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Not Just In Your Head - The Physical Symptoms of Mood Disorders

posted Sep 22, 2014, 9:17 PM by AndrewandSarah Witzel

Stomachache? Shaky hands? Headache? Racing heartbeat? Nausea? Back pain? These symptoms can be caused by a mood disorder, such as perinatal depression or anxiety. These physical symptoms that are caused by mental health issues are often referred to as “psychosomatic” or “somatisation.” These words come from the Greek-derived word “somatic” which means “of the body.” They are physical discomforts or pains with a mental cause.

These physical symptoms are just as real as feeling sleepless, irritable, or withdrawn. The fact that they have a mental rather than bodily cause does not mean that you are making them up or imagining them. The physical symptoms listed above (and that is not a comprehensive list!) are commonly experienced by people suffering from mood disorders, and are a legitimate part of the disease.

So what can be done about these symptoms? If they are caused by a mood disorder, they should improve as you progress through treatment for the underlying cause. Of course, mention all physical symptoms that are bothersome to you to your healthcare provider. Even if you have a mood disorder, there is of course the possibility that bodily pains may be unrelated. Some symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, should be checked out immediately and never ignored.