Many people with depression will also experience physical symptoms. This can be upsetting, because you may not link these symptoms to depression and may worry that you are sick. In fact, it's been shown that up to 76% of depressed patients experience some form of physical symptoms, including headache, back pain, stomach pain, and general aches and pains. For many, symptoms of depression may involve primarily physical ones, which can lead to a delay in diagnosis and effective treatment. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor about the link between physical symptoms and depression. The right diagnosis will help you receive the right treatment. Click here for more information on how a doctor diagnoses depression based on your symptoms.

The table below lists common physical symptoms of depression and gives hints for recognizing the symptoms in yourself or someone you know. These are some signs you should look out for, however, you should always consult your doctor for a diagnosis of depression.

Physical symptoms of depression
Symptom What to look for

Problems with sleeping nearly every day

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleeping less than usual, having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, or having restless, poor, or non-restorative sleep

Changes in appetite nearly every day and/or significant changes in weight

  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss (a change of more than 5% in body weight within a month)

Fatigue or decreased energy, nearly every day

  • Lethargy, low energy, and constant tiredness nearly every day

Unexplained aches and pains

  • Pain such as headaches, stomach pain, or other pains, with no known physical cause

Try the Depression Symptom Checker to see if you have the most common symptoms of depression. Click here to learn more about what criteria doctors use to diagnose depression.

For more information on depression and its management, visit www.depressionhurts.ca.