Somatic or Physical Symptoms of Depression

Somatic or physical symptoms of depression are often associated in some capacity in cases of persons suffering from depression. Every person is different feels the pain from depression differently. Somatic or physical symptoms of depression are common in many cases of this mental illness.

The mind is a powerful tool, and just because depression is a mental illness, that does not mean that the disease does not manifest physically as well. Depression often leads to these somatic or physical symptoms of depression. In fact, in addition to prolonged periods of sadness and hopelessness, some of the physical symptoms like weight loss/gain and fatigue¬†are among some of the most common depression symptoms. Researchers say the reason for somatic or physical symptoms of depression are caused also in a person’s appetite. Sleep is also another huge physical factor that can be affected by depression. Because the mind has so much control over the way a person’s body feels, reacts and heals from injury, core symptoms of the mental illness often manifest in bodily symptoms.

Other Somatic/Physical Symptoms of Depression:

Because the mental drain that occurs during depression can easily cause a disruption in sleep, nearly 80 percent of those suffering from depression have symptoms of insomnia. Another 15 percent of depressed individuals go the other way and have troubles with sleeping excessively. Because of these struggles, many patients suffering from depression complain to their doctor or mental health care provider that they have body fatigue. Sleep is often found to be a cure for many ailments, allowing the body to heal in an undisturbed state. However, when a depressed person is not getting enough sleep, those other physical symptoms are likely to prolong in the body and perhaps worsen over time. Energy loss makes the depressed person unable to function properly both physically and mentally and can often lead to the severity of psychomotor retardation.

Eating a healthy diet is an essential part of living life smoothly and happily. However, when a person is suffering from depression, they are more likely to have issues with maintaining a healthy appetite. Those with depression are also at risk for developing problems with eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa or Binge eating.

There are other somatic or physical symptoms of depression that can manifest in an actual physical form but have no direct cause. Some patients with depression have problems with regular headaches or migraines as well as back aches, neck pain and joint aches. Usually these types of physical symptoms take the form of multiple somatic complaints among the majority of the severely depressed. However, this is not to say that the pain isn’t real or is all in the person’s head. The pain is real, but is difficult to identify the source unless the person has been already diagnosed with depression. If depression has not been considered as a possible source of the pain, many individuals will seek the help of a general practitioner before they know what is actually wrong. The GP is then trained to look for a physical cause for the pain, not a mental reason. However, that is why it is important to examine these aches and pains along with other symptoms like moodiness, irritability, a feeling of hopelessness, low self-esteem, prolonged feelings of sadness and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Depression Treatment:

Once these symptoms, both mental and physical, have persisted for at least two weeks, it is a good idea to consult a professional for help. There are many mental health professionals that are able to diagnose if the pains might be related to the depression. Treatment is important to get as early as possible to help the depressed individual move toward a successful recovery from the mental illness. If the physical symptoms are related to the depression, these symptoms should lessen as the treatment for depression increases. The physical symptoms can also be treated, which might help with the overall progress toward recovery from the emotional turmoil of depression. Antidepressants are one of the treatment options in addition to psychotherapy. To determine which treatment is best, it is a good idea to consult with a doctor or other mental health care professional. The use of the antidepressants to regulate the hormones like serotonin in the brain will help provide relief for the somatic or physical symptoms of depression.

Sources: psychologytoday.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov