Health Matters | The Physical Symptoms of Depression

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The Physical Symptoms of Depression

Depression effects both men and women and is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide. Depression is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest, and sometimes irritability. According to the CDC, more than 1 out of 20 Americans over the age of 12 have reported having symptoms of depression. Depression is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Symptoms of depression may include:
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Change in weight or appetite
  • Change in activity
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble making decisions or concentrating

While depression is categorized as a mood disorder, it may also lead to physical symptoms. Depression may present itself physically through:
  • Migraines
  • Joint Pain
  • Digestive problems
  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Insomnia

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may have depression, visit your local health care provider. Treatment for depression may include medications or therapy. Below are 10 tips you can also try to help boost your mood when you are feeling down:

Pull back the curtains and get some sunshine when you wake up. A University of Toronto study found that people who are exposed to the most light, especially in the morning, are in better moods all day long and get a better night’s sleep. Don’t let a cloudy day stand in the way. Researchers also found that an hour of bright indoor light can boost your outlook on life.

Get out of that chair and get moving. Countless studies show that exercise helps our brain release endorphins, which make us feel excited and satisfied. Any fitness activity is good for your mood, but you can enhance those benefits by taking it outside. An outdoor 20-minute walk twice a week can do wonders for your mood. Researchers also found that people who exercise outdoors feel more energetic and are more likely to maintain the routine. In other words, the more you exercise, the better your mood.

Once you do head back to work, take a few minutes to get organized. Clear the clutter from your desk or work area. That mess can make you lose focus, feel overwhelmed and disorganized, and slow your productivity. An organized environment helps you concentrate on the work at hand.

Listening to music can help improve your mood, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress. The right music can change attitudes, so load your MP3 player with songs that make you happy. And don’t be afraid to sing along. One study found that singing may actually improve immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness. Remember that the next time you belt out a few tunes in the shower.

New experiences do more than broaden your horizons. They improve your outlook on life. Whether it’s travel to a different part of the world, a dance class, or a new food, new experiences give you confidence to try new things.

Set a small goal for yourself every day. Too many complex tasks seem to drag on forever. Everyone needs some closure at the end of the day so they don’t feel like they are running in an endless circle.

Take a few seconds to look at some of your favorite pictures. They can be anything from baby pictures to favorite vacation photos. Great memories will help boost your mood whenever you are feeling down. Save some of these pictures on your phone or computer for a quick pick-me-up.

A good deed goes a long way in improving your mood. Research has found that volunteering makes people happier because it helps them appreciate the good things in their own lives. Whether it is donating money, joining a charity walk, or volunteering at a community food bank, helping others helps you feel good about yourself.

Take a break from all of your electronic toys and tools. Log off from everything once in a while. Staring at computer, tablet or smart phone screens can drain your energy even as you sit around all day. Let your mind unwind and relax, especially before going to bed.

Finally, find something that makes you happy and allow yourself time to enjoy the break. It doesn’t have to be long. Less than a half hour with a friend, reading a book, or watching a guilty-pleasure television show may be all that it takes. If it brings you joy and gives you something to look forward to every day, it makes life a lot easier.

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