The majority of us know the common symptoms of depression, such as irritability, fatigue, and that sadness that you just cannot seem to shake. However, what about muscle aches, an upset stomach, or waking up before dawn? Surprisingly, these are some early and subtle warning signs of depression.
Below you can find 7 lesser-known symptoms of depression to look out for.
1. Aches and Pains
If you have a nagging pain that you cannot explain, depression could be the cause. Backaches, muscle aches, and chronic pain flare-ups can all be sneaky symptoms of depression. Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami states that "Pain is modulated by mood, and vice versa. Someone who is happy may not feel pain to the extent that someone with depression does."
2. Weight Loss or Gain
Depression has an effect on the hormones that regulate appetite, which means that you could see an increase or decrease in weight. Keith Humphreys, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care declares that "hormones commonly disrupted by depression tell us when we are hungry and when we have had enough to eat. As a result, many people with depression eat too much or too little." Sleep issues as a result of depression can exacerbate the problem, since a lack of sleep can also mess with these hunger and fullness hormones.
3. Trouble Staying Asleep
People with depression often experience fatigue and a lack of energy, yet they still might find it difficult to get a full night's rest. "One of the classic symptoms of depression involves 'terminal insomnia' - waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep. This can be very frustrating for patients, as sleep is sometimes the only refuge from debilitating depression," says Bhatia. Since lack of sleep can have a negative effect on your mood and your ability to concentrate - it can start off a very vicious circle.
4. Skin Issues
If you break out with skin issues when you're stressed, you should already be aware of the fact that stress hormones can wreak havoc with your skin. When you're depressed, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol, which explains why stress worsens conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
5. Stomach Issues
Stomach issues such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and nausea have all been linked to depression - the symptoms might be even worse for those who suffer from anxiety disorders. Bhatia states that "the gut is exquisitely responsive to our mood states. In fact, there is a great overlap between depression and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome."
Depression can even have an effect on your oral health. "Depression often robs people of the ability to engage in self-care - for example, eating properly, managing chronic conditions, and taking care of daily hygiene including brushing and flossing teeth."
Migraines, much like chronic pain, are also linked with depression. Bhatia declares that "not only can depression lead to headaches, but depression is also frequently seen in patients with migraine headaches." Headaches, can occasionally be a sign of a serious medical condition, so it's important not to automatically put it down to depression, especially if the symptom is new to you. Changes in vision, numbness, or a stiff neck should be checked out by your doctor straight away.