When Depression Hurts: How to Identify Bodily Symptoms

Most people think of depression as strictly a mental or chemical issue in the brain.. It’s true; that’s where the core of depression stems from, however, it can cause various emotional symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness, guilt, sadness or even a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

The mental and emotional effects of depression are real and can be severe. For many individuals dealing with depression, they may also experience somatic or body-based symptoms. These physical symptoms aren’t talked about as often when it comes to depression. Yet, it’s essential to recognize them. Not only can they help you tune into how you are feeling, but they are also a clue of where you might be on the spectrum of healing from severely hurting on one end to beginning to feel better on the other side. The more severe the depression the greater the physical pain.

How can you identify some of the bodily symptoms and physical signs of depression?

Fatigue and Low Energy

There are some common stereotypes about depression and how it makes you want to stay in bed all day. That response can often be more than just an emotional symptom.

Depression tends to cause fatigue and zap your energy levels. While everyday fatigue from stress and other factors might still occur, there is a difference.

Fatigue from depression lasts for more extended periods. It doesn’t go away even if you’ve had enough rest. Sometimes even doing the most minor of activities to take care of yourself like showering, eating, and brushing your teeth can feel overwhelming and just too much when you are experiencing depression and low levels of energy. The fatigue and low energy can also come with other symptoms, like difficulty concentrating, unmotivated or feeling apathetic.

Aches and Pains

People have different tolerances for pain. When you’re experiencing depression, your pain tolerance can change significantly. Everything from a stubbed toe to a paper cut might feel extreme.

Sometimes, you may not even have a reason for experiencing pain. Your body might simply start to ache, or your nerves might feel as though they are burning with pain and irritation.

The internal pain you feel from your depression can easily manifest itself into physical pain, causing a vicious cycle within your mind and body. Many individuals with depression also experience chronic pain and associated medical illnesses.


One of the most frequent and common physical ailments associated with depression is headaches. The constant fatigue, stress, and worry you’re going through can cause headaches. While these particular headaches might not be debilitating, they usually feel like a dull, throbbing ache in your head that can last for hours. You can typically manage the headache at home but they often return quickly.

If you’re having consistent headaches that seem to return even if you’re managing them at home, you should talk to your doctor. However, if you’re experiencing other symptoms along with those headaches, it could be a physical sign of depression.

Sleeping and Eating Habits

Although these are technically “behavioral” symptoms, they can affect your body in different ways. If you’re depressed, you may notice changes in the way you eat and sleep. Some people eat too much or lose their appetite when they are depressed.

Sleep habits are similar. Some people with depression may want to sleep all of the time. Others may have difficulty getting to sleep or struggle with insomnia. Unfortunately, a lack of sufficient sleep can lead to a variety of other physical health problems as well as affect mental health. Good, quality restorative sleep is imperative to a well functioning physical body and healthy mind. If you have questions or concerns about your sleep, talk to your primary care doctor to find the best treatment options for you. A good night’s sleep can do wonders for your body and mood.

Depression can affect both your mind and body. It’s essential to understand all of the symptoms so you can recognize when it may be time to get help. You don’t have to live with pain or discomfort from depression for the rest of your life.

If you’re struggling with depression or identify with any of the symptoms listed here, please contact me. Depression can be treated and managed so you can take back control and live the life you want to.