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Flu-Like Symptoms & Depression

author image Barb Nefer
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."
Flu-Like Symptoms & Depression
Depression and the flu can cause similar symptoms. Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Depression is a psychological condition that also has many physical manifestations. This emotional disorder has various causes, including chemical or hormonal imbalances or past experiences, while flu is caused by a virus. Despite this, the two conditions share some common symptoms, and they both can make the sufferer feel miserable.


Depression is an emotional disorder that overwhelms sufferers with sad feelings that last longer than normal. According to the Help Guide website, depression can cause sufferers to lose interest in normal activities and to isolate themselves and neglect their responsibilities. People with severe cases of depression need counseling, treatment with medication or both.

Flu, also known as influenza, is a viral illness that leaves sufferers feeling achy and drained. Some medications might shorten the duration of the flu, but most people should simply rest and drink fluids while the illness runs its course, according to the Mayo Clinic.


According to Help Guide, many symptoms of depression are the same as or similar to symptoms of the flu. These include headaches, muscle pain and general body ache, appetite loss, a low energy level and lack of interest in normal activities. Some flu sufferers also feel irritable, can't concentrate well and can't fall asleep, which also can be symptoms of depression.

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Depression is a paralyzing condition. It affects sufferers emotionally and traps them in malaise. The physical symptoms contribute to the feeling of not wanting to do anything. Flu-like symptoms like headaches and aching muscles make people with depression less likely to be active. This prevents depression-fighting activities like socializing with others and doing physical exercise.


National Panic & Anxiety Disorder News, or NPAD, a website on emotional disorders, warns that anxiety is often mistake for depression. These two conditions can occur together, or an anxiety sufferer can confuse the symptoms with depression. NPAD explains that when you have the flu, infection-fighting antibodies cause common symptoms like weakness, sweating and muscle pain. Depression and anxiety can trigger these same symptoms, and it can be hard to pinpoint which emotional condition is actually causing them. A counselor or psychologist can make the right diagnosis.


Certain illnesses can mimic depression, and physical symptoms can indicate an underlying medical problem. For example, Gregory Simon of the Center for Health Studies Group Health Cooperative in Washington says that thyroid problems, Cushing's syndrome and sleep apnea can all be mistaken for depression. People who suspect they are suffering from depression should visit a physician for a physical to determine whether their symptoms are the result of an emotional problem or a physical illness, and to choose a course of treatment.

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