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Living in 2020 we still debate about depression, is it just a phase or something more serious? Well, at least we have started talking about it. It was not long ago that it was more commonly known as “deen se doori” than what it actually is. Unfortunately, many people still think the same. Maybe discussing some serious side effects of depression that no one can ignore.
According to a study published in 2021 almost 43% of university-going students show symptoms of depression. These alarming prevalence should make us open our eyes to the horrors of depression. This should make us focus more on this horrible disease and work on its treatment. To do so, we need to first learn the severity of it and understand the mental, emotional, and physical effects of depression.
The Horror Story
Have you seen the interrogation scenes in movies where a police officer listens to the story of a crime victim? It raises goosebumps, right? That is exactly how I felt while reading the horror stories of people with severe depression.
Shawn Colvin a Grammy award winner tells her story of depression as “It’s this hideous psychic pain. And there’s no pleasure or lightness.” She describes the effects of depression as “To get from the bed to the bathtub is sometimes an impossible feat.”
A 51-year-old victim of depression called Trish says “I felt like killing myself.” Her symptoms were getting worse for months. She lost almost 14 pounds within a short period of time. Working at a dog food company, she believed that she had made a mistake and will cause thousands of dogs to die. This will cause her to get arrested and she would rather kill herself than go to prison.
On the brighter side, many people share their stories of overcoming depression successfully. Just a search on the internet will show you thousands of success stories of previously depressed people. The same people that were on the brink of killing themselves are now motivating others to hold on and fight for the happiness they deserve.
Physical Effects Of Depression
Depression is not just a wave of sadness. It is not even a mere imbalance in brain chemicals. Research suggests that depression is not caused by too high or too low brain chemicals. It can have multiple causes like faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.
Believe it or not, it can cause structural issues and can lead to immobility and unproductivity. Depression is one of the leading causes of the inability to perform well in workspaces.
The most common physical symptoms of depression are
- Chronic fatigue
- Low sex drive
- Decreased appetite
- Disturbances in sleep cycle (insomnia or oversleeping)
These physical effects of depression occur due to the abnormal functioning of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. This can alter the pain threshold, lower your sex drive and disturb your sleep. The physical effects of depression are often neglected by not only the patient but by their families and even doctors too.
Effects Of Depression On Digestive System
Depression can directly affect your appetite and nutritional status. People can exhibit unusual eating behaviors to cope with their depression. Some overeat which causes weight gain, and some avoid eating at all which leads to low body weight. These issues can lead to more serious lifelong issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, geriatric anorexia, and malnutrition. The common effects of depression related to eating and nutrition are.
- Stomach cramps
- Inefficient absorption of nutrients
- Stomach aches
These symptoms can be treated with medications but only for some time. You will have to correct your diet eventually, for which you will have to treat your depression. Moreover, eating a good diet itself can help in the treatment of depression and the effects of depression.
Studies suggest that certain micronutrient deficiencies are strongly associated with the onset of depression and increasing the effects of depression on the body. These nutrients include all the B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and other minerals.
Effects of Depression On The Central Nervous Symptoms
The association of depression with the brain is obvious, but it affects the whole central nervous system. Sometimes the effects of depression on the central nervous system are disregarded as “getting older”. Although older people face difficulty in recognition and reaction, American Psychological Association suggests that older people with depression have an even poor reaction time and have more difficulties with recognition than other healthy adults and depressed youngsters.
As depression is marked by hopelessness, sadness, feeling and emptiness, and hollowness, it doesn’t end here these symptoms trigger physical symptoms like crying and physical pain in the head or chest. Keep in mind that not every depressed person cries.
Depression affects the functioning of every single part of the brain. According to Harvard Health Publishing, depression causes a prominent increase in the functioning of the amygdala. Amygdala is responsible for emotions such as anger, pleasure, sorrow, fear, and sexual arousal. The amygdala is activated when a person recalls emotionally charged memories, such as a frightening situation.
The Hippocampus of the brain is responsible for long-term memory and long registered emotions. According to some studies, the hippocampus is smaller in size in some patients with clinical depression. The continuous stress that often comes with depression impairs the growth of nerve cells in this part of the brain.
Effects of Depression On The Immune System
As depression affects all the body systems and functions, it is only natural that it reduces your overall immunity. Depression and stress make you more vulnerable to infection and disease. Depression is also associated with increased inflammation. Although the exact reason and connection are yet to be discovered, it is there. Managing the inflammation can help in reducing the effects of depression on the immune system and all body organs.
Effects Of Depression On The Cardiovascular System
Depression takes a toll on your heart health, and your heart disease can cause depression too. Stress hormone increase heart rate and tighten blood vessels. These two things mark the state of emergency. If your body remains under this state for a prolonged time, it can lead to heart disease.
Depression is more strongly related to heart disease than smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This makes heart disease one of the most prominent effects of depression on the body.
A depressed person is more likely to die after a heart attack than a person with no depression. According to Cleveland Clinic 15% of people with heart disease develop major depression. So the relationship between depression and heart disease is complex and interlinked.
The Next Step
If you notice any symptoms of depression in yourself on someone close to you, your very next step should be to book an appointment with a psychiatrist. It is better to get your depression under control before any effects of depression appear.
Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with top psychologists in Pakistan through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online appointment booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
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