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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Depression with atypical physical symptoms

Abstract: For some people depression has atypical symptoms: sleeping more, eating more, instead of the more common symptom of sleeping and eating too little.

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Depression with atypical physical symptoms

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Question(s): 
Written by: Petros Skapinakis, MD, MPH, PhD, lecturer of Psychiatry in the University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece. Eva Gerasi, postgraduate student in the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 30 Jul 2008.

Is it possible to have depression and not have the usual physical symptoms?

Answer:

The most common forms of depression are characterized by a general lowering of the level of activity whether this is shown by a fall in appetite, a loss of sleep, or a reduction in activities.

Paradoxically a few depressed patients experience a reversal of this usual pattern and therefore find themselves sleeping more, though not generally feeling refreshed and energetic as a result, and eating more and consequently tending to gain weight. These patients' illnesses may be missed by doctors and the true significance of their symptoms not recognized, so that treatment may be delayed or withheld.

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