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World Mental Health Day 2020: What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Depression?

Every year, 10 October is observed as 'World Mental Health Day' to create awareness regarding mental health issues. World Mental Health Day 2020 comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) the theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 is 'Mental Health for All: Greater Investment - Greater Access'. On this World Mental Health Day, take a look at the physical symptoms of depression.

Depression not just attacks you emotionally and mentally but also physically. Where the emotional symptoms take over as the major symptoms, how the mental health disorder is attacking your body is often disregarded by many [1].

Along with the emotional pain, sadness, crying, and feelings of hopelessness, depression has physical symptoms too. It affects the body and causes physical pain as a result of psychological distress. The physical symptoms of depression are equally critical as that of the emotional symptoms.

In the current article, we will take a look at the major physical symptoms of depression.


1. Digestive Problems

Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhoea, can arise due to depression. Overwhelming emotions such as stress and anxiety can disrupt our digestive tracks and cause gastrointestinal pain [2]. You may feel nauseated too often and will be suffering from either constipation or diarrhoea.


2. Eye Problems

Studies have linked depression with decreasing vision [3]. According to a study, it was ascertained that mental health concern may actually affect one's eyesight. Researchers named the condition as contrast perception and pointed out that this could be linked with the claim that depression can make the world look hazy to the individual [4].


3. Headaches

Occasional headaches are normal and almost all of us have suffered from it. Be it lack of sleep or a stressful situation, headaches are mostly not taken into much consideration by people [5]. However, studies point out that not all headaches are caused by stress. If you notice that the pain caused by the headaches are higher than usual, it could be a sign of depression [6].


4. Back Pain

One of the physical symptoms of depression is back pain which tends to increase with time [6]. The pain may not be present in the morning when you wake up but can develop once you sit down at work or at class. Back pain is mostly associated with bad posture or injuries, but backaches can also be a symptom of psychological distress [7].


5. Decreased Pain Tolerance

Depression and pain co-exist. According to studies, a correlation between people who are depressed and decreased pain tolerance has been pointed out [8]. That is, you will find yourself feeling much more pain than others would feel, due to your low pain tolerance, which is rooted in depression.


6. Fatigue

You will find yourself low on energy most of the time. Another physical symptom of depression, fatigue or lower energy levels can make you feel dull and tired the whole day. Unlike everyday fatigue, depression-related fatigue can also cause concentration problems, feelings of irritability, and a lack of concern [9].

Note: Physical illnesses, like infections and viruses, can also cause fatigue, so, it can be challenging to understand whether or not the exhaustion is related to depression. Health experts suggest a way to find out whether your fatigue is related to depression and that is if the everyday fatigue is a sign of this mental illness, other symptoms like sadness, feeling hopeless may also be present [10][11].


7. Stomach Pain And Uneasiness

One of the most common and known physical symptoms of depression, uneasiness in the abdomen can worsen when the level of stress increases.

According to a study, depression can cause an inflamed digestive system which is often mistaken for inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome [12].The pain caused by depression can feel similar to that of the pain associated with diarrhoea or the normal pain that comes when you need to go to the bathroom [13].


8. Sleeping Problems

One can find it difficult to fall asleep while others can find it difficult to get out of bed and go on about one's day. Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in people who are depressed [14][15].


On A Final Note…

A mental health disorder not only affects your mind but also your body. If you are feeling down and losing the grip on yourself along with these aforementioned symptoms being present, waste no time, go to a doctor. Failing to go the doctor can affect your bodily functions and your overall health.

List Of Suicide Helpline Numbers

  • iCall: 9152987821 | Mon-Sat, 8:00 AM -10:00 PM |
  • COOJ Mental Health Foundation (COOJ): 0832-2252525 | 01:00 PM - 07:00 PM | Monday to Friday
  • Fortis Stress Helpline: +918376804102
  • Parivarthan: +91 7676 602 602 | 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM | Monday to Friday
  • Connecting Trust: +91 992 200 1122 | +91-992 200 4305 | 12:00 PM to 08:00 PM | All days of the week
  • Roshni Trust: 040-66202000, 040-66202001 | 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM | Monday to Sunday
  • Sahai: 080-25497777 | 10 AM- 8 PM Monday To Saturday |
  • Sumaitri: 011-23389090 | | 2 PM- 10 PM Monday To Friday; 10 AM - 10 PM Saturday And Sunday
  • Sanjeevani: 011-24311918, 24318883 | Timings: 10:00 AM - 5.30 PM (Monday to Friday)
  • Sneha: 044-24640050 (24 HOURS) | 044-24640060 8 AM - 10 PM | Lifeline: - 033-24637401 | 033-24637432 | 10 AM - 6 PM

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can the mind cause physical symptoms?

A. Yes. Studies over the years have demonstrated that stress, depression, and emotional events can cause physical symptoms ranging from short-term and moderate pain to severe and chronic pain and discomfort.

Q. Is depression a physical illness?

A. Depression doesn't just cause physical symptoms; it can also increase your risk for -- or may worsen certain physical illnesses or conditions.

Q. What does depression do to your brain?

A. While depression can affect a person psychologically, it also has the potential to affect physical structures in the brain. These physical changes range from inflammation and oxygen restriction to actual shrinking.


1. COOJ Mental Health Foundation (COOJ)- Helpline: 0832-2252525 | 01:00 PM - 07:00 PM ( Monday to Friday)
2. Parivarthan- Helpline: +91 7676 602 602 | 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Friday)
3. Connecting Trust- Helpline: +91 992 200 1122 | +91-992 200 4305 | 12:00 PM to 08:00 PM (All days of the week)
4. Roshni Trust- Helpline: 040-66202000, 040-66202001 | 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM (Monday to Sunday)
5. Sahai Helpline: 080-25497777 / Email at - SAHAIHELPLINE@GMAIL.COM | 10 AM- 8 PM (Monday to Saturday)
6. Sumaitri: 011-23389090 / FEELINGSUICIDAL@SUMAITRI.NET |2 PM- 10 PM (Monday To Friday); 10 AM - 10 PM (Saturday and Sunday)
7. Sneha: 044-24640050 (24 HOURS) / 044-24640060 | Email at- HELP@SNEHAINDIA.ORG |8 AM - 10 PM
8. Lifeline: 033-24637401 / 033-24637432 | Email at LIFELINEKOLKATA@GMAIL.COM | 10 AM - 6 PM