How does depression affect the body?

The effects of depression may extend beyond a person’s emotions and mental health. Depression can also affect a person’s physical health.

In this article, learn about these physical effects of depression, including chronic pain, weight changes, and increased inflammation.

What is depression?

effects of depression

Depression often causes a person to feel sad and hopeless.

Depression is a complex mental health condition that causes a person to have low mood and may leave them feeling persistently sad or hopeless.

Depressive symptoms can be a temporary experience in response to grief or trauma. But when the symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, it can be a sign of a serious depressive disorder.

The same symptoms can also be a sign of another mental health condition, such as bipolar or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists the following symptoms of depression:

  • depressed mood on most days, including feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • too little or too much sleep most days
  • unintended weight loss or gain or changes in appetite
  • physical agitation or feelings of sluggishness
  • low energy or fatigue
  • feeling worthless or guilty
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • intrusive thoughts of death or suicide

The symptoms vary between individuals and may change over time. For a doctor to diagnose depression, a person must have five or more symptoms that must be present during the same 2-week period.

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