If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, you’re far from alone. In 2017 over 7 per cent of U.S. adults — approximately 17.3 million people — had at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. What’s more, a study published in September 2020 in the journal JAMA Network Open found that the prevalence of depression symptoms tripled in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all feel sad sometimes. When something challenging happens, feeling down for a while is part of processing the resulting emotions. But, feeling sad is different from having depression. Depression is a prolonged feeling of deep sadness accompanied by a disinterest in things that usually make you happy. When you’re depressed, the sadness isn’t always connected to an upsetting life event. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real or personally impactful.
1) Appetite changes.
depression leaves you withdrawn and checked out, and that can manifest as a loss of appetite. According to experts, If your brain is preoccupied with negative thoughts, you may forget to eat or lose interest in cooking or preparing meals. On the other hand, sometimes the disease kicks in the opposite effect, making you hungry and driving you to overeat. The mix of emotions that tend to accompany depression—sadness, pessimism about the future, and low self-esteem—can compel victims to try and soothe their feelings with food binges.
2) Trouble sleeping.
Changes in your sleep pattern may be another sign of depression. Whether that’s sleeping too much, or not enough, your sleeping habits are a great indicator of the conditions of your mental or emotional health.
Trouble sleeping and depression coexist in two ways. People with insomnia are much more likely to develop depression over time than people without sleep difficulties. On the other hand, trouble sleeping is a symptom of depression. Because they’re so closely linked, the root cause and the symptom are hard to differentiate. Regardless of which comes first, trouble sleeping causes mood disturbances and is a common sign of depression.
3) Emotional outbursts.
Sadness and melancholy are two well-known aspects of depression. Studies show that anger is connected to depression too. Men are especially likely to feel moody and irritable when they’re depressed. Since depression is a mood disorder, it prevents you from processing and expressing emotions in a healthy way. Feelings of frustration, sadness, and regret are fairly common. They contribute to the kaleidoscope of human emotions. However, unrelenting hopelessness, the absence of incentive to move forward, and the inability to see anything beyond the pain are hallmark signs of depression.
4) Thoughts Of Death.
When your outlook is clouded by sadness, thoughts of death sometimes come up. In some severe cases, depression can lead to suicide. If death or dying has been on your mind, remember that the feelings you’re having are momentary. People who feel suicidal require immediate help from a therapist or care team. Seek immediate help if you are self-harming in any way, like cutting yourself, or if you have persistent thoughts of suicide or death. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed to disclose those thoughts to someone, actions are not as far from thoughts as you think. Keeping them a secret is risking devastating results.
5) Anger or Irritability.
A low tolerance level and perpetual state of just feeling agitated, even violent may be another symptom. If you generally feel you maintain a short temper and everything or everyone gets on your nerves, it might just be a sign of depression.
It’s a sneaky sign few people recognize: according to experts depression can show up as heightened irritability. You might feel cranky and grumpy; little things that normally wouldn’t register, set you off and leave you snapping at friends and coworkers. Part of the prickliness may be the way depression exacerbates normal hormonal swings. But it could also be triggered by the weight of so many heavy emotions. Experts confirm that When people are in physical pain, they often get angry and irritated easily, and it’s the same with psychological pain—you don’t feel good or like your usual self, and that saps your patience and puts you more on edge.
6. Substance misuse.
Abusing drugs or alcohol is a form of self-medication. It provides a temporary escape from feelings of sadness and emptiness. Over time, excessively drinking or using drugs can actually make mental illness worse. Overconsumption is dangerous for both the physical and mental health of someone with depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 20 per cent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder, such as depression, also have a substance abuse disorder. About 20 per cent of those struggling with substance problems also have an anxiety or mood disorder. If you relieve your anxiety or depression with alcohol or any kind of drug, it’s time to get help.
7) Trouble Concentrating.
Lack of focus on important tasks, or just in general may be a sign of depression. When your focus is scattered, this could affect productivity and negatively impact your home and work life.
We all have moments where we forget our best friend’s name or put our car keys in the fridge. We may have days where we experience brain fog or are scatterbrained. However, depression involves a lack of concentration and difficulty making decisions that affect work performance and other responsibilities. You might make more mistakes at work or start calling in sick. Being preoccupied with thoughts of sadness and emptiness can plunge you into a head fog that affects your job, memory, and decision-making skills.
8) Unexplained aches and pains.
For decades, we have known that depression is not just a mental disorder. It clearly has physical manifestations. In a study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 69 per cent of persons who met the criteria for depression consulted a doctor for aches and pains. Mood disorders can show up in surprising symptoms — like bloating, backaches, or joint pain.
If you’ve been feeling bodily aches and pains and you’re not sure why it may be a reflection of what’s going on inside your head. Mental illness translates to physical pain in lots of different ways like Back pain, Shoulder and neck tension, Migraines, Restless legs, Stomach aches, and Stiff joints. Have unexplained aches and pains? Consider depression.
9) Loss of interest.
It’s normal for the things you’re interested in to change over time. We all grow out of hobbies and interests. But everyone has long-standing hobbies — maybe you cook or love to jog. When you stop doing those things because they don’t feel good anymore, it could be a warning sign. Loss of interest stops and keeps people from socializing or showing up for work. A sign of depression would be experiencing a reduced interest in the activities you usually love on a regular basis.
If you’ve felt this way for two weeks or more, speak to a doctor or therapist.
10 Expressions of guilt.
Feeling excessive guilt or worthlessness can also be a hallmark of depression, according to experts. People might feel guilty because they are depressed or aren’t doing enough at home or at work.
We all have moments of excitement or nervous energy. The key is to pay attention to the duration and frequency and related events that may be the source of your anxiety. For example, extra stress at work or in a relationship, even if it is a good kind of stress, can cause anxiety. However, if the anxiety is ongoing and you cannot point to a specific stressor in your life or pattern, it could be a sign of depression.
Research has proven that people with depression may display a trait called “depressive realism,” which means that they may be “more accurate” in their view of events and the control they have over those events than people without depression.
People with depression may also be more pessimistic. Studies confirm that those with a major depressive disorder often have a more negative view of the future.
Being more realistic or pessimistic than others may be one sign of depression, especially if the person has other possible symptoms of depression.
Are you experiencing any of these signs? Unfortunately, depression is all too common an experience. Depression doesn’t need to control your life. Support is here for you. Talking to a therapist is a huge step towards feeling like yourself once again. Are there other major signs of depression we failed to mention, if any, do well to share with us in the comment section.