15 Physical Symptoms of Depression You Need to Know

15 Physical Symptoms of Depression You Need to Know

Depression impacts both your mind and body. It's hard to fall or stay asleep when you're sad.1 On the flip side, some depressed folks oversleep. Heart disease risk goes up with depression, and those with such illnesses might feel blue too. Feeling exhausted all the time--even after lots of sleep--could signal depression.1 Fatigue and depression make each other worse.

Living with constant pain? It might lead to depression.2 Likewise, depression can make you feel pain more. They share brain signals. Depression increases the chance of having ongoing pain by threefold.2 There's a brain-gut connection, so stress can equal tummy issues. Depression can cause gut trouble too, like nausea or constipation.

A link exists between major depression, migraines, and depression.2 Eating habits can change with depression, leading to weight shifts and low energy. Depression ties into eating disorders like bulimia. When neck or back pain is constant, it might lead to depression.1 Being depressed raises the risk of severe neck or back pain by four times. 

15 Physical Symptoms of Depression You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

  • Depression can manifest through a range of physical symptoms, including sleep disturbances, fatigue, pain, digestive issues, and appetite changes.
  • The connection between mental and physical health in depression is complex, with shared neurochemical and physiological processes contributing to both emotional and somatic symptoms.
  • Recognizing the physical signs of depression is crucial for seeking appropriate treatment and managing the condition effectively.
  • Men are more likely than women to experience irritability and anger as symptoms of depression.
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment can be a sign of underlying depression.

Persistent Sadness or Emotional Pain

Depression often leads to mood changes. People with depression may feel very sad for long times.3 They might say they feel "empty" and can't find joy. Some describe it as deep sadness or despair. Depression causes a sense of hopelessness since the sadness seems never-ending.3 A person might feel impossible to help, believing they'll always be depressed.3

Feeling Hopeless or Helpless

Those with depression might feel they're not worth anything.3 They could think they make life harder for others. They might feel the world would be better without them. If this adds to thinking about suicide, getting emergency help is crucial.3

Feeling Worthless or Guilty

Feeling guilty after a mistake is common. But for those with depression, guilt can be constant and unjustified.3 They might dwell on these feelings and regret past actions excessively, including those no longer crucial.

Loss of Interest or Pleasure in Activities

Some people with depression lose interest in things they once loved. This can be sports, hobbies, hanging out with friends, or music. They might avoid activities or friends, feeling like they don't enjoy things anymore. This is called anhedonia.3

Feeling less motivated and being less social are signs of depression. Removing themselves from activities can make their life worse.3

Not finding joy in once-beloved hobbies might be the first sign of a problem.3 The joylessness, combined with anhedonia, suggests depression could be starting.3

It's key to notice and handle this loss of interest in activities to treat depression.3 By finding and fixing these issues, people can start enjoying life again.3

Irritability and Anger Outbursts

People with depression might seem angry or irritated. This often happens with little reason.3 Males with depression tend to show more irritability and anger than females.1 This anger can also show in females.1 Young people often show their depression by being angry or throwing tantrums.1 Trouble sleeping and feeling tired can make anyone more irritable.

IrritabilityMen with depression are more likely than women to experience irritability and anger.1
Anger OutburstsChildren and adolescents are more prone to displaying depression symptoms through anger, irritability, and tantrums.1
Emotional LabilityIndividuals with depression may have persistent negative thoughts, making it difficult for them to control their worries.1
Mood SwingsOther depression symptoms can indirectly cause irritability, such as not sleeping well and feeling tired.3
Temper OutburstsChildren and adolescents are more likely to display depression through anger, irritability, and tantrums.1
Interpersonal DifficultiesA person with depression may seem to be angry with others and become easily annoyed and irritated.3

Fatigue and Lack of Energy

People with depression might struggle to get out of bed in the morning. They feel exhausted and unmotivated.4 Simple tasks become hard, like going to work or making food. They often stay home to rest or sleep a lot.

Feeling always tired is a common issue with depression. Even if they sleep a lot, they still feel drained.1 Sleep problems only add to this fatigue, making everything seem harder.1

Feeling Tired Despite Adequate Rest

Depression makes daily activities tough to manage. Simple tasks feel overwhelming because of low energy and a lack of drive.4

Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks

Low energy from depression turns daily tasks into challenges.4 This struggle affects their quality of life and well-being.

Sleep Disturbances

Feeling down can affect how well we sleep. Studies show trouble sleeping can lead to depression.4 This means if someone is dealing with depression, they might not sleep well. They might find it hard to fall or stay asleep. Or, they could sleep too much and still feel tired.

This isn't uncommon. Many who are sad find it hard to stick to a regular sleep schedule. This can lead to trouble sleeping or wanting to sleep all the time.

Insomnia or Inability to Sleep Well

Falling asleep and staying asleep is a struggle for those with depression. They might not get the full rest they need. This can make everything feel harder to face.

