Can depression and anxiety make u sick?

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One aspect of depression and anxiety that makes these disorders so frustrating is how they affect the whole body. But can depression and anxiety actually make you sick?

No two experiences of depression are the same. But it’s pretty common to feel lethargic, fatigued, agitated, tearful, in pain, no appetite or increased appetite, and headaches, in addition to feeling down.

Similarly, anxiety can show up in the body in lots of ways. Common symptoms are tightness in the chest, agitation, trembling, chest pain, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness, tingling or cold in the extremities, panic, heart palpitations, etc.

In other words, you experience these disorders physically, as well as emotionally. You feel sick. This whole body experience can easily be misinterpreted as a physical illness, rather than a mental one.

However, sometimes depression and anxiety can actually make you sick. More precisely, they can contribute and lead to actual physical illness or another mental illness. This dynamic typically happens in two ways. First, if depression or anxiety is not treated and even becomes chronic. Second, if depression or anxiety trigger another disorder.

Getting Sick When You Don’t Treat Depression or Anxiety

You can heal your depression and anxiety. Usual treatment involves medication, behavior changes, and psychotherapy. And if your treatment combines all these modalities, you increase your chances of treatment success. However, stigma, lack of knowledge, lack of resources, etc., keep many sufferers of these disorders away from treatment.

The risks untreated depression and anxiety pose make this particularly unfortunate. Make no mistake. Your put your physical health at risk by not treating your depression or anxiety. You may make yourself truly sick.

• Sleep Deprivation. Disrupted sleep commonly goes with depression and anxiety. Whether you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, disrupted sleep triggers a host of other problems. These include ongoing insomnia, headaches, increased stress, and impaired immunity.

• Immunity Impairment. The reason 7-9 hours of sleep nightly is important is for the restorative functions that happen during sleep. This leaves your body less able to fight off illness.

• Chronic Inflammation.  Stress linked to depression and anxiety and immunity system impairment contribute to chronic inflammation.  

• Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure. Research well established the connection between depression and heart disease.  

• Migraine and Headaches. Anxiety, particularly, seems to increase likelihood of migraine and headache. Similarly, depression ups the probability of having headache.

• Weight Loss or Gain. Weight fluctuations are so common in depression and anxiety that it is one of the factors for diagnosis. Some people lose their appetite when depressed. 

So If My Depression or Anxiety is Chronic, Does It Mean I’m Even More Likely To Get Sick?

Unfortunately yes. Studies show the negative effects on your physical health increase when depression and anxiety become chronic. For example a Canadian Study. showed those with chronic anxiety developed stroke, aneurysm, and other cerebrovascular disease at a higher rate than the general population. Chronic anxiety also heightened incidence of heart, gastrointestinal, hypertensive, and respiratory diseases.