The unexpected ways depression can affect your body.

Image: iStock.

Although depression is a largely psychological illness, its symptoms and side-effects aren’t restricted to the mind.

Like stress, clinical depression can significantly interfere with the body’s ability to function. This isn’t limited to one part of the body, either — it can manifest in the immune, central nervous and cardiovascular systems, then having a ripple effect on the body’s other processes.

RELATED: The signs of depression we rarely notice.

For instance, people living with depression often experiences changes in appetite. Some will feel the urge to overeat or binge, which in turn can severely impact their weight and increase their likelihood of obesity and associated illnesses. Meanwhile, others will eat much less than usual, preventing their bodies from receiving necessary nutrients and provoking cramps, constipation or malnutrition.

How does depression affect your body
Some of the many ways depression can affect your body. (Image: Healthline)

Similarly, the feelings of sadness, grief and guilt associated with depression can cause a sufferer to have trouble sleeping, leading to fatigue, irritability and a loss of interest in things that usually bring them pleasure, including sex. It can also impact on their memory, concentration and decision-making capabilities.

Body aches, tightened blood vessels and decreased immunity, which heightens risk of illness and infection, are other possible effects of depression.

RELATED: Imagine if we treated physical illness the same way we treat mental illness.

The difficult thing is, we often dismiss these more physical symptoms because we assume they're related to an entirely different physical issue, like ageing. If you're noticing unusual changes in your body, it's worth investigating whether they're tied to your psychological wellbeing. Considering an estimated 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, it's entirely possible the catalyst isn't purely physical.

The website Healthline has created an interactive version of the body map pictured above, which allows you to find additional information about the side-effect you want to know about — click here to find out more.