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More About the Physical Side of Depression


By Rebecca DiFilippo

The Physical Side of DepressionIn my last blog I spoke a bit about the physical side of depression, how I felt so weighted down and lethargic all the time — that was just one of the physical aspects of depression that I experienced. The other was pain — pain in my back and hips.

Most people would not relate physical pain to a mental illness and neither did I. My knowledge of depression, which was very limited at that time, was restricted to sadness and uncontrollable emotions. However, I eventually discovered how much depression can affect the entire body physically; how it can cause symptoms that might not normally be linked to a mental illness.

I had been struggling for several months to fall asleep at night due to the pain in my back and hips. Thinking that it must be my old mattress causing the problem, I finally decided to purchase a new one. I thought it would be a good investment if it would assist in providing a full night’s sleep, thus improving my health overall. I was certain it would help me to fight off the depression as well if only I could feel more rested and have more energy — a fairly logical thought at the time. So I made the purchase and looked forward to my first full night of solid rest. Unfortunately my new mattress made absolutely no difference. The pain was still there and the sleep wasn’t.

Finally, I decided to visit a chiropractor to see if he could relieve me of the constant pain. He asked a lot of very pertinent questions about my health and in our discussion I shared that I was struggling with depression. Bingo! As it turns out, this doctor had also suffered with depression himself and he was very much educated about the illness. He explained that the lethargy I was experiencing was negatively affecting my posture. When I sat, I was slouched over and my shoulders were rounded and drooping — I just didn’t have the strength to hold myself up. This consistently poor posture had thrown my spine out of alignment as well as my one hip. This was what was causing the pain. He explained how common poor posture was for those struggling with depression. He made an adjustment on my spine, after which I began to feel better. I continued to visit him weekly until the pain was gone. Each visit we discussed my posture and ways to correct and maintain it.

It was very difficult for me to hold myself up straight during that period as I lacked the strength to do so for any length of time. However, being aware of the problems and pain that would result if I didn’t, I made great efforts to constantly correct my posture and hold my shoulders back. I had also started working out at the gym regularly, so this helped tremendously with my posture as well. The chiropractor had given me some exercises to strengthen my back and shoulders and I dutifully practiced them daily.

Having experienced these issues with pain, made me realize how much our mind and body affect each other. If not for the chiropractor, I would never have linked my physical pain to my depression and lack of energy. I had never had back or hip issues in the past and I have never had any since. For me mental illness displayed both mental and physical symptoms — a connection to consider if you are struggling with both.