The Physical Symptoms of Depression
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Most of us associate emotional symptoms such as hopelessness, despair, social withdrawal and prolonged sadness with depression but only half of us make the link between physical pain and depression.


The Physical Symptoms of Depression Male: Most of us associate emotional symptoms such as hopelessness, despair, social withdrawal, and prolonged sadness with depression. But only half of Canadians make the link between physical pain and depression. Dr. Tom Janzen, a Canadian family physician who specializes in mental health says depression comprises of broad range of emotional, psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Dr. Tom Janzen: The common perception of depression is that it is an emotional illness. The reality however is that many patients will present with painful physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, general aches and pains for which there is no physical cause that can be identified. This is often the first presentation that physicians will see when patients are presenting with depression. Depression may in fact increase one’s response to pain and the suffering that the patient has as a result of that pain. This is because pain and depression may share the same chemical pathways in the brain and spinal cord. Male: During their lifetime, about one in ten people in Canada will experience an episode of major depressive disorder. The diagnosis given to those suffering from depression, a distinctive feature of depression is the overwhelming feeling of isolation it causes. Feeling alone can lead to a sense of shame and somehow being different from others. Phil Upshall: There are someone who has lived the experience of depression. I can tell you that people can and do recover from depression. However, it’s very important that they seek help and obtain the appropriate diagnosis. You should talk to your doctor immediately upon experiencing either emotional or physical symptoms of depression. There are a significant number of community resources also available to help. Dr. Tom Janzen: Understanding the mind body connection and its role in depression is pivotal. You must address both the emotional and physical symptoms of depression if you’re going to be successful in achieving remission. This also may prevent future relapses into depression. Male: Depression and pain shared biological pathways and neurotransmitters. So they should be treated together in order to achieve remission. Pharmacological treatments may include antidepressants such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These are thought to work by affecting chemical messengers in the brain, believed to play roles in mood and pain. For more information about depression and tools to facilitate the patient-doctor discussion, please visit or