National Hypnotherapy Society | Mind Body Links: Physical Symptoms Of…

The physical symptoms that may be a part of low mood and depression illustrate the link between our minds and bodies:

Aches and Pains

Depression can cause aches and pains all over the body. It can seem like there is no reason for them. But depression and pain share nerve pathways in the spinal cord - and also share chemicals in the brain. This could explain why there is often a link between the two.


Cortisol, a stress hormone, can increase when a person is unwell - pushing bodies into ‘fight or flight’ mode. When this happens, blood directs away from the digestive organs, because they’re not involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response. Over an extended period of time, this can cause digestive issues. Appetite can also change this can be due to the illness itself, and or medication side effects.

It’s important to try and keep eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.

Sleep can make a big difference, too, because it gives bodies time to rest and recover.

Heart Health

Depression is a risk factor for heart disease. There is still research being done around exactly why there is a link - but stress and hormone changes are likely to be involved. Avoid smoking, or drinking too much, and eat a balanced diet and exercise as much as possible.

Immune System

Depression can weaken all aspects of the immune system and make a person more prone to picking up bugs. Social isolation and feelings of loneliness (both of which can come with depression) also weaken the immune system.

Moving and speaking slowly

Depression may make a person feel very tired and everything can feel heavy and thick. It can feel like the brain has slowed down and it can be hard to process information. This can cause people to move and speak more slowly than usual.

Muscle Tiredness

Depression can cause tiredness all over. It drains energy out of the body, including the muscles. It can affect diet, which can also contribute to the health of muscles. Additionally, the exhaustion that comes with depression can make a person move less - and when we don’t use our muscles, they deteriorate. This can make it harder to exercise or walk long distances without the muscles complaining.

Exercise isn’t always possible when depressed - a person may well feel exhausted, and exertion can further increase cortisol levels.

Gentle exercise like yoga or short walks can help keep muscles in shape.

Weight Changes

Depression can affect appetite. It can decrease the appetite, causing weight loss. It can also increase the appetite - or the drive to eat for comfort - and cause weight gain. Tiredness and mood may reduce the motivation to cook: reaching for quick snacks or pre-prepared food.

Other physical symptoms

Depression may impact other parts of the body - including blood glucose levels, bone density, menstrual cycle, sex drive, and sleep.

Additionally, any medication prescribed for depression can also have physical side effects.

If troubled by physical symptoms, it’s worth consulting a GP. They can offer peace of mind by checking there’s nothing else going on. They can also offer advice on managing the pain and discomfort that may come with the symptoms.

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