Experiencing the occasional bad day is perfectly normal, but going through more sad days than happy ones is a cause for concern. There are several forms of depression; depression is an illness, and like all illnesses, it has multiple symptoms. One of the clearest signs of depression is an unshakeable, constant sadness and inability to see positivity in the future. This is a definite indication that you should reach out for help. However, the body can also respond to depression with different, lesser-known symptoms.
Changes in Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is closely linked to emotional issues and stress disorders. Women who are suffering from depression often notice their periods have become irregular (occurring less or more often than once than every 21 - 35 days, or with reduced duration or heaviness of bleeding) or even stopped completely.
Constipation occurs when stools remain in the large intestine for too long and the colon absorbs water from them, making them hard, dry, and painful to pass. Depression can cause digestive disorders, such as constipation, that recur in spite of medication.
It is no secret that constant fatigue is a symptom of depression, but sufferers of depression also experience difficulties sleeping, in spite of tiredness. Insomnia, interrupted sleep, and early-morning wakefulness are all symptoms of depression.
Difficulty Making Decisions
Depression can compromise the cognitive functions of the brain. These are the functions that drive concentration, decision-making, and memory, and sufferers of depression may notice increasing difficulties in these areas. This can hinder professional and personal life and contribute to distress.
The emotions involved in depression are far more complex than persistent sadness. A depressed person will likely experience a spectrum of negative emotions, including anger, paranoia, guilt, and shame.
Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts longer than three months, and it is often difficult to link to a specific disease or injury. Chronic pain - including general achiness, headaches, and cramps - is common among those suffering from depression.
These symptoms alone may seem easy to ignore, but when accompanied by feelings of profound sadness, anxiety, or negativity, your body is sending a clear message: it's time to seek help. Depression has a variety of causes, including chemical imbalances, genetics, hormonal factors, stress, trauma, or illness, all of which can be treated and worked through. Speak to a loved one, counselor, or doctor if you are experiencing these or other symptoms of depression.
- Ghatavi, K. et al. (2002). Defining guilt in depression: a comparison of subjects with major depression, chronic mental illness and healthy controls. Journal of affective disorders, 68(2-3), 307-315. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12063158
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Clinical depression - symptoms. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Constipation - Causes. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Constipation/Pages/Causes.aspx
- National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). What Is Depression? Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Depression fact sheet. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression.html
- Office on Women's Health. (n.d.). Pain. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/the-healthy-woman/pain.pdf