why Does My Doctor Need To Know About My Emotions
You may not be used to talking to your doctor about your feelings or problems in your personal life. But remember, he or she cant always tell that youre feeling stressed, anxious, or upset just by looking at you. Its important to be honest with your doctor if you are having these feelings.
First, he or she will need to make sure that other health problems arent causing your physical symptoms. If your symptoms arent caused by other health problems, you and your doctor can address the emotional causes of your symptoms. Your doctor may suggest ways to treat your physical symptoms while you work together to improve your emotional health.
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What Is Major Depression
Major depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder and mental illness that causes significantly and persistently low moods. More than just feeling down for a day or two, depression causes a bad mood that you cant shake for weeks. Some of the key symptoms and signs of depression are:
- Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Anxiety, restlessness, frustration, or irritability
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or ashamed
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Thoughts of suicide and death
You may be diagnosed with depression if you have some of these symptoms for a couple weeks or longer, if they are severe enough to disrupt your normal functioning, and if they cannot be explained by substance abuse, medications, or an illness.
The Physical Response Of Anxiety
Constant anxiety is an emotional response, but those feelings of worry or fear also give rise to a physical response. When you feel anxious, your neurotransmitters relay these impulses to your sympathetic nervous system, making your muscles contract and your heart rate and respiration increase. It also redirects your blood flow from your abdominal organs to your brain.
When anxiety is the norm rather than the exception, its physical effects can become intensified, leading to physical symptoms like lightheadedness, stomach pain, and a high resting heart rate.
Here are some of the physical problems associated with anxiety disorders:
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Effects Of Stress On Depression
Ordinarily, stress produces negative effects on a persons mental and physical health. But the effects can be worsened if it is accompanied by depression. While you are having stress, it will be quite for you to stay positive and strategize for coping. Therefore, depression symptoms go more intense and severe.
Stress, of course, comes with a markable effect on ones mood. An individual might experience anxiety and irritability that is common. Furthermore, anxiety can lead to more adverse feelings of frustration.
Those who reach this stage of becoming anxious, frustrated, and easily irritable, often feel:
Excretory And Digestive Systems
Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.
There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
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Do Women React To Stress Differently Than Men Do
Yes, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience . Women who are stressed are more likely than men who are stressed to experience depression and anxiety. Experts do not fully know the reason for the differences, but it may be related to how mens and womens bodies process stress hormones. Long-term stress especially is more likely to cause problems with moods and anxiety in women.
Depression Affects Your Mind And Body
Everyone feels sad or blue from time to time for a few days or weeks. Depression is when these feelings don’t go away and they interfere with daily life. Depression is a real illness that can develop at any age. It is one of the most common mental health problems in the U.S. Depression makes you feel sad, helpless, and hopeless. It gets in the way of your life and relationships. Depression causes chemical changes in the brain that inhibit your ability to think and act. But, with help, you can feel better again.
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The Effects Of Depression In Your Body
Depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses in the United States, affecting about
Feeling sad or anxious at times is a normal part of life, but if these feelings last more than two weeks they could be symptoms of depression. Its estimated that each year 17 million American adults will experience depression. However, clinical depression, especially left untreated, can interrupt your day-to-day life and cause a ripple effect of additional symptoms.
Depression affects how you feel and can also cause changes in your body. Major depression is considered a serious medical condition that may have a dramatic effect on your quality of life.
Is Depression A Cause Or An Effect
Because depression doesnt cause these diseases but only adds to the harm they do, it is hard to blame depression directly. To complicate matters, being ill is a risk factor to becoming depressed in the first place.
However, for those over 55 who are diagnosed with depression, the risk of premature death four times greater than those without depression.
Patients also died from natural causes significantly more often than did individuals in the general population bipolar patients and unipolar women were particularly prone to death from cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular causes.
Along with these health risks, those who are depressed are much more likely to turn to alcohol or illegal drugs in an attempt to escape their symptoms. Addiction then presents with further health effects as a consequence of the original depression.
