SELF – Colton Haynes’ Candid Instagram Sheds Light on the Physical Symptoms of Depression

The physical symptoms of depression can be surprising to experience, and be particularly debilitating in concert with the mental symptoms of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness. When it comes to Major Depression, physical symptoms are almost always a part of the picture and play a key role in disrupting a person’s ability to cope with life. In a push to raise mental health awareness for mental health day, actor Colton Haynes recently posted on social media how paralyzing his depression has felt, and how important it is to seek help if you feel like you are drowning.

Depression isn’t always just a bad mood, or feeling sad. It is a sense of feeling depressed everywhere in your body. You can feel agitated or physically slow, experience appetite and weight changes, disruption to your sleep patterns, and struggle to concentrate and maintain focus. Depression is a full body experience that can make it hard to do the things you normally do, and feel like you are drowning in the fog or fatigue.

Haynes’ post has raised curiosity about depression. How common are physical symptoms, what do they typically look like, and what can you do if you are struggling? I was very pleased to help out with this great article for SELF explaining how to understand the physical aspects of depression and when it is time to seek help.


“It almost feels like you’re catatonic in its more severe form,” licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF. Although many of these physical symptoms were once thought to be signals of “atypical” depression, they’re now thought to be pretty common with all types of depression, she explains.

People with depression may describe feeling like they’re walking through quicksand and fighting to do things that normally seem effortless, like getting in the shower, putting on clothes, brushing their hair, and preparing food, Dr. Clark says. “These symptoms are felt by the sufferer, but are also noticeable to others, and add to the feelings of guilt and worthlessness that are already present,” she says.

For some people with depression, talk therapy alone is enough to help them feel better. But when depression is severe enough to cause physical symptoms, medication is often needed—Dr. Clark calls it a “first line of treatment.”

Antidepressants alter the way some of the brain’s chemical messengers, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, operate, Dr. Clark explains. Although we don’t totally understand the way these neurotransmitters are involved in depression, we do know that medications acting on them can be extremely helpful for some people dealing with the condition.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD