Constant sadness and the inability to express joy are some classic symptoms of depression. But don’t be fooled. Many people hide the most obvious indicators of their condition by wearing a fake smile and pretending to be okay. But there are some lesser-known symptoms to watch for that can alert you to the onset of depression.
If you suspect depression, Dr. Hina Sindhu at Revîv Functional Psychology & TMS Wellness Center can evaluate your overall health and symptoms from her perspective as a board-certified physician with expertise in complex mental health issues. Because many of the symptoms associated with depression may also point to other illnesses, it’s important to seek Dr. Sidhu’s expert care rather than diagnosing and treating yourself. Here are five signs you might not realize indicate depression.
1. Weight changes
People with depression often turn to food for comfort. Depression can rob you of your ability to feel emotions, and food is a familiar, comforting act that we’re conditioned to associate with celebrations and rewards. Therefore, weight gain could be a sign that you’re self-medicating with food.
On the other hand, depression can also steal your appetite. So if you notice unexplained weight loss, it could be because you’re not eating enough, forgetting, and/or skipping meals.
Weight change by itself isn’t enough to diagnose depression and could indicate a different medical problem, but it is a symptom you should tell Dr. Sidhu about.
It may surprise you to know that a mental health issue can actually cause physical pain, but mild discomfort and chronic achiness are common for those battling depression. Some liken it to the onset of the flu, where your whole body feels slightly sore and achy. You might notice back pain, headaches, or even digestion problems.
Over-the-counter pain medications can help address depression pain as can some prescription antidepressant drugs. Dr. Sidhu can determine which medications and what doses are best for you.
3. Brain fog
What may look like simple forgetfulness to an outsider, is actually a symptom of depression. If you’re depressed, your brain produces different chemicals than a healthy brain. This can make it difficult to concentrate on tasks and people. You might find that it’s hard to make even the simplest decisions, like where to go for lunch. You find yourself offering excuses, like, ”Sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
But depression has nothing to do with your caffeine intake. To cover for your sluggish memory and inability to focus, you may begin to avoid social situations so you don’t have to make excuses. This isolation can exacerbate your depression.
Depression makes it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep. That’s why people with depression often look and feel constantly tired. Poor quality sleep shows up in a variety of ways: grouchiness, irritability, low energy, staring, and negativity.
People who have undiagnosed depression often try to compensate for their symptoms by self-medicating with stimulants, like coffee and chocolate, to give themselves a boost of energy. And when they can’t sleep and have had a hard day, they often turn to alcohol to numb the pain and sadness and help them sleep. This cyclical course worsens the symptoms and can lead to substance abuse problems.
5. Low libido
When your sex drive dives, you might think it has something to do with age or hormones. And while that may be true, it’s also a symptom of depression. Often people with depression tend to lose interest in the things they once loved doing, such as favorite hobbies and spending time with friends. Interest in sex often tops that list.
In addition to following the treatment protocol, Dr. Sindhu develops for you, one of the ways to battle a low libido is to simply refuse to let it win. Continuing to engage in sexual relations with your partner even when your interest is low due to depression can prevent it from snowballing into a self-fulfilling prophecy and also make the transition back to a normal sex life easier as you recover from depression.
These are only a few of the many hidden signs of depression; symptoms look different for different people. Other lesser-known signs include feeling guilty over little things, perfectionism, pessimism, anger, and the inability to cry.
Once Dr. Sindhu diagnoses your depression, she develops a personalized treatment plan to address your unique case. Depending on the type and severity of your depression, she might suggest:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (talk therapy)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, call us today or book an appointment online. You don’t have to suffer silently with depression. Help is available.