Seen At 11: Headaches And Depression

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — If your head is throbbing, your muscles ache and your stomach is in knots. Those symptoms may not be caused by what you think. They are actually signs of depression and recognizing them early could ease the pain.

Susan Fenton said she wasn’t sure what was causing her to feel ill, until she was diagnosed and treated for depression.

“I had a headache all the time,” Fenton told CBS 2’s Dr. Holly Phillips. “It was varying degrees of a headache, but I had it all the time. I also had diarrhea for about 10 months.”

Fenton now knows depression was causing her physical symptoms – and her cause is not unusual.

“It became very clear to me what was the illness and what was the depression after the antidepressant kicked in because all of the headache and the tummy ache and all of those symptoms went away,” Fenton said.

Of the more than 19 millions Americans estimated to suffer from depression, 80 percent also experience physical symptoms. Many people go through countless unnecessary treatments that just don’t work because they’re unaware depression is the cause.

“You can’t cut off your head and say ‘well these things are in my head,’” Fenton said. “The body acts as one.”

“How we understand depression and really all mental illnesses is that they are illnesses of the mind which is sitting in the brain and the brain is part of your body. So all of these disorders are really physical,” Dr. Richard N. Rosenthal of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital told Phillips.

In fact for some people, physical ailments are their main symptoms of depression. Some of the most common include: headaches, back pain, muscle aches, chest pain, digestive problems, fatigue, sleeping problems, change in appetite and dizziness.

Rosenthal says since depression is related to chemical changes in your brain, it may also change the way we feel pain.

“Studies have shown that depressed people have a lower pain threshold. They are more sensitive to pain,” Rosenthal said.

In many cases, treating your depression — with therapy or medicine or both — will resolve your physical symptoms, Phillips reports.

“Depression is a highly treatable illness,” Rosenthal said. “So you know it is no shame…its like any other disorder…get to your doctor, get good treatment and you will feel better.”

  • Seen At 11: Headaches And Depression | Mental Health

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  • Rob

    In the coming attractions for this story, the word MIGRAINE was specifically used as a symptom that could be caused by depression. MIGRAINE is not used once in this story, nor the common brain receptors for depression and migraine. Some antidepressants are used for prophylactic migraine treatment due to the common link.

  • John

    Hmmm. To sum it up. Have depression? Go see a doctor and they will help you.

    Nice news story there. I learned a lot.

  • G wilkie

    This must be a news story pushed by big Pharma & the psychiatry industry. This story chalks almost every ache and pain to depression, that’s exactly the myth psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies want people to believe. For example, fibromialgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are real physical illnesses but that’s not what they want you to believe. they want to make everybody pill-poppers.

  • R Steenerson

    Typical and treated/cured for over 50 years.

    She had diarrhea for 10 months, her ability to digest food correctly was destroyed by wrong bacteria in the gut and this set up a cycle where she was unable to correctly digest food which wrong bacteria lived on and continued to destroy her ability to digest properly.

    Get a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Gottschall. In it you will learn how to correct this problem and return to a normal drug free life by a simple SCD diet.

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