(Some of the ways that) Depression & Anxiety Affect Your Body

Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Health Alert
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How  Depression & Anxiety Affect Your Body

Most people think of depression and anxiety as conditions of  the mind, influencing one’s mood and outlook on life. But that’s only  part of the story. For many people, the more common manifestations of  depression are physical, not mental, and they can have long-term  consequences as well.

Headache. Chronic  headaches, particularly tension headaches, occur frequently in people  with depression and anxiety. Headaches are most likely caused by  contracting the muscles of the scalp and neck, which is a common  physical reaction when you’re under emotional  stress.

Diarrhea/constipation. Anxiety is often  linked with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can manifest as  diarrhea or constipation. It’s possible that anxiety may make you more  aware of spasms in your colon or that anxiety affects the immune system  and may trigger symptoms of IBS.

Nausea/vomiting. These may be considered symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders. One  large study found that 41 percent of people who had major complaints of  nausea in the past year were eventually diagnosed with an anxiety  disorder, and 24 percent were diagnosed with  depression.

Heart disease. People who become  depressed after a heart attack are at increased risk for a second, fatal  heart attack, while people without heart disease who become depressed  increase their risk of developing or dying of heart disease. The  heart-mind link may also include anxiety, autonomic nervous system  dysfunction, inflammation and behavioral issues, as people who are  anxious or depressed are less likely to engage in heart-healthy  activities like exercising and healthy eating and more prone to weight  issues and smoking.

Osteoporosis. People with  major depression may have lower bone mineral density, a measure of the  strength of the bones, than those with no mood  disorders.

High blood pressure. Evidence suggests  that chronic anxiety may lead to high blood pressure. Anxiety is likely  to produce temporary spikes in blood pressure rather than persistent  hypertension. Frequent spikes can damage your blood vessels, heart and  kidneys and increase your risk of a stroke.