Can Depression Make You Sick?

October 24, 2023

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Can depression make you sick” is a question commonly asked due to the prevalence of major depressive disorders. According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), the condition impacted over 21 million U.S. adults in 2021.

This mood disorder manifests through various emotional symptoms, such as enduring feelings of sadness and a diminished interest in previously favored activities. Beyond this, depression can also give rise to physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and bodily discomfort.

This guide highlights the following issues:

  • Can depression make you feel sick?
  • Can depression make you feel nauseous?
  • Can being depressed make you physically sick?
  • Depression sick? How to connect with treatment in California.

What is Depression Sickness?

Depression often manifests physical symptoms that make individuals feel physically unwell. Can depression make you physically sick, then?

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  • Digestive problems: For anyone wondering, “Can depression cause diarrhea”, some people with mood disorders may experience digestive issues that include upset stomach and diarrhea.
  • Fatigue or low energy: Fatigue is a common symptom of depression, affecting a significant number of people with major depressive disorder.
  • Pain: Unexplained aches and pains, including headaches, back pain, joint pain, and muscle pain, are commonly reported by individuals with depression.
  • Sleep difficulties: Depression often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to either excessive sleepiness or insomnia, which can contribute to physical discomfort.
  • Chest pain: While chest pain can be a sign of serious heart or other medical problems, depression can add to the discomfort in some cases.
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How Can Depression Make You Feel Sick?

Depression can manifest in various physical symptoms that can make individuals feel physically unwell. Individuals who are prescribed antidepressants often have questions such as, “Can depression make you physically ill” or “Can depression cause nausea”. Here are some of the physical symptoms associated with depression and why they occur:

Weakened immunity

Depression impacts the immune system by interfering with the production of cytokines and other immune substances during sleep. Sleep deprivation, often associated with depression, disrupts this process, increasing susceptibility to infections and illnesses. Additionally, depression and stress are linked to inflammation, potentially contributing to various diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Digestive issues

Depression, anxiety, and stress can affect the movement and contractions of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, triggering symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and depression nausea. As well as the link between depression and nausea, emotional factors may also impact stomach acid production, increasing the risk of ulcers. Depression has been linked to conditions like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Sleep disturbances

Sleep problems are common in those with depression, including difficulty falling or staying asleep and non-restorative sleep. Depression can cause or exacerbate insomnia, which, in turn, can increase the risk of depression. Sleep deprivation worsens other depressive symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, headaches, and it also weakens the immune system.

Cardiovascular effects

Stress and depression impact the heart and blood pressure, potentially leading to irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and arterial damage. Unmanaged stress and depression can worsen these conditions. 

Weight changes

Depression can influence eating habits and mood, leading to either weight loss due to reduced appetite or weight gain triggered by poor dietary choices. Increased appetite and weight gain can also result from certain medications used to treat depression. Obesity is more prevalent among adults with depression.


A significant percentage of people with depression experience headaches. Depression and related symptoms like stress and anxiety can cause tension headaches. Additionally, depression appears to increase the risk of recurrent, more severe headaches, which may be exacerbated by poor sleep.

Muscle and joint pain

Depression can alter pain perception, contributing to back pain and other joint and muscle discomfort. Fatigue and loss of interest, common in depression, can lead to reduced physical activity, causing muscle and joint pain and stiffness.

These physical symptoms emphasize the intricate connection between mental and physical health and highligh the importance of addressing both aspects when managing depression. How you can get help, then?

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a treatable mental health condition, and several effective treatments are available. The choice of treatment depends on individual symptoms, the severity of major depressive disorder, and personal preferences. 

Psychotherapy involves talking to a trained therapist or counselor who helps individuals explore and manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), IPT (interpersonal therapy), and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) may be indicated for the treatment of depression.

Antidepressants are prescription medications that can help alleviate depression symptoms. Common antidepressants include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). The choice of medication is determined by a healthcare provider based on individual needs.

In cases where psychotherapy and medication do not provide sufficient relief, neuromodulation therapies may be considered. These include ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), and VNS (vagus nerve stimulation). These therapies aim to modulate brain activity and may be used when other treatments have proved ineffective.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can complement other treatments. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques can improve mood and overall well-being.

In severe cases of depression, where there is a risk of harm to self or others, hospitalization or partial hospitalization programs may be necessary. These programs provide intensive care and support until the individual’s condition stabilizes.

Joining support groups or seeking social support from friends and family can be beneficial in managing depression. Sharing experiences and coping strategies with others who understand can reduce feelings of isolation.

If you are experiencing depression, consult with a mental health professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Treatment may involve a combination of therapies tailored to address specific symptoms and needs. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to recover from depression and recalibrate your life.

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Get Effective Treatment for Depression at Connections

If you are looking for a depression treatment center in Orange County, Connections is here to help.

If you or a loved one have been grappling with a mood disorder like depression, you can find peace and stability at our luxury beachside treatment facility. Our team of passionate mental health specialists blend evidence-based and holistic interventions to help you achieve whole-body healing.

Call 844-413-0009 today for more information on how you can address major depressive disorder in Southern California.

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