The attempt to relieve stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms then becomes harmful as the compulsive behavior takes over. The obsessive behaviors can revolve around eating, gambling, the Internet, shopping, sex, alcohol or any of a number of habits used to mask and evade stress or depression.
Unfortunately, these strategies only work in the very short term. Soon the addiction becomes just another source of anxiety, stress and depression. The distressed person becomes trapped in a vicious cycle and many who seek treatment for substance abuse also suffer from underlying depression.
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What Is Stress And How Does It Affect Our Brains And Bodies
Stress is our reaction to a threatening event or stimulus. Such events and stimuli are called stressors. People perceive and react to stressors differently. Something one person would rate as highly stressful might be rated as considerably less stressful by someone else. These responses are affected by such factors as genetics and life experiences.
Stress can be classified as positive, tolerable or toxic. Toxic stress occurs when we are faced with a continuous stressor or triggered by multiple sources and can have a cumulative toll on our physical and mental health. It is an experience that overwhelms us and leaves us feeling powerless and hopeless.
The Toll Depression Takes On The Body
Depression is much more than just a brain disorder. It causes physical symptoms and can cause lasting damage to the body because of both direct effects and indirect complications of living with this mental illness. For instance, depression can change your appetite. It may trigger you to eat less and lose an unhealthy amount of weight. Or it can cause you to eat more, leading to weight gain and associated health conditions.
You may also experience chronic pain as a result of depression. Unexplained aches and pains, like headaches, back pain, or joint tenderness, can be triggered by depression. Although not fully understood, it may be that depression makes you less tolerant of pain, so that everything just hurts more.
Living with depression puts you at risk for serious physical health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. The reason for this may be that depression triggers an overproduction of clotting factors and variation in heart rate. These are both factors that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Gastrointestinal distress is a potential complication of depression. The gut actually has a major connection to mood and mental health and is sometimes referred to as the bodys second brain. There are important receptors in the gut and an ecosystem of bacteria, which when out of whack can affect mood. If you are depressed, you may experience stomach aches, indigestion, nausea, cramps, or bloating.
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Early Losses And Trauma
Certain events can have lasting physical, as well as emotional, consequences. Researchers have found that early losses and emotional trauma may leave individuals more vulnerable to depression later in life.
Profound early losses, such as the death of a parent or the withdrawal of a loved one’s affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression. When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she can’t easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return.
Traumas may also be indelibly etched on the psyche. A small but intriguing study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who were abused physically or sexually as children had more extreme stress responses than women who had not been abused. The women had higher levels of the stress hormones ACTH and cortisol, and their hearts beat faster when they performed stressful tasks, such as working out mathematical equations or speaking in front of an audience.
Depression Affects Your Whole Body
Brain chemicals affect your body as well as your mood. So depression may do more than just make you feel low. You may also feel bad physically. Depression can:
Cause trouble with mental tasks such as remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
Make you feel nervous and jumpy
Cause trouble sleeping. Or you may sleep too much.
Change your appetite
Cause headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains
Drain your body of energy
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Connecting Stress And Inflammation
Inflammation is the immune systems first line of defense in dealing with threats. The immune system constantly monitors the brain and body for threats. The types of threats that the immune system is looking for include mental challenges, relationship challenges, injuries, irritations, diseases, or toxins. So usually, inflammation is another good thing. However, long-term stress can cause excessive inflammation. This happens because the continuing stress causes the immune system to produce pro-inflammatory proteins, which signal that there is a threat to the body, even when there is none. Trouble results if pro-inflammatory immune proteins stay active for too long. Healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues become damaged. The pro-inflammatory proteins also cause changes in the brain.
Evidence links pro-inflammatory immune proteins with depression. For one thing, depressed people have more pro-inflammatory proteins. Second, people who have been exposed to long-term stress often have both inflammation and depression. Third, people with inflammatory conditions often get depressed. Fourth, animal studies show that animals get depressed when given pro-inflammatory substances. They get better after being given anti-inflammatory medicines. All these pieces of evidence link inflammation to depression in certain people .