Oversleeping or Hypersomnia

Some folks sleep a lot when they're feeling blue. They might find they need much more sleep than before. Even then, waking up doesn't make them feel refreshed. It's like they're stuck in a tired loop.

But why does this happen? The body's internal clock, called the circadian rhythm, gets messed up. This means some people don't sleep enough, while others sleep more than usual.

Cognitive Issues

Depression can affect how well someone thinks. They might have a hard time staying focused. This can be at home or at work.3 They might also struggle with making choices, big or small. Remembering things can also become tough. They may miss appointments or forget what they've said.3 These issues can really disrupt their daily life.

Difficulty Concentrating or Making Decisions

Depression makes it hard to concentrate and decide things, too.3 It can be tough for them to focus, understand things, and make choices, even simple ones. This problem affects both their personal and work life a lot.

Memory Problems

Depression can mess with memory as well.3 They might forget meetings, tasks, or even recent things they've done or heard. Forgetting things and not being able to keep up can make them even sadder.

Cognitive issues from depression include finding it hard to concentrate, make choices, and remember things.35 These issues really get in the way of a good life. It's key to spot and deal with these problems to help manage depression and improve overall mental health.

Appetite and Weight Changes

Depression often leads people to lose their desire for food. This can result in weight loss.4 They might not feel like eating and skip meals. On the flipside, some may find comfort in food, using it to cope with negative emotions.2 They might eat more and engage in unhealthy eating habits.

Feeling down can also affect motivation to be active. This lack of exercise, paired with overeating, can lead to gaining weight.2 Beyond the physical aspect, research hints at a deeper connection between high body fat and depression.2 Inadequate nutrition worsens mood in these cases.

Lack of Appetite and Weight Loss

Depression can reduce the desire to eat, resulting in weight loss. People may lose interest in meals and not eat for long stretches.

Overeating and Weight Gain

Yet, depression can also cause overeating in some people.2 Food serves as a coping mechanism for stress or loneliness.2 This can contribute to weight gain when coupled with a lack of physical activity.2

People with major depression are three times more likely to have migraines2
People with migraines are five times more likely to get depressed2
People who are depressed are three times as likely to experience regular pain2
Men are more likely than women to be irritable when depressed2
People who are depressed may be four times more likely to experience intense, disabling neck or back pain2
Depression is linked to eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating2
Depression can lead to weight changes such as weight gain or loss2

Physical Pain and Aches

When someone is depressed, they might feel pain in places like their joints, limbs, or back.2 This pain can be all over the body and really tough to handle. It's possible that both depression and chronic pain come from the same issue. This might be a difficulty in how the brain uses certain chemicals, like serotonin.2 Studies show that pain feels worse for those with depression. They might have a lower tolerance for pain.2 Moreover, depression can lead to particular pains, like lower back pain. People with depression have a higher chance of getting serious back pain than others.6

Headaches or Migraines

Depression can also make headaches and migraines more common.2 People with major depression likely face migraines three times more often. And if you get migraines, you're five times more likely to have depression.2

Back Pain or Body Aches

Along with headaches, depression can cause general body aches.6 Those with depression may have big issues with neck or back pain. They are about four times more likely to struggle with severe neck or back pain.2

Digestive Problems

If someone is feeling down, they might also face tummy troubles like feeling nauseous or bloated.4 It's thought that serotonin might be the key. This brain chemical doesn't just affect our mood but also our stomach's work.4 Interestingly, our gut actually makes most of our serotonin. This has scientists really excited. They believe the link between our gut and our feelings could teach us a lot about our health.4 And it's not just serotonin. There's a crowd of tiny organisms in our guts affecting everything from how we feel to staying healthy. This matters a lot when we talk about depression.

Nausea or Indigestion

Folks with depression sometimes feel sick to their stomach or have indigestion a lot.4 The way our gut and brain talk to each other can make stomach problems worse. This might make the sad feelings even harder to deal with.

Constipation or Diarrhea

Depressed people might also battle with constipation or diarrhea.4 Changes in serotonin and other messengers lead to these toilet troubles. It piles on top of the other difficulties depression brings.

15 Physical Symptoms You Should Know when you are depressed

Depression hits both your mind and body in many ways. The physical symptoms of depression involve sleeping troubles, feeling tired, appetite changes, and either gaining or losing weight. Pain, stomach trouble, and a weaker immune system can also show up. Plus, high blood pressure and changes in how you move or feel things can happen too. Another common issue is sexual problems.4

A study looked at 1146 people from 14 countries with depression. An amazing 69% said they visited their doctor because of only physical issues, not mental ones.4 Knowing about these 15 physical signs is vital. They can help you spot depression early and get the right help. The link between mind and body with depression is deep. Both sides share some of the same chemical and physical changes.

