How Untreated Depression Can Harm Your Physical Health

Untreated Depression Physical Health Grassroots Healthcare

Across the world, it’s estimated that over 350 million people suffer from depression that is severe enough to interfere with how they function. A sometimes life-threatening mental health condition, depression can cause a range of symptoms, including extreme sadness, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

But there are aspects of depression that are rarely talked about in medical offices, especially the physical symptoms of depression, which can make the condition difficult to diagnose and treat. At Grassroots Healthcare, we understand depression beyond its impact on your mood, and we’re here to help you see if and how depression is impacting your physical health.

Physical symptoms of depression

More often than not, depression manifests in physical symptoms including, but not limited to:

When in a primary care setting, a patient with depression is more likely to present with physical symptoms than emotional ones, often times exclusively, with over 69% of patients only mentioning their physical issues and not discussing depressive thoughts and feelings.

What’s more, patients who report a high number of physical symptoms are more likely to have depression, and these symptoms can be used to predict depression or another mood disorder. When patients report nine or more physical symptoms to their primary care doctor, they have a 60% risk of also suffering from a mental health condition.

The connection between physical symptoms and depression

Physical symptoms do more than predict depression, they also make the condition more severe and extend its duration. Depressed patients with physical symptoms report more suicidal  thoughts and are more likely to act on them.

Although the underlying connection isn’t clearly understood, we do know that depression impacts the body in multiple ways, all leading to the manifestation of pain and other bodily woes. For instance, the brain responses to pain are regulated by the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, which both play a vital role in stabilizing the mood.

Depression also impacts your sleep, and we know that when people don’t get enough sleep, their body doesn’t function at its best. Because they’re tired, they may find it difficult to concentrate, their judgment may be affected, and their immune system weakens, leading to the likelihood of more medical issues. Their muscles and joints may ache, leading to overall feelings of just not feeling well.

Suicidal ideations and attempts are perhaps the most concerning physical symptoms of depression.

Treating the physical and mental aspects of depression

At Grassroots Healthcare, we take a holistic approach while looking for the underlying condition causing your depression. Through an individualized treatment plan, we look at hormone levels and nutrient deficiencies that could lead to depression and offer solutions to balance your neurotransmitters.

Through an integrative approach, counseling can help patients improve their mood, establish healthy coping mechanisms, and motivate them to make positive changes.

In cases where it’s necessary (which is not all), prescription medications can balance the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These medications are highly effective at treating depression and, in many cases, as the depression lessens, so do the physical symptoms.

Call us or book an appointment here on our website if you want to learn more about depression, both its mental and physical aspects, and how we can help you deal with it.

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