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The Physical Side of Emotional Pain

woman with depressionThose who suffer from depression and anxiety know all too well that emotional pain is just as much physical as it is mental. Depression is a complicated and all-consuming disorder that leaves its sufferers battling each day to overcome both emotional and physical pain. For approximately half of depression sufferers, physical pain is the first indication of a diagnosis of depression. Those suffering from depression may first complain of aches and pains unassociated with a physical injury. What they may perceive as a physical ailment could actually be caused by their emotional state of mind. What is the link between depression and chronic pain, and where can sufferers go to get help?

The Pain is Real

While some who have never experienced depression may suppose that the pain associated with mental health issues is simply perceived, it is very much real. Depression can cause physical changes to one’s body that may cause painful side effects. Doctors believe that depression is related to improper regulation of nerve cell networks that connect the brain to areas that process emotional information. Since some of these networks also process information related to physical pain, a person suffering from depression may also experience physical side effects.

Recent evidence has also indicated a connection between depression and the cardiovascular system. Studies show that depression increases the risk of heart disease and intensifies the chances of experiencing a potentially deadly cardiac episode. Researchers also believe that depression may alter the blood platelets responsible for clotting.

The Physical Side Effects of Depression

Physical reactions to depression, and their side effects, may include:

  • Back pain.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Joint pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Exhaustion or fatigue, to the point where some describe physical movement as extremely difficult.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Change in appetite resulting in either weight gain or loss.
  • A worsening of chest pain for those suffering from heart, stomach, or lung problems.
  • A slowing of the digestive system, which can cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • An acceleration of changes in bone mass that could result in osteoporosis.
  • Headaches, or a worsening of symptoms for those already suffering from migraines.
  • A disruption in the body’s need for restorative sleep, resulting in difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too many hours per night. Approximately 80 percent of those with depression suffer from insomnia, while 15 percent claim to sleep too much.

Available Treatment

Experts understand that persistent pain can hinder a person’s ability to deal with depression and effectively recover. If you or a loved one are suffering from depression and experiencing physical pain, know that there are resources available to help you to deal with the underlying issues causing your symptoms. Your doctor, counselor or therapist will help you to treat the physical side effects of your emotional pain to help ensure a complete recovery.

If you are ready to begin the road to recovery today, contact the mental health specialists at Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800.