It can be difficult to tell if your bad mood is becoming a problem, especially when there are so many subtle signs of depression. While everyone feels down from time to time, true depression can really take a toll on your life. That's why it's important to recognize the signs, and get yourself some help if need be.
Many of us are aware of the classic signs of depression, and how they can make you feel downright terrible. Symptoms include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of interest in hobbies, overeating or loss of appetite, persistent anxious or "empty" feelings, decreased energy, feelings of guilt, and thoughts of suicide, according to WebMD. Depression is considered a problem when you've had symptoms daily for at least two weeks.
The annoying thing about depression is that many of these symptoms can mimic other problems, so you shouldn't necessarily assume you are depressed just because you lost your appetite (you may just be coming down with a cold, for example). Always talk to your doctor if you suspect something is wrong, and always remember there are a multitude of ways to treat depression. For more subtle signs of depression, take a look at the list below.
1. You Can't Get To Sleep
Changes in your sleep schedule can be a sign of depression, especially if you usually have a solid sleep routine that's suddenly changed. Most people with depression have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, while about 15 percent of depressed people sleep too much, according to WebMD. Depression can be worsened by lack of sleep, so if this is happening to you, make sure you talk to a doctor.
2. You Really Just Want To Be Alone
When you're feeling down, the thought of talking to someone or hanging out with friends can feel like a chore. So it's very common for depressed people to withdraw socially, according to Wyatt Myers and Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH for EverydayHealth. Of course, hanging out at home by yourself isn't always a sign of depression (as it can be downright lovely and necessary to do sometimes). But it's something to keep in mind if you're usually pretty social, but then suddenly find yourself scoffing at the idea of going out.
3. Colors Seem Dull
An interesting, and rather odd, symptom of depression is that it can make the world around you seem kind of dull, according to Myers and Marcellin. Depressed people, once they feel better, often report that everything looks more beautiful, according to Myers. So depression may be something to consider if you're no longer seeing vibrant sunny days for what they are.
4. You're Having Trouble Concentrating
Depressed people often find it hard to concentrate, and may even feel like they have brain fog, which can be very annoying if you're used to be on the ball. According to Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and college psychology instructor, for Psychology Today, "People with depression are often forgetful and frequently misplace everyday objects, like their keys or paperwork ... If you've noticed a decline in your productivity or you're having difficulty staying on task, consider the possibility that you may be depressed."
5. You Feel A Little Bit Reckless
Depression can make you throw caution to the wind, because you simply just don't care. You may start to drive too fast, engage in risky sexual behavior, or begin abusing substances as a way of dealing with how bad you're feeling. "If you or someone close to you has started indulging in new risks lately, it could be a sign of trying to cope with inner turmoil. Unfortunately, these types of unhealthy coping skills will only provide momentary relief — and can make depression worse in the long-term," said Morin.
6. Your Body Hurts
Depression can creep in as aches and pains that can't be explained. You may feel totally awful and sore, even though you haven't been working out, you aren't sick, and you aren't injured. According to Hara Estroff Marano for Psychology Today, "The pain is often vague and unexplained by injury. It may show up as headache, abdominal pain, or musculoskeletal pains in the lower back, joints and neck—alone or in any combination. The painful physical symptoms of depression typically take the form of multiple somatic complaints."
7. You Want Everything To Be Perfect
This symptom seems a bit unrelated to depression, but actually makes a lot of sense. According to health and psychology writer Alice G. Walton for Forbes, "Perfectionism and depression have been long connected to each other, and research studies have underlined the association for years ... Self-esteem is what seems to mediate the link between perfectionism and depression, since perfectionists often think that they must be 'perfect' to be acceptable, both to peers and themselves." Something to think about the next time you are sadly cleaning out your desk for the 100th time.
8. You Feel More Irritable Than Usual
Keep an eye on yourself if you've been extra cranky lately, as it can be another sneaky sign of depression. According to Walton, "Sometimes the disorder can emerge as irritability or anger — when some part of you is at a loss internally or feeling helpless or hopeless, it’s easy to lash out."
Depression has many obvious signs, like feelings of sadness and hopelessness. But it also has a lot of subtle signs that many people miss. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make sure you talk to your doctor. If you continue feeling depressed or even suicidal, then there are absolutely resources out there. Visit Mentalhealth.gov or StrengthOfUs.org for information on how to get help in your area, and if you feel as though it's an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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