Is There a Connection Between A Cold, The Flu, And Our Mental Health?

October 1, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Picture this: A moment ago I was staring at the blank text field going "Ummm...Uhhh...Dammit!" And then I was coughing a rather nasty cough that lives deep inside my chest and scratches my throat. I slowly move my hand toward cough drops which have proved to be generally useless. I have a headache and realize the Tylenol is downstairs. I wonder if I can make it downstairs.

A box of tissues sit beside me where my notebooks usually are. I look up "how long does a cold last?" Apparently, seven to ten days. I am on day three. The website recommends chicken soup. I hate soup. I then type in, fingers moving rather slowly: "depression related to the common cold" although this does not feel common --I think I might be dying. But I am sort of dramatic with these things...

I'm done telling about how crappy I feel (insert sneeze here) but I have always felt I suffer from depression when I am sick. Am I alone in this?

"Everyone Becomes Depressed When They are Sick!" Right?

I don't know, I guess so, I haven't taken a general consensus, yet I've been sleeping and stealing my Kleenex from my new kittens paws. OK let's assume people do, as a whole, nobody likes being sick. But most people probably don't fall into bed and stop answering the phone. They probably don't check their "weekly pill case" certain they have missed taking a week of their Prozac (aka me). No, I really get slammed when I am sick. My dad tells my partner: "You're in for it! Run! Natalie is not exactly fun when she is sick!" He's a new addition to my life so he laughs and brings me orange juice until he realizes my father is correct. I grow fangs when sick. Why? Because I usually feel I can control my body when my mind sometimes goes awry...

Yes, being sick leaves a lot to be desired but I honestly believe that when you live with a mental illness things are a bit worse. Last week I wrote about how hormones affect those with mental illness more and I believe this to be true for the common cold and flu and everything in between. It doesn't help that we often cannot take most of the over the counter medicines because they interact with our medication (s). I was rather angry when the pharmacist told me, me stifling a cough, that I could not take cough medicine. I walked out hacking, apologizing under my breathe.

Having a Cold or Flue Does not Mean We Have Symptoms of Relapse

I'm pretty sure that's what it comes down to. Being physically ill is scary when you live with a mental illness. It's scary for me anyway. It spurs feelings of depression that frighten me until I become well and stop coughing. Until I have some much needed perspective: "Ah, yes. I am sick and not not mentally sick! Yes!"

Alright, enough rambling. I need some coffee (apparently this does not help recovery). Just remember: A cold can be just a cold and a flu just a flu. Wait it out like the rest of the gang--coughing at the same time.

Side-Note: Tissues are not soft enough and they should make chicken soup with 90% less sodium.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, October 1). Is There a Connection Between A Cold, The Flu, And Our Mental Health?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 18 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

October, 1 2012 at 7:51 am

Natalie, I hope you feel better. I also get scared when I am sick. I just had a cold and I was miserable. It definately makes my depression worse and of course when that happens I think the worst and think I'm going to end up back in the hospital. But I got through it this time.

Paul Winkler
October, 1 2012 at 11:50 am

I feel for you. I am lucky, I hardly ever get physically sick. When I do, though, it's a big big drag. Yes, I think depression is intertwined with colds and the flu. May the next 4 to 7 days pass quickly for you.

October, 2 2012 at 6:41 am

I can't take cold meds either and I just had a bad cold. I ended up drinking 2TB apple cider vinegar; 2TB honey and about 8oz of water to help with the congestion. Microwave for about 40 seconds. It did help me and didn't taste too bad --- add lots of honey! I could breathe after drinking it.

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