Not just your mind, here are 5 things depression can do to your body
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 24, 2023
Depression is perhaps the most misunderstood mental health ailment in India. Often considered just as a “sad phase that will go away on its own”, the ramifications of depression on the mind and body are more often than not ignored.
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But the truth is that depression is not “just a phase” and that it actually alters the brain, because of which it needs medical intervention. Not just that, did you know that major depression can also wreck your body’s functioning, right from your immune system to your heart.
In fact, here is how having depression can impact your body:
1. Depression can cause inflammation in the body Depression and stress share an intimate relationship. In fact, a 2010 study published in the journal Current Immunology Review states that chronic stress initiates a series of changes in the way the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland interact—thus triggering depression and anxiety.
Both chronic stress and depression, hence, are known to cause inflammation in the body and weaken the immune system. Many scientists are also trying to understand whether it’s chronic inflammation that causes depression or whether it’s the other way round.
2. It also causes changes in weight One of the most noticeable symptoms of depression are changes in appetite. People with depression are likely to either eat too little or eat too much. Because of this, they may also experience sudden fluctuations in weight. This can put immense pressure on the heart, impact fertility, and leave room for a plethora of other health ailments.
3. Depression is bad for your heart The stress that people with depression experience is to blame for this. When you’re constantly stressed out, your body releases the hormone cortisol which in turn negatively impacts blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. All of these are risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
4. Your sex drive takes a major hit People with depression often report a reduced sex drive and may not feel aroused easily. In fact, they may often find it difficult to achieve an orgasm. But what’s depression got to do with libido? While multiple studies are trying to find a link between the two, so far there is no concrete scientific evidence to explain just why or how depression impacts the libido.
5. Depression also impacts your digestive system Your brain has a big role to play in the functioning of your stomach and intestines. Perhaps this is the reason why many people feel the need to poop or get diarrhoea when they’re nervous. Needless to say, this gets much worse for people with anxiety—and yes, even depression.
According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, when your brain is distressed—like when you are suffering from depression—it can send signals to your gut and intestines, thus causing an upset stomach even though there is no physical cause for it.
Even though, it is thought to just affect your mood and emotions—depression has the capability of doing more than just that. It might originate in the brain, but it can truly mess with your entire body. So don’t take symptoms of depression lightly. Seek professional help immediately.