What Influences Our Capacity For Coping With Stress
Several factors influence our capacity for coping with stress:
- The presence of a social network
- Our skill and confidence in assessing a complex situation and then developing and evaluating solutions
- Personal variables such as physical health, experience, confidence, anxiety threshold and problem-solving abilities .
Stressful events are a universal part of the human experience. You may or may not be able to change your current situation, but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you.
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Physical Health And Mental Health
We often think of our mind and body as separate, but our mental health and physical health are interconnected.
Physical health problems significantly increase our risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa.
Nearly one in three people with a long-term physical health condition also has a mental health problem, most often depression or anxiety.
Depression And Other Illness
It is common for people who have chronic health problems to also have depression. It can often be hard to tell which one caused the other. A person might become depressed after finding out they have a health problem. But some studies suggest being depressed may make certain health problems more likely. And some depressed people stop taking care of themselves. This may make them more likely to get sick.
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Prolonged Stress Will Disrupt Homeostasis
Physical or psychological stress may negatively impact our health. There is evidence that stress can directly affect our bodies through the production of stress hormones, such as catecholamines and glucocorticoids like cortisol. When our bodies are faced with a stressor, our bodies react in a primitive sense termed the fight-or-flight response. Blood from our skin, organs, and extremities is directed to the brain and larger muscles in preparation to fight the impending danger or flee from it. In addition, our senses are heightened, glucose and fatty acids are released into the bloodstream for energy, and our immune and digestive systems are shut down to provide us with the necessary energy to fight the stressor. However, if we are under prolonged stress, our bodies internal environment is destabilized and therefore homeostasis is disrupted.
How Depression Affects The Body
It’s easy to forget that depression impacts both your mind and your body. Understanding these effects is critical to maintaining control over your mental health.
When we talk about depression, a lot of attention is focused on the debilitating effects it has on our mood and emotions. So much so that its easy to forget that changes in your brain have a powerful impact on the rest of the body. Knowing this, is it any wonder that depression contributes to a number of physical problems that affect everything from your blood vessels to your digestive system?
According to the National Institute of Mental health, about 6.7 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from depression. Also called major depressive illness or clinical depression, the repercussions of this mental health disorder are much more extensive than feeling sadness, grief, or a sense of guilt. In fact, depression can manifest a number of symptoms in the body that are easy to ignore or dismiss as a result of aging.
Physical symptoms of depression
In addition to a change in mood, those who are depressed often feel tired and tend to have trouble sleeping. Many people with depression also experience chronic headaches and body pains that dont subside with medication. Other common physical symptoms of depression include decreased interest in sex and other activities that bring pleasure, inability to concentrate, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions.
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What Is A Positive Stress Test
A positive or abnormal result: Doctors may conclude that the stress test indicates cardiac ischemia, which means the heart muscle did not receive enough oxygenated blood during the test. It is possible for this conclusion to be supported by changes in the ECG and imaging. Furthermore, clinical findings could support it as well.
Residential Treatment Provides A Space To Heal
One of the most important reasons to choose residential care for depression treatment is that it gives you the space, the time, and the opportunity to truly focus on healing. There are no distractions of home, work, and other responsibilities, only a safe place to get better. The damage that depression has done to your brain and body can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed with good care.
The most effective treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and medications, both of which take time to work. This is another reason that residential treatment is a smart choice for depression care. It gives you time to develop a rapport with a therapist and to make positive changes. It also gives you a chance to try one or more antidepressants to find the medication that will adjust your brain chemicals in just the right way for maximum impact with fewest side effects.
Getting relief from depression through treatment will immediately begin to help your brain, reversing the shrinking of certain areas, the inflammation, and the overflow of cortisol. This in turn will help you feel better overall, and you will begin to get relief for the physical symptoms.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles-based program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.
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