If you are reading this article, you are probably worried that you or a loved one you may have symptoms of depression. This is not an isolated experience: mental health issues are on the rise, especially since the start of the pandemic.
Although depression affects each person differently, there are some common characteristics — and they’re not all like what you might expect. For example, not everyone with depression cries all the time.
We asked therapists to identify these warning signs and share some tips on how to seek help if you spot them.
1. Your energy is low
Decreased energy may be associated with other conditions, such as insomnia or a cold. However, if you notice persistent fatigue without other physical symptoms, it may be a sign that you are developing depression.
Mary Tate, licensed clinical social worker and founder of Tate Psychotherapy, said this is one of the most noticeable symptoms at first. “For many people, high levels of fatigue and low energy are often the most noticeable,” Tate said. “Depression can affect our Sleep habits and increase stress, which affect serotonin and dopamine, which play a vital role in regulating our mood and energy.
2. You can’t concentrate
Some people have trouble concentrating in general, whether it’s because TikTok is just a click away or because they can’t distract themselves from work. Either way, having trouble concentrating can be a warning sign of depression.
“Depression affects behavioral activation and it’s how we all do things throughout our day,” Tate said. “Small tasks such as brushing your teeth and putting on clean clothes can seem like monstrous tasks.”
Other tasks that may seem difficult to focus on may include reading a book, doing homework, or staying attentive in a meeting.
3. You are more anxious than usual
Anxiety is normal and can even help us get things done. However, too much can be debilitating.
“Depression often accompanies anxiety and vice versa,” said Dr. Kristin Gill, psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Minded, an online psychiatry society designed for women. “Common symptoms seen in anxiety and depression include difficulty concentrating, sleep problems and fatigue. It is also important to note that women are twice as likely to develop both depression and depression. anxiety about men.
“Because anxiety and depression have overlapping symptoms, it is important to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional to determine if you have depression or anxiety, or both, as this will shed light on the treatment recommendations,” Gill said.
4. You isolate yourself socially
If you’ve turned down invitations to have drinks with friends after work or don’t feel like going to your weekly book club meeting, it could be because you’re developing depression.
“Depression can affect a person’s ability to feed themselves, let alone a relationship,” Tate said. “A person may notice low libido, a negative attitude, and isolation.”
This isolation can weaken relationships and friendships, which in turn can further fuel depressive feelings. It is not uncommon for other people to notice a person’s symptoms of depression before the person does.
5. Your hygiene suffers
brush your teethshowering and putting on deodorant are all hygiene-related tasks that usually don’t require much effort for people without depression.
According Jennifer Kelman, Certified Clinical Social Worker and Just answer mental health specialist, a person with depression may find it difficult to complete everyday tasks that once seemed easy.
“Just taking care of yourself and practicing good hygiene can feel too difficult and overwhelming as low energy takes over,” Kelman said.
Neglecting one’s hygiene can potentially lead to even more isolation and withdrawal from daily activities, which can in turn exacerbate depressive symptoms, creating a cycle of self-reinforcement.
6. You sleep too much or too little
Sleep is an important factor in maintaining physical and mental health.
“Insomnia is a common symptom of depression, with around 80% of people experiencing episodes of insomnia when they are depressed. Insomnia in depression typically includes difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and waking up too early,” Gill said. “Sleeping too much can also be a hallmark of depression, and some people experience both insomnia and hypersomnia during a single episode of depression.
7. You are more irritable than usual.
If you’ve noticed you’ve been more irritable or angry lately—or maybe someone else has brought it to your attention—that could be a warning sign of depression.
“Depression is often referred to as inward-looking anger,” Kelman said. “Those in pain can be irritable and often show signs of anger towards themselves because they are ‘depressed’ or ‘sad’.”
You may also notice that smaller, more trivial situations cause you to explode. Let’s say you accidentally dropped a drink or couldn’t change channels with the TV remote. These situations are frustrating, but if they cause an unwarranted reaction, it could be a sign of depression.
What to do if you experience these symptoms
If you or someone you love is showing any of these signs, it might be time to talk to a therapist or doctor who can help you manage these symptoms. (Of course, access to therapy isn’t always easy or affordable; here are some options to make it less expensive, and some other mental health support ideas.)
Small lifestyle habits can also make a huge difference. Texting a friend, going for a short walk, or ordering something nutritious for dinner can have a positive effect on your mood.
Depression is like any other medical condition that deserves care and treatment. Do not hesitate to ask for help.