What are the hidden symptoms of depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder that can impact people in different ways. It often goes undetected because the symptoms can be hidden or mistaken for other issues, the most common being anxiety. Due to their variety, the symptoms can also be easily dismissed when you don’t know what to look for.

Many people believe that depression only affects people who have a lot of problems in their lives, but that is not necessarily the case. While your finances, workload, family situation, and certain habits can certainly affect your chances of depression, this illness remains a mental illness and it is not solely based on your environment. In this article, we will explore some of the lesser-known signs of depression. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out for help. You do not have to suffer in silence.

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What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness that affects how you feel, think and behave. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Each year, it affects millions of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but there are some common signs that you may be depressed. Here is a short list of symptoms to look for if you think you have depression:

  • Feeling sad or down most of the time
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling tired or sluggish all the time
  • Changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual
  • Changes in your sleep patterns; trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

The different types of depression

There are different types of depression, each with their own set of symptoms. I am including a short definition of each to show how different they can be, even if they’re all put together under “depression”:

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): This is the most common type of depression, characterized by a persistent low mood and lack of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. MDD can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and changes in appetite.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Formerly known as Dysthymia, this type of depression is characterized by a low mood that lasts for at least two years. PDD can impact your daily life significantly, causing problems with work, school, and relationships.

Postpartum Depression: This type of depression can occur after giving birth and is marked by intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and worthlessness. Postpartum depression can also lead to problems with breastfeeding, feeding difficulties for the baby, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby.

Bipolar Disorder: This mental health disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings between periods of mania (an abnormally elevated mood) and depression. During a manic episode, a person may feel extremely happy and energetic or irritable and aggressive. Bipolar disorder can also cause psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during certain times of the year, most commonly winter months. SAD is thought to be caused by a lack of sunlight exposure, which disrupts the body’s natural rhythm and leads to depressive symptoms.

woman, sitting and holding her head with a scribble of lines to illustrate a depressive state
It’s lonely to be depressed.

What can happen if you don’t seek help for your hidden depression

If you are experiencing any of the hidden symptoms of depression, please reach out for help. You do not have to suffer in silence. Depression can be a very serious mental health disorder that can lead to a number of negative consequences if left untreated.

Untreated depression can have a significant impact on your life:

  • Isolation, which may also result in lost friendships
  • Having problems with focus, feeling like your brain is working much slower, being apathetic
  • Developing chronic physical health problems such as headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain
  • Again, having suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm behaviors
  • Intrusive thoughts

The bottom line is that depression is a serious condition that requires treatment. Do not wait to seek help. There are many resources available to you, and there is no shame in getting the support that you need.

How do i know if I’m depressed?

Just as depression can be plain as day, it can also be almost impossible to discern. In a way, the media’s portraiture of depression is doing harm; it is far from what you may experience in reality.

pictured: a .gif from the series The Queen's Gambit, where the main character is smoking and drinking in her underwear to indicate her depression.
Depression is thoroughly romanticized in the media. And no, I don’t mean to say that she DOESN’T have depression; just that it’s not showing the whole picture.

If you are experiencing any of the following hidden symptoms of depression, please reach out for help:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and constantly stressed,
  • Worsening anxiety due to problems piling up, usually due to not being able to deal with them
  • On the other hand, having all of these problems may cause you to shut down entirely and stop caring
  • Effects on memory, especially short-term memory, and decision-making
  • Known chronic physical health problems becoming worse with no apparent reason(having known chronic illnesses can make it easy to blame the depression on them instead of investigating, too)
  • Looking for relief through self-medication or other addictive tendencies
  • Struggling with mood swings and irritability
  • Feeling worthless, telling yourself the people around you wouldn’t care if you disappeared

Depression is a fairly well known issue, and there are many ways to work on it, be it therapy, prescribed medication, a thorough change of routine(definitely not easy) and taking the proper steps to recovery.

One of these steps is self-care. No, I won’t tell you to pour yourself a bubble bath, but taking care of your body and mind is paramount to recovering from depression. In this case, the idea of treating the symptoms as well as the illness itself is a perfect duo.

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