If someone has almost no physical symptoms, their risk of a mood disorder is very low, just 2%.4 But, if they have 9 or more physical signs, the risk jumps up to 60%. Those with long-lasting physical pain often have depression for longer, about 19 months.4 Among those who have physical signs of depression, a third of those who think about suicide also have a lot of pain.4 Chronic pain might be a red flag for suicidal thoughts and actions in depressed patients.

Medications that target both norepinephrine and serotonin work best at lessening these physical symptoms.4 A patient with major depression might see their depression return if some signs are left after treatment. Their risk is 3 times higher.4 Those whose signs don't completely go away are also at 3 times more at risk.4 It's crucial not to overlook these physical signs. Antidepressants that work on both chemicals, like venlafaxine and duloxetine, lead to more recoveries.4

Sleep problems are common with depression. Some people have a hard time sleeping, others sleep too much.2 Depression also makes heart disease more likely. Those who survived heart attacks have higher chances of being depressed.2 Feeling endlessly tired, even after rest, is a big sign of depression.2 Pain that lingers increases someone’s risk for depression. A depressed person is 3 times more likely to suffer from regular pain.2

Major depression makes migraine risks 3 times higher. Sufferers of migraines are then 5 times more likely to be dealing with depression.2 Depression changes appetite, leading to eating either too much or too little. This shift can cause weight changes.2 Eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating can be tied to depression.2 Neck or back pain that feels impossible to manage could be 4 times more likely for a depressed person.2

Depression affects women more than men.3 Men might not admit to feeling bad, talk about it, or look for help as much.3 Depression rates are higher in the LGBTQI+ community. They face a bigger risk of getting depression too.3 Sometimes, depression happens along with other mental disorders or health issues.3

Weakened Immune System

Stress weakens our immune system, making us more likely to get sick.6 If we do catch something, it might take longer to recover. Infections like the cold are usually mild.7 But, if our immunity is low, these can cause more severe problems. This is why keeping our stress levels down is essential.

Scientists are still looking into how stress and our immune system are connected. Some think that stress can lead to changes in brain chemicals. These changes might affect our mood.8

60% of people with depression are more likely to have back pain than those who aren't depressed.6
People with major depression were found to have a lower pain threshold and tolerance than those not diagnosed with depression, according to a 2015 study.6
Chronic pain contributes to depression, which may stem from the same causes as emotional pain.6
Researchers are exploring the link between chronic inflammation and other physical symptoms of depression.6
Stress can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.6
Chronic stress has been associated with high blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.6
Depression is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.6
Weight fluctuations are common in depression, with some individuals reporting weight gain while others experience weight loss.6
Changes in appetite and weight can be side effects of antidepressant medications.6
Psycho motor symptoms that may be experienced include feeling sluggish, restless, fidgety, or agitated, depending on the individual's response to depression.6
About two out of three people with depression experience increased aches and pains.7
Nearly half of everybody with depression encounters problems with sex drive.7
Researchers have found that sleep troubles, fatigue, and worries about health are reliable indicators of depression in older adults.7
Depression increases the risk of certain diseases and conditions by raising levels of stress hormones like cortisol or adrenaline.7
Depression can weaken the immune system, making it more challenging for the body to fight infections.7
Depression has been linked to heart disease and increased risk for substance abuse.7
Chronic pain tends to lead to worse depression outcomes.7
Depression may make it more difficult to adhere to treatment regimens, including following instructions and taking medications.7
Increased plasma concentrations of IL-6, sIL-6R, sIL-2R, and transferring receptor in major depression.8
Depression is associated with increased levels of C-reactive protein and major cardiac events in men after acute coronary syndromes.8
Activation of CNS inflammatory pathways by interferon-alpha is related to monoamines and depression.8
Experiencing hostile marital interactions leads to proinflammatory cytokine production in the body, impacting wound healing.8
Increased stress-induced inflammatory response observed in male patients with major depression who also had early-life stress.8
Psychosocial and behavioral predictors are linked to inflammation in middle-aged and older adults, impacting health.8
Neuropeptides, cytokines, and neurotransmitter processes are associated with depressive disorders and comorbidity in neurodegenerative disorders.8
Chronically elevated levels of IL-4 inhibit IDO expression in human monocytes.8

Psychomotor Changes

The term "psychomotor" relates to how we think and move differently due to feelings like our thoughts are slow or our actions are heavy. Some folks with depression feel this way.4 On the other hand, some feel the opposite, always needing to move or finding it hard to stay still. They might be filled with anxiety or disturbing thoughts, mentally.

Agitation or Restlessness

Getting older can lead to more frequent psychomotor symptoms, to some extent.4 Yet, it's not just a normal part of aging.4 Doctors and mental health pros should consider that these changes might signal depression. It's vital to look for this, especially in older adults.

