Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world, affecting more than 350 million people worldwide. But it’s not just an issue of the mind – it has physical symptoms as well. Some depression symptoms are so subtle that you might not even realize that you’re experiencing them at all until your loved ones point them out to you, but knowing what signs to look out for can help you take action and get the treatment you need.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness characterized by an ongoing feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Other symptoms may include weight changes, sleep problems, low energy levels, changes in appetite or sex drive and suicidal thoughts.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), about one in 10 Americans experience depression at some point during their lifetime. Depression can be treated, but many people with depression feel hopeless that it will ever end.
If you do struggle with depression, be sure to speak to someone – whether a friend or a professional.
Here are 10 signs of depression.
Chronic fatigue, which can be caused by depression or another underlying health condition, is often referred to as a physical symptom but it can also contribute to feelings of sadness.
When you’re severely fatigued, even simple tasks like showering and getting dressed can seem daunting. Chronic fatigue isn’t just inconvenient; it makes it hard to keep up with your day-to-day activities—and that constant exhaustion can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
To combat chronic fatigue: Do things you enjoy every day—even if it’s only for a few minutes.
No interest in activities you used to enjoy
If you normally enjoy certain activities—such as exercising, going out with friends, or playing video games—but have lost interest in them completely, it could be a sign that you’re depressed.
It could also be something else entirely—so don’t go jumping to conclusions.
But if your depression symptoms are interfering with your daily life and you feel sad for more than two weeks straight, it’s time to talk to a doctor. If your doc says it is depression and prescribes antidepressants, take them as directed and follow any other treatment plan that is outlined. Work closely with your doctor so they can help guide you through recovery.
Changes in appetite or weight
Some people who experience depression begin to lose interest in food or notice a change in appetite. Even when they feel hungry, they just don’t want to eat. Others might start eating more than usual, which can lead to weight gain.
Changes in sleep patterns: People with depression often have trouble sleeping and tend to get less sleep than those who aren’t depressed. Insomnia can occur as part of depression or on its own (such as insomnia due to stress). Sleeping too much is also a sign that something isn’t right, so if you find yourself waking up tired and going back to bed for another hour or two hours later, that could be a warning sign too.
Difficulties with concentration, decision making, or forgetfulness
While it’s normal to experience forgetfulness from time to time, if you can’t remember where you put your keys or why you walked into a room, you may be experiencing depression. If issues with concentration and decision making start interfering with your work, they could also be signs of depression.
Decreased productivity at work or frequent mistakes due to poor concentration could lead to fewer hours spent working. This can make financial problems worse as well as lead to a loss in self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness about life in general. The more intense these feelings become, it may seem easier just not to get out of bed at all.
Unexplained physical problems
Physical symptoms can indicate depression. Feeling tired all day, every day, is a typical example; other common physical symptoms include loss of appetite, irritability and trouble sleeping.
These problems might be caused by something completely unrelated to depression, but they’re still good to pay attention to and mention to your doctor. If your illness goes undiagnosed or untreated for a long time, it could become more serious than you expect. Any one physical symptom on its own could be due to something like anemia or asthma—but if you have multiple physical signs that may point towards depression, it’s worth exploring your options with a doctor.
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Major depression is a serious mental illness, but feeling down or hopeless is common and usually doesn’t require medical treatment.
However, if you feel hopeless or worthless more days than not for two weeks or longer, it’s important to seek help to make sure that your feelings aren’t due to clinical depression. If you think you might be experiencing signs of depression (or another mental health issue), it’s important to see a doctor right away so that they can perform an evaluation and refer you to an appropriate treatment plan. If you are facing a serious mental health issue like depression, do not attempt to tackle these challenges alone.
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you’re feeling as though your life is no longer worth living, it’s important to seek professional help and realize that these feelings are symptoms of depression.
Depression can be a scary disease, but it’s also highly treatable with medication and therapy. If left untreated, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions that may result in death.
To prevent suicide: talk to someone – a friend or family member, contact your doctor or reach out to a helpline or crisis centre near you. You deserve support and treatment. And remember: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Anxiety that won’t go away
Depression can lead to anxiety which is constant fear of things that you cannot control. If you ever feel like you are getting upset over something that may happen in the future or you get scared because of an upcoming event, you may struggle with anxiety. You may have trouble sleeping and experience frequent headaches, digestive problems, trouble concentrating or remembering details.
Anxiety can make it really hard to do the daily tasks. Some people have reported the feeling of nausea, tremors and shakes, and uncontrollable feeling of upset. It is best to speak to a professional for an appropriate treatment.
Further reading: 8 Steps to Manage Anxiety
Irritability and agitation
When you’re depressed, you may be prone to sudden outbursts or become irritable or argumentative without any apparent cause. You might snap at your friends and family without realizing it until later. It’s important to pay attention to changes in your behavior that could indicate depression.
If irritability has become a daily occurrence, or if you find yourself snapping at people over little things all of the time, talk to someone about it. Even if you think you don’t have depression, ask someone who knows you well for their thoughts on whether these behaviors seem unusual for you.
Although worry is a part of life, persistent and excessive worrying may be an indication that you’re suffering from depression.
Pay attention to how often you find yourself worrying, as well as what exactly you’re most worried about. Keeping track of your worrying patterns may help to identify if it’s become a problem in your life and when it started, which can be helpful for seeking treatment sooner rather than later.
When you start to notice symptoms of depression, it’s important to take action right away. This doesn’t necessarily mean medication or therapy. In fact, there are plenty of steps you can take to alleviate your depression symptoms naturally, including joining a support group and reaching out to friends and family members for help. Make sure you know what depression looks like so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible; if left untreated, depression can lead to serious issues with work productivity and physical health.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s post! Feel free to reach out to us in the comments for any further support.