What Are the Effects of Depression on the Body?

Depression is a mental disorder that affects the mind and the body. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), the symptoms of depression that affect the body include changes in sleep, fatigue, changes in appetite, agitation, aches throughout the body and difficulty concentrating or thinking. Additionally, self-injurious behavior and suicide may occur. Depression is associated with the prolonged necessity for treatment for numerous medical issues.

Sleep and Fatigue

According to the DSM-IV-TR, sleep disturbance is the most common symptom associated with depression. Most people wake up throughout the night numerous times and are unable to go back to sleep or cannot fall asleep to begin with, Buzzle.com reports. Not sleeping or sleeping too much can cause fatigue.


Appetite usually is reduced in individuals who are depressed, according to the DSM-IV-TR. Some individuals crave certain foods or have an increased appetite. Commonly, people crave food that is unhealthy.

Agitation and Aches

Examples of agitation are the inability to sit still, pacing, pulling or rubbing of the skin or other objects, slowed speech and body movements or wringing of the hands, the DSM-IV-TR reports. The agitation usually is noticed by others.

Body aches are common with individuals who are depressed. Muscles, joints or bones may hurt throughout the body, but not for medical reasons, according to Buzzle.com. Depression also may manifest itself in one specific area of the body, such as headaches.

Concentrating and Thinking

Depressed individuals have difficulty paying attention to things, making decisions, thinking, and concentrating. They appear distracted and/or have memory issues, according to the DSM-IV-TR. Usually, they cannot do things that they used to do before they were depressed, such as paperwork at their job.

Other Medical Issues

Medical issues seem to be prolonged in individuals who are depressed. Examples of this are diabetes, stroke, myocardial infarction, carcinomas or stroke, the DSM-IV-TR reports. The treatment of the medical problem often becomes more complex when depression is an issue. Additionally, patients often become more depressed when their medical issues do not subside, creating a vicious cycle.

Self-Injurious & Suicide

Some individuals who are severely depressed hurt themselves. Cutting or burning, for example, may be an attempt to reduce depressive symptoms. Some deeply depressed individuals commit suicide.

About this Author

Cristina A. Fernandez is a newly discovered writer focusing in the field of psychology. She has extensive experience writing about a variety of topics from the field of psychology, including mental health disorders, addictions, and psychotropic medications. Fernandez graduated at the top of her class from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in psychological services.