Slowed Movements or Speech

Description: Feeling like your thoughts are moving slow or your body is heavy is common for some with depression.4 These feelings can make daily tasks hard to do.

High Blood Pressure

Feeling down can lead to a lot of stress. This stress can go on for a long time and raise your blood pressure.9 Not just that, being always worried can also hurt your heart as much as high cholesterol or blood pressure.9

Stress that sticks around can make your blood pressure climb. High blood pressure makes heart problems more likely. These issues can lead to heart attacks and strokes.9 More and more experts see how depression can really up your chances of heart trouble.

Sexual Dysfunction

Depression can make sex less appealing.2 Certain depression meds might lower your desire and ability.2 It's vital to discuss this with your doctor.

Reduced Libido

Regular sexual activity boosts feel-good chemicals in your brain. This makes you happier and less sensitive to pain.2 While it won’t beat depression by itself, it can be a step in the right direction.2

When feeling low, finding the energy to move can be tough. But, exercise helps fight off tiredness and improves sleep.2

Performance Issues

Depression often reduces interest in sex.2 Certain meds might also lower your libido and impact performance.2 A chat with your doctor can shed light on better medication options.

Medication Side Effects

Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) meds have side effects.4 These effects usually ease up as the body gets used to the drug. However, some effects can be strong and last long. Medicines for depression, for instance, might cause physical side effects like changes in appetiteweight changes, and blurred vision. They could also lead to focus issues, dizziness, dry mouth, and more.4 These effects might make a person stop taking their meds.4 This is important for those treating depression, as the side effects can stop the treatment.

Nausea or Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting might occur with antidepressants. These stomach problems could make someone not want to take their meds. It might also lessen the medicines' effects on fighting depression.

Weight Fluctuations

Antidepressants could change your appetite and metabolism. This might lead to weight changes, causing more stress.

Dry Mouth or Blurred Vision

Some antidepressants can make your mouth dry or your vision blurry. These side effects could be quite irritating. They might even get in the way of your daily life.

Dealing with the physical side effects of depression meds is really important. This helps people stay on their treatment and get the best results. It’s crucial for patients to talk with their doctors. Together, they can find the right balance of a medicine's benefits and its possible side effects.


Depression is tricky as it doesn't just mess with our feelings. It can directly affect our bodies in many ways. We talked about 15 kinds of physical issues caused by depression. These include problems with sleep, feeling tired all the time, body aches, stomach troubles, thinking issues, and even trouble with sex.4 Understanding these body signs is key to getting the right help.

So, if you feel not just sad but also have health issues, talk to a doctor. They can help join the dots between your mental and physical health. This is the first step towards a plan that will truly work. Focusing on both mind and body helps in the healing journey.

It's vital not to ignore the physical changes linked to depression. They can be clues telling you to get help. By spreading the word about these signs, more people might realize they need professional care. This can make a huge positive difference in their lives.


What are some persistent physical symptoms of depression?

Feeling tired, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite are common. People with depression often have physical pain and digestive issues. They can also face weakened immunity and high blood pressure.

Changes in weight and sexual dysfunction might also occur.

How can depression affect a person's mood and emotions?

Depression causes persistent sadness and emotional pain. It leads to feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. People often feel worthless or guilty, and lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

What are some cognitive issues associated with depression?

Depression makes it hard to concentrate, make decisions, and remember things. It can also affect attention and executive function.

How can depression impact a person's appetite and weight?

Depression might cause a decreased or increased appetite. This can result in weight loss or weight gain. Eating disorders could also develop.

What types of physical pain are linked to depression?

Headaches, migraines, and back pain are common among depressed individuals. They might also experience unexplained body aches. The link between physical pain and depression is complex.

How can depression affect a person's digestive system?

Stomach problems like nausea and indigestion can be seen in depressed people. They might also have constipation or diarrhea. A possible explanation is the intimate connection between the gut and the brain.

Can depression weaken the immune system?

Depression is linked to a weaker immune system. The stress from depression can make someone more likely to get sick.

What types of psychomotor changes can occur with depression?

Depression might show as restlessness or slowed movements and speech. These symptoms could also increase with age.

Is there a link between depression and high blood pressure?

Chronic stress from depression is linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure. This can increase the risk of heart disease.

How can depression affect a person's sex life?

Depression can reduce sex drive and cause performance issues. Certain antidepressants might worsen sexual function.

What are some common side effects of medications used to treat depression?

Antidepressants can lead to nausea, vomiting, and changes in weight. Dry mouth and blurred vision are also possible. These side effects could impact how well someone sticks to their treatment plan.

Source Links

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326769
  2. https://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-physical-symptoms-depression
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
  6. https://www.verywellmind.com/physical-effects-of-depression-1066890
  7. https://www.webmd.com/depression/how-depression-affects-your-body
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002174/
  9. https://www.webmd.com/depression/conditions-related-depression