The Physical Sensation of Depression

In the spirit of opening up about mental health, here’s the thing about depression: you know how depressed people sometimes talk about a sinking feeling in their gut? It isn’t metaphorical, they’re actually feeling that.

It hasn’t been a well-studied part of mental health, but a new study published in Cognition and Emotion has looked into the physical sensations experienced alongside depression. Surveying 356 people diagnosed with mild to moderate depression (they excluded anyone diagnosed with other psychosis or bipolar disorder), researchers found that fifty-seven per cent of their sample reported experiencing sensory experiences with their depression. Forty per cent reported bodily experiences (i.e., feeling physical pain or discomfort), thirty-one reported auditory experiences (i.e., hearing an “inner critic” with an actual voice), and twenty-nine reported visual experiences (i.e., uncontrollably visualizing bad things happening). Interestingly, people who reported physical sensations associated with their depression were more likely to have been hospitalized for their depression.

Granted, this is a somewhat new element in the study of mental illness and the study needs to be replicated. That said, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it doesn’t hurt to talk to someone about it.

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