5 Ways Depression Hurts Your Health
When you are depressed, you know there are mental health repercussions. However, did you know that depression can also bring on a number of other illnesses? Below is a list of some of the most common ones. Discover how they may start and what you can do about them.
1. Getting Sick
Chronic depression can lower your immunity. This often means that you can get sick more often, with a higher incidence of colds or infections. On the other hand, you may try to be proactive about taking actions that will boost your health. Exercise is key to a healthy immune system, so try to make time to get your body moving for at least 30 minutes at a time, three times a week.
Depression can increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These hormones can increase your blood pressure and heart rate. Higher cortisol levels make arteries more vulnerable to plaque build-up, which clogs the body’s arteries. When the arteries are clogged with fatty plaque deposits, they block blood from flowing freely. Stress is sometimes a major factor that leads to heart attacks and strokes.
3. Diet Sabotage
Depression and bad eating habits go hand in hand. Depending on how much or little you usually eat, when you are depressed, you tend to take that habit to the extreme.
If you are a light eater, you begin to eat even lighter, and your body starts to go into starvation mode. In order to conserve resources, it will begin to shut down. Try eating something small, but healthy, so you can get some nutrients into your body while not forcing yourself to eat. Vegetables are a good choice. They are crunchy and can add some satisfaction to the eating experience in general.
Others go in the complete opposite direction. There is a reason that some food is called comfort food, and it is usually not the healthiest food choice you can make. When someone is depressed, eating can be soothing, or it may even serve as a coping mechanism. Eating becomes a new friend when you feel like you’ve been abandoned by the world. Think twice before you grab that piece of fried chicken or mix yourself up a box of mac and cheese.
4. Sleep Issues
Depression often makes people want to sleep all the time. They may long to have the covers over their head and be hidden from the world. However, sleeping too often leads to the neglect of other essential hygienic tasks, such as showering or brushing their teeth. At other times, a depressed person will have insomnia and end up sleeping too little. Getting too much or too little sleep affects a person’s help in many ways, and that makes it hard to get back into a regular, healthy sleep pattern.
If you are sleeping too much, try to set certain times when you don’t allow yourself to sleep. Get up for lunch and eat something healthy at the kitchen table. Get dressed. Sometimes just that small act will make you feel well enough to stay awake. Plus, it’s less likely you’ll curl up for a long winter’s nap with your shoes on. Try to get outdoors during the day and move around a little. Even 5 to 10 minutes of movement at a time may be enough to keep you from jumping headlong back into bed.
If you are sleeping too little, moving around a bit every day can help as well. Even expending a small amount of energy every day can help you feel sleepier at night. Also, developing a nighttime ritual can help you associate doing certain things with getting ready to sleep, and that can actually help you fall asleep faster. Brush your teeth and wash your face. Read a chapter of a book in bed. Maybe get a white noise machine so that you won’t hear every bump in the night.
Depression can make headaches feels worse. In fact, studies have shown that depression can make most pain feel worse than it does for people in a better state of mind. When you are depressed, you are already suffering and perceiving the world in a negative way. Since you are also doing less than you normally do, you have fewer activities to distract you from the pain that you have. This may be a symptom that takes a doctor’s help to remedy. Psychotherapy can help treat your depression and help lessen your pain.