Obviously, if you went overboard in a CrossFit class, you know why your muscles are sore. But if you have nagging pain you can’t explain, depression could be the cause. Backaches, muscle aches, and chronic pain flare-ups can all be a sneaky symptom. “Pain is modulated by mood, and vice versa,” says Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami. “Someone who is happy may not feel pain to the extent that someone with depression does.”
Depression affects the hormones that regulate appetite, which means you could see the number on the scale start to move up or down. “Hormones commonly disrupted by depression tell us when we are hungry and when we have had enough to eat,” says Keith Humphreys, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care. “As a result, many people with depression eat too much or too little.” Sleep issues associated with depression can compound the problem, since a lack of sleep can mess with those same hunger and fullness hormones.
Although people with depression often experience fatigue and lack of energy, they may find it difficult to get a full night’s rest. “One of the classic symptoms of depression involves ‘terminal insomnia’—waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep,” Bhatia says. “This can be very frustrating for patients, as sleep is sometimes the only refuge from debilitating depression.” And because lack of sleep can affect your mood and your ability to concentrate—which are also common symptoms of depression—it can kick off a vicious cycle. (Looking to take back control of your health?
Of course, headaches can occasionally be a sign of a serious medical condition, so don’t automatically chalk it up to depression, especially if this symptom is new to you. Sudden vision changes, numbness, or a stiff neck should be checked out by a doctor right away.