Psychosomatic fallout from depression in vicious circle

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Anyone dealing with pschosomatic fallout from depression?  How have you got on?  Any advice?

I like to think that I've sorted my underlying depression (primarily through being kinder to myself, CBT and early retirement) but have a series of minor-but-debilitating health issues where essentially the medics can find no obvious physical cause.  Unfortunately, the pain, discomfort and their lengthening illness from a bug depresses me.

I'm left with tiredness and lethargy (I'm investigating low Vitamin B12 and a less-than-ideal thyroid), neuropathic pain at the sight of a nose operation 20 years ago, tooth pain with no cause found, a chronic cough (this may be from post-nasal drip) that has been particularly bad over the last few months, feelings of suffocating and a tight chest with peak flow lung capacity less than 2/3 of the expected figure, restless legs (horrible, horrible, horrible)ove. One or 2 of them I could cope with, but I now just feel overwhelmed.

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  • Posted

    No responses yet.  Perhaps I've worded it wrong - eg does 'psychosomatic' have people running for the hills? - as surely I can't be the only one of those posting here who has concerns or experience of physical illnesses linked to or triggered by depression?

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  • Posted

    Hi StrivingOn,

    My soon-to-be published book It's the Iron: How My Iron Deficiency was Misdiagnosed as Disabling Arthritis and Why Your Depression, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain and Fatigue Might Be Low Iron, Too is on this very subject, so I'll chime in smile

    You're not alone. Few people are aware that physical symptoms are very common in patients with depression - in fact, one study found that 69% of patients with depression didn't have mood symptoms at all, but presented ONLY with physical symptoms - particularly joint and muscle pain and fatigue. However, those same symptoms can also be caused by low iron, which, significantly, can also cause DEPRESSION.

    Your description of symptoms sounds very much in line with what one sees with low iron. Even apart from the depression, low iron can cause the tiredness and lethargy you're describing, random pains, and shortness of breath (for me this was a feeling like even though I was breathing, I wasn't able to get enough air). The other thing that makes me suspect it is the restless legs syndrome, which is known to be caused in a large percentage of cases by low iron. I can't guarantee that that's it, but, boy, it sure seems to fit.

    You would think that if you had low iron, blood tests would have caught it, right? Unfortunately, no. Standard blood tests only reveal anemia, not iron deficiency, and hemoglobin levels don't change until late in the game. I had debilitating pain, fatigue, and other symptoms for FIVE YEARS before my blood tests showed that I was anemic. Oh, and guess what? Even then, my doctor did not believe that all of my problems were caused by low iron! Even now, when I've been completely cured for almost a year, he doesn't believe it! This is just not something that's commonly known, even among physicians.

    So here's my advice. Go and get a blood test, but don't settle for the usual hemoglobin & hematocrit, ask specifically for a test of your ferritin level and see where it falls. Ferritin levels as low as 22 are often considered "normal," but don't let that fool you, "normal" can be different for different people. Mine, for example, needs to be at about 70 for me to remain pain-free, and people with restless legs syndrome are usually advised to keep theirs above 50, as 83% of people with the condition achieve remission when they keep their iron up to this level.

    Let me know how it goes - I'll keep my fingers crossed that this will help you!

    Good luck,


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  • Posted


    I don't think Iron is an issue as i've had the following blood test results:

    Ferritin 155.4

    UIBC 53.0 umol/L (20 - 62)

    Iron 16.0 umol/L (6.0 - 34.5)

    Total iron binding Capacity 69.0 umol/L (45 - 70)

    Transferrin saturation 23.2 % (15 - 45)

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  • Posted

    I too have a illness with many physical symptoms with seemlinly no cause, Its so tiring feeling all the symptoms and mentally draining trying to find a cause drs run tests and say there's nothing wrong and put it down to anxiety. Head cloudiness can't seem to focus on anything without feeling weird one pupil is now larger than the other one about half way through feeling all these other symptoms no head ache but almost a pressure inside my head constantly 24/7 for the past 5 months, it's depressing the hell out of me and making me miserable all the time, overwhelming and so draining. Also I'm super afraid of death no because of me but because of what I leave behind and what i will miss with my children and my wife and that thought haunts my everyday in other words I know how you feel and I understand all too well what you are going through

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