The Physical Symptoms of Depression

Depression is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a kind of “Mood Disorder” which involves the lowering of a person’s mood. Most of us are familiar with the emotional impact of depression, such as feelings of persistent sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. There are also physical symptoms of depression that are important to identify.

The Link Between Mental and Physical Symptoms of Depression

The neurotransmitters in the brain, chemical messengers that relay messages to our neurons, have a large impact on both pain and mood. The ones that directly impact pain and mood are serotonin and norepinephrine. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), when they are not regulated, both depressive symptoms and physical pain begin to manifest in the body. Therefore, certain physical symptoms may be a sign you need to seek treatment for a mental health condition such as depression.

Physical Symptoms of Depression

According to the NCBI, patients who have multiple physical symptoms are more likely to have a mood disorder than those who only have a few physical symptoms. Below are some common physical symptoms of depression.

Chest Pain

Chest pain is an indicator of a serious medical condition and should always be evaluated immediately. If a medical condition is ruled out, chest pain may be a sign of underlying stress, which is often a contributing factor in depression.


The term “headaches” is a very general complaint that can be brought about by many different factors. Headaches may also signal depression. Patients who regularly experience migraines sometimes report that they occur with greater regularity or are more intense when stress and mood are not well regulated.  Many find success when treatment of headaches involves both medicine and therapy utilized together.

Muscle and Joint Aches and Pains

Chronic pain impacts a person’s outlook on life and subsequent mood. Consider talking to a therapist along with help from a physician to manage your pain.

Sleeping Difficulties

Irregularities in sleeping patterns are a hallmark sign of depression.  Whether a person is dealing with insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping or sleepiness), speaking to a therapist when experiencing sleep issues might help you find the source of the problem.

Digestive Issues

These can range from nausea to indigestion and/or diarrhea. The brain and the digestive system are closely linked, which can explain why these might be physical symptoms of depression.

Contact Dr. Arian Elfant

If you or a loved one is concerned about the link between your physical symptoms and possible depression, Dr. Elfant can help. Dr. Arian Elfant is a Uptown New Orleans-based therapist who specializes in treating depression. Contact her with all your questions online or call her at (504) 319 - 6800.