Depression in Your Body
Living with clinical depression is mentally challenging, but it also comes with a host of physical challenges.
Let’s more closely examine how depression may be affecting your body. Can you relate to any of these physical symptoms of depression, as listed in the DSM-5?
- Sleeping too little (insomnia) or sleeping excessively (hypersomnia)
- Low energy and/or fatigue
- Increased restlessness (shakiness, fidgeting, hand-wringing, pacing) or lethargy (slowed speech, slowed walking)
Have you experienced any of the physical symptoms of depression? In the space that follows, list the symptoms you’ve felt in your body and explore how you usually cope with them. Maybe these manifestations of depression have been too challenging to cope with; that’s okay to admit. Take a candid look at your experiences with depression, and try not to judge yourself. Simply be honest.
Who Is at Risk for Depression?
You might have heard that depression can result from chemical imbalances in the brain. While this is a widely held, yet controversial, belief, on its website, Harvard Medical School stresses that this disease is too complex to assign one particular cause.
Depression can result from a variety of factors, including but not limited to genetics, serious illnesses, certain medications, difficulty with mood regulation, and stressful life events. For instance, people who experience a death in the family, a divorce, or a traumatic event (such as past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse) are often at risk of developing depression.
In many cases, trauma survivors are not only coping with depression but are also dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some symptoms of depression are similar to those of PTSD, including difficulty concentrating, feeling detached from others, trouble experiencing positive emotions, and trouble sleeping.
Both depression and PTSD may also cause people to experience a decreased level of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities as well as an increase of negative beliefs or expectations about themselves.
Sometimes there isn’t an identifiable cause for depression. If that’s the case for you, you know how frustrating this can feel. However, just because you don’t know what caused you to be depressed doesn’t make it any less real. Depression is as legitimate as any medical condition, and the reality is that sometimes we just don’t know what causes it. The good news is that even if we don’t know the cause, we do know that it’s an extremely treatable condition.
In addition, if you want to maximize your chances of feeling better, you will also need to be flexible in both how you think and what you’re willing to do. Getting better also requires openness and honesty—to consider that the way you’ve been thinking may not be accurate (especially when you’re feeling depressed) and that the way you’ve been acting may not be serving your long-term goals—along with a willingness to try doing and thinking about things differently.
After all, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, odds are you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. Therefore, we challenge you to suspend any disbelief you may have and instead challenge yourself to read this book, practice the steps in a consistent manner, and see what happens.
We’ve designed this book to be easy to read, with lots of practical examples (many from our own lives), along with worksheets, quotes, and examples to get you started and keep you going.
Remember: Depression is real. It is common. And it is serious. Fortunately, it is also highly treatable. We hope this book proves to be a helpful starting place.