Depression is something that everyone feels from time to time. Maybe you’re going through a rough patch with work or with a relationship. Maybe some difficult event is happening in your life.
For some, the feeling is passing and temporary. For some 350 million people around the world, though, the listless, despondent feeling doesn’t going away, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Even harder than going through those feelings every day is when others around you, even loved ones, don’t believe it’s a real and potentially dangerous health issue.
If you’ve ever been told to “just snap out of it” or that it’s “all in your head,” then you know what we mean.
Depression, though, is hard to pin down because it can affect people very differently. Some people only struggle with it during certain times of the year, for example, while some struggle with it all the time.
There are, however, some characteristics of this disorder that are common. If you spot them in yourself or someone else, speak up!
Consider talking to a professional about your options should you feel like you have signs of depression. If you notice someone else is struggling with depression, there are steps you can take to help and support them through their trying time.
Do you know the warning signs of depression? Read on to see if you do!
Depression Affects Millions
Depression, along with many other mental health issues, aren’t always taken seriously. This leads to millions not getting the treatment and support they need.
The WHO estimates that some 350 million people live with depression all over the world. For some, it can be a passing mood or phase, while for others, it’s a chronic, lifelong condition.
In the U.S., women and African Americans have a higher risk of developing clinical depression, along with other mood disorders.
Depression manifests both physically and emotionally.
What Does Depression Physically Feel Like?
Physical Symptom #1: Changes In Sleep Patterns
People with depression tend to sleep either too much or too little. You might find yourself tossing and turning all night, or barely able to keep your eyes open early in the evening or late in the morning.
Depression also messes up the circadian and homeostasis processes in your body, which are responsible for both getting you to sleep and waking you up. Lack of sleep greatly diminishes quality of life. Conversely, people with insomnia are at a greater risk of developing depression.
Physical Symptom #2: Fatigue
Depression quashes the body’s natural production of serotonin, which gives you a happy, content feeling. When this neurotransmitter is reduced, it in turn causes other neurotransmitters to be reduced, including epinephrine, which gives you energy.
Even with a good night’s sleep and enough food, someone with depression will feel physically tired and sluggish.
Physical Symptom #3: Trouble With Concentration And Short-Term Memory
Depression, along with the physical fatigue it brings, can also affect our ability to concentrate and be alert to the world around us.
As a result, many people with depression feel overwhelmed by everything going on around them, even if it’s just ordinary, everyday things. They may also find it difficult to recall short-term information or forget or misplace things.
Physical Symptom #4: Changes In Eating Habits
Depression can also alter eating habits. Some people may overeat and gain weight, while others will lose their appetite and stop eating.
Loss in appetite will also make someone with depression feel in an even worse mood, and will make them even less attracted to food, creating a vicious, unhealthy cycle. However, people with severe depression usually report a steady weight gain over time, possibly from becoming sedentary as well as from comfort eating.
Any drastic change in eating habits should never be ignored, especially if there’s rapid weight loss or gain.
Physical Symptom #5: Changes In Appearance
Depression can also alter people’s appearance in other ways. Many people with depression stop caring about how they look, and may appear disheveled or messy. Sometimes, even bathing seems pointless. This can drastically affect personal hygiene.
What Does Depression Emotionally Feel Like?
Emotional Symptom #1: Mood Swings And Irritability
We think of depression as looking like sadness and despair, but many times, it also manifests as anger. People with depression tend to feel on edge more, and so the slightest provocation can make them lose their temper, causing them to lash out at loved ones.
Even if they don’t express it, bottled-up rage can also be detrimental to health. Depression that comes with anger will often last longer than depression without anger.
Emotional Symptom #2: Reckless Behavior
Someone with depression has a sense of despair and hopelessness, and this can manifest in reckless or even dangerous behavior if they just don’t care anymore.
This can mean ignoring other health issues, making unsafe choices, spending too much money, or abusing alcohol or drugs.
Emotional Symptom #3: Loss Of Interest In Pleasurable Activities
A common symptom of depression is a person’s loss of interest in activities they used to like. Where a hobby used to provide stress relief, a sense of accomplishment, and a way to creatively express themselves, depression has taken away all of those good feelings.
If you notice that a favorite activity is suddenly absent, it may be worth exploring this as a sign of depression.
Emotional Symptom #4: Low Self-Esteem, Guilt, And Hopelessness
It might sound obvious, but someone with depression is not going to be feeling great about themselves. This feeling of low self-worth is often confounded by the idea that they shouldn’t be feeling depressed, and that they should just “get over it.” This leads to a cycle of feeling guilty, feeling like a failure, and feeling like they’ll never get better.
If you catch yourself in a cycle like this, it might be time to start talking to someone about it to learn ways of removing yourself from these damaging thoughts.
Emotional Symptom #5: Withdrawal
Depression makes people feel isolated. Often, they’ll start pulling out of social or family functions or not interacting with people as much. Someone with depression may find themselves alone too much, which can intensify feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.
What Should You Do If You Think You’re Depressed?
If you see any of these signs in yourself, ask for help from a professional immediately so you and your therapist can create a therapy solution that works for you.
If you see them in someone else, you can also reach out to get advice on how to help them and how to keep yourself mentally healthy while assisting your loved one.
And if you or someone you know experiences thoughts of self-harm, immediately contact a professional who can help. This can be a trusted professional you already know, or you can call a to speak to someone.