What are the physical signs of a chemical imbalance?

Updated April 17, 2017

The human brain contains billions of neurons that use constant communication to regulate a person's behavioural and emotional reactions. Neurons, also known as nerve cells, use a chemical in the brain called neurotransmitters to maintain cell communication. When something disturbs the normal flow of neurotransmitters, it can lead to changes in a person's mood, behaviour and ability to function, according to The Health Center. This neurotransmitter disturbance, often referred to as a chemical imbalance, can cause a mental illness, such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.


Though most people believe insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, the medical community defines insomnia as a time when a person requires more than 30 minutes to go to sleep. Insomnia is often linked to psychiatric illnesses associated with chemical imbalances, such as post traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, indicates the Doctor's Guide. When left untreated, insomnia can exacerbate psychiatric and physical conditions, so it's important for a person who is experiencing this health condition to seek medical attention.

Aches and Pains

Unexplained aches and pains can signal a chemical imbalance since they are symptoms of conditions, such as mild to moderate depression. Mild to moderate depression is the most common form of the mental illness, and afflicts 30 million people per year in the U.S. In addition to mental or psychiatric indicators, depression presents very real physical symptoms. Approximately 80 per cent of patients diagnosed with depression exclusively display physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, joint pain and muscle aches, based on information from the University of California San Diego.

Emotional Instability

One of the primary symptoms of a chemical imbalance is a marked change in a person's mood and behaviour. While the medical community hasn't established a direct link between a chemical imbalance and mood disorders, they have noted chemical inconsistencies in patients with these disorders, according to the Insight Journal. Anxiety, nervousness and sadness are normal emotions everyone experiences at some time in their lives. When a person experiences a chemical imbalance, though, these emotions may appear without cause or last longer than normal.

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About the Author

Wadia Whalen has been writing professionally since 2000. Her work has appeared in "WV South" and "Et Cetera," as well as in various online publications. Whalen has won several awards for her short stories, including the Wallace C. Knight Honors in Writing Award. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Marshall University.