Having a low mood or feeling on edge from time to time is perfectly normal, but if these feelings persist, they could be signs of depression or anxiety. Depression affects millions of people worldwide. It can manifest in different ways and impact individuals of all genders, ages, and backgrounds.
Despite being a common issue, many of us ignore the signs and symptoms of depression, sometimes with serious consequences. Here are a few of the common symptoms associated with depression and how to recognize depression in yourself or others.
Depression Symptoms: More Than Just Feeling Sad
Signs of depression are not always obvious or easily recognizable. Sometimes, they can be hidden or overlooked, even by the person experiencing them. Some people appear to be functioning well in their daily lives but are secretly struggling with severe depression. Although depression symptoms are different for everyone, there are a few common signs:
Changes in appetite or weight
Depression can affect your appetite and eating habits. You may experience an increase or decrease in your appetite, which could lead to weight gain or weight loss. You may also find yourself craving unhealthy foods or binge eating as a coping mechanism. Dismissing these changes in appetite or weight as normal fluctuations or stress-related behaviors may be a sign that you are ignoring the underlying depression.
Depression can also impact your sleep patterns. You may find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up often during the night. Some depression sufferers sleep excessively or constantly feel fatigued despite getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep may affect your energy levels and mood, contributing to the cycle of depression.
Loss of concentration or neglect of self-care
Depression can lead to difficulties in concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things. If you are struggling with simple tasks or experiencing a decrease in productivity at work or school and are experiencing some of the other symptoms highlighted in this article, you may be suffering from depression. Neglecting basic self-care tasks such as showering, brushing your teeth, or taking care of your appearance could also be an indicator of depression.
Depression can manifest in physical symptoms, like unexplained headaches, stomachaches, backaches, or other bodily discomforts that do not have a clear medical explanation. This could be a way for your body to express the emotional pain of depression.
Changes in Social Behavior
Depression can also affect your social behavior. You may find yourself withdrawing from social activities, isolating yourself from friends and family, or losing interest in socializing altogether. You may also experience changes in your relationships, such as becoming more irritable or distant as a result of depression.
Increased substance use
Turning to substances such as alcohol, drugs, or medications to cope with emotional pain or numbness can be a sign of depression. Substance use can further exacerbate the symptoms of depression and lead to a harmful cycle of self-medication and avoidance, which is why it’s important to take an honest look at your consumption.
Increased irritability, anger, or negative emotions
If you find yourself getting easily frustrated, snapping at others, having a short temper, or experiencing negative emotions like feelings of emptiness, helplessness, guilt, or inadequacy, you may be suffering from depression.
It’s important to note that everyone experiences depression differently, and not all individuals will exhibit the same signs or symptoms. Men, women, and teenagers may experience depression differently. (We’ll explore those differences in the next section).
If you suspect that you may be suffering from depression, don’t ignore or dismiss the signs. Depression is a treatable condition, and early intervention can lead to better outcomes. You can reach out to Ammirati Counseling for guidance in a safe and non-judgmental space.
Signs of Depression in Women
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, postpartum period, or perimenopause can increase the risk of depression in women. Many women dismiss or minimize these symptoms as baby blues or empty nest syndrome. If you don’t feel like yourself for weeks at a time, it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional or a supportive mental health specialist about your feelings.
Depression in women may manifest in different ways, including changes to your menstrual cycle or other physical symptoms. Women with depression may also experience increased guilt or self-blame and feel responsible for the negative events in their lives. This can be compounded by feelings of guilt for not meeting societal or familial expectations. Ignoring these feelings of guilt or self-blame as a normal part of being a woman or dismissing them as irrelevant may indicate that you are ignoring the impact of depression on your mental health.
Signs of Depression in Men
Men may also exhibit specific signs of depression that may be overlooked or ignored. Men may be more likely to express depression through increased irritability, aggression, or reckless behavior. They may also be less likely to seek help for depression due to societal expectations of masculinity and self-reliance. It’s important for men to know that depression isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, someone with depression may be very mentally strong and capable – even more than others who do not suffer from depression. Depression has many causes and is worth investigating and treating.
Signs of Depression in Teens
Depression can also affect teenagers, but the signs may be different from those in adults. Some of the common signs of depression in teenagers may be a drop in grades, frequent absences from school or college, and increased isolation or withdrawal. It’s a good idea to sit down with your teenager and speak openly about mental health without dismissing sudden changes as moodiness or typical teenage behavior.
Ignoring the symptoms of depression can have serious consequences. If left untreated, depression can worsen over time and negatively impact various areas of a person’s life, including their physical health, work or school performance, relationships, and overall quality of life, and may lead to conditions like anxiety, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts.
It has even been linked to a variety of physical health issues, such as the increased risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Remember, depression is just like any other illness, and there is no more shame in seeking medical treatment for depression than there is in seeking help for a broken arm. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should just “snap out of it.” That idea is extremely outdated and goes against everything the scientific world knows about depression.
If you need help, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or reach out to us at Ammirati Counseling to discuss your symptoms with licensed professionals in a confidential and safe setting. Our team is highly experienced and capable of treating a number of mental health conditions, including mood disorders or depressive symptoms.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ammirati Counseling to ask and inquire about support services that you can receive to help with overcoming feelings of depression, loneliness, stress or anxiety.