Vegetative symptoms are functions or bodily processes that are most associated with the maintenance of life, such as basic bodily processes like nutritional, metabolic and endocrine functioning. Vegetative dysfunction can help individuals and clinicians identify mood disorders and psychological issues. Problems in vegetative functioning are common symptoms of depression and depressive disorders, especially among children. Mental health disorders like depression can be debilitating, affecting relationships, careers, self-worth, well-being and health. As failing vegetative symptoms indicate, depression does not just affect one’s mood; it causes physical symptoms and can significantly hinder one’s physical health.
The most common vegetative symptoms of depression include the following:
- Sleep difficulties: These include having trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up too early in the morning, having an increased need to sleep, sleeping throughout the day and developing feelings of lethargy.
- Unexplained change in appetite: Most common is a loss in appetite accompanied by significant weight loss. Even appetite disorders like bulimia, anorexia and binge and purge routines can be indicators of depression or other mood disorders. Less common is an increase in appetite accompanied by an unexplained, significant weight gain and overeating.
- Losing the ability to experience pleasure: This includes no longer having an interest in activities and hobbies one used to enjoy and simply not having the desire to get involved with activities and interests because they provide no “reward” or have little to no effect on the individual. A major example of this vegetative symptom in adults is when individuals no longer have an interest in sexual activity because they are unable to experience any pleasure or joy from sexually related activities.
- Irregular digestive and bowel patterns: Constipation and other digestive issues not related to another disorder may be the result of depression.
- Maladaptive psychomotor symptoms: Lack of ideal neurotransmitter production can cause major nutritional deficiencies that affect muscle and nerve functioning. Body aches and pains and problems with muscle coordination and motor skills are common examples of poor psychomotor functioning and vegetative symptoms of depression.
Identifying dysfunctional vegetative symptoms can be the first step toward understanding and diagnosing depression or other hard to recognize mental health issues, helping individuals get the treatment they need to move forward in recovery.