National statistics indicate depression is a condition that affects one in 10 Americans, but is that really accurate? Many mental health specialists said they believe the numbers are off. They tell us that some people are too embarrassed to admit that they are depressed so their depression is never reported. There is also a segment of the population that doesn’t realize that they are even suffering from depression.
Psychologists report that depression affects so many people that it is often called “the common cold” of mental illness. It can be paralyzing for those who suffer from it, it can destroy relationships, cause problems at work, lead to suicide, and it costs the American economy billions each year. A study published this past winter in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicated that depression in the U.S. is “the leading cause of disability for people aged 15-44, resulting in almost 400-million disability days per year.”
Getting people to reach out for help is the first step to a better tomorrow, but what about those who don’t know they need to get help? Psychologists warn that depression doesn’t always look and feel like crippling sadness. This means there are a lot of people out there who have no idea that they are depressed even though the symptoms could be staring them in the face. Below, we look at four surprising symptoms of depression.
Four hidden symptoms of depression
1. Physical pain
When we are in physical pain, it is a sign that something isn’t right physically, or so we think. Doctors say that depression and pain share some of the same biological pathways and neurotransmitters. This means the problem could be psychological. Seventy-five percent of people with depression experience pain. As an example, a Canadian study shows people with depression are four times more likely to have intense neck and back pain than those who are not depressed.
2. Weight gain or loss
If you find your pants are getting a lot tighter and your eating habits have changed you could be trying to fill an emotional void. Certain foods can raise levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin. The opposite can happen as well; some people have no interest in food and lose a lot of weight. Studies show that high levels of stress and sadness make it very difficult to lose weight or stick to weight-loss programs.
3. Can’t make up your mind
According to research conducted at Columbia University, we make close to 70 conscious decisions each day. Most of these decisions are pretty easy, such as should I read or go for a walk? What should I wear today? Or should I get up or hit the snooze button again? When it becomes difficult to make these simple decisions, it can be a sign of depression.
4. Irritable and angry
Some people have a short fuse or are known to have a bad temper. However, if this doesn’t normally describe you and then you become extremely frustrated and angry, especially when little things start to bother you, it can be a sign of turning depression inward. Psychologists say that depression manifesting itself as anger is very common.
There are other surprising symptoms like a low sex drive, obsession over activities such as shopping, excessive drinking or spending time on social media platforms, which can all indicate you are withdrawing and sinking into depression. It’s true that if you love to shop or your libido is suffering, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are depressed, but doctors point out it is important to step back and take an honest look at your life – see if more than one of the symptoms apply to you.
Recent research suggests that beyond our physical well-being, there is another reason that we should be treating depression early. Fifteen research institutes around the world, including from the U.S., Europe and Australia pooled their study results and concluded that the more episodes of depression a person has, the more chance there is that the part of the brain responsible for memories and emotions will shrink.
When it comes to depression, there are many different kinds: Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, occurs mainly through the winter months. Postpartum depression affects new mothers and Major Depressive Disorder is depression lasting more than two weeks where a person feels hopeless, sad, lack of interest in life and where it impacts mental and physical health.
These are just some of the forms of depression out there but there are many more.
As you age life begins to get more serious, little by little as stress begins to pile on. All of the little stresses begin to add up and your life may not only become stressful, it may become dull and boring. This can lead to serious emotional and mental health issues including depression. Continue reading.