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Effect of Mental Depression on the Body

Margit Cathrine Moller

“I am so depressed.” This is the usual line of people who are going through difficult times. But most of them are really just feeling depressed; they don’t really have the mental disorder called Depression – one of those most common mental illnesses in the world today.

Our daily life challenges could create stresses and pressures which are not within our control. If we are not careful and conscious, these worries build up to depression. And if depression cannot be properly addressed this would result to much greater problems - physical symptoms.

Depressed people could have physical pains with no apparent cause. They also suffer from chronic fatigue and they have greater risks to somatic illnesses. Depression differs from one person to another. Depressed men are likely to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleeping problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. Women have higher rates of depression compared to men partly due to hormonal factors. Women experience visible feeling of guilt, sleep excessively, overeat, and gain weight. The common symptoms of depression in teens are irritability and unexplained aches and pains but these are very much treatable with proper guidance and counseling. Older adults suffer depression because of the challenges they experience like grief, bereavement, loss of independence and health problems.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) prolonged stressed and depression can result to stress hyperglycemia - this increases the rates of neuropathy, kidney disease, hypertension and poor wound healing. Depression also weakens our immune system, particularly the natural killer T-cells which help protect the body from cancer causing agents. The American College of Cardiology (2005) reported that the release of stress hormones causes vasoconstriction and increased heart rates, these leads to cardiovascular complications such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.

Unlike any medical illnesses that have specific cure, treating depression is more complicated. As it varies from one person to another, there is no appropriate treatment that can be applied in all cases. It is important to understand what really causes your depression to be able to address it properly.