According to the CDC, 6.7 percent of the United States population, or approximately 14.8 million people, experience depression in a given year. Most people know the classic symptoms of depression: crying, insomnia or oversleeping, and over- or under-eating. Depression isn’t the same for everyone, and each person has a completely different experience due to various combinations of symptoms varying in severity. If your prevalent symptoms don’t match the stereotypical symptoms of depression, it can be hard to know what you’re going through. Here are some less common symptoms of depression that are often kept quiet.
Working too much
While some people with depression experience fatigue so severe that they can’t get out of bed, others become workaholics. Working too much is often an attempt to hide or mask the fact that something is wrong. It also happens when you’re feeling out of control. For many, turning to work offers an opportunity to feel in control of something in their life. Some even begin to feel addicted to working because it offers a distraction to depression. It’s important to recognize when you’re choosing work as a distraction. Although it can be healthy at times, overworking yourself will cause you to become more stressed, further feeding into depression.
A common symptom of depression, loss of interest or enjoyment in the things you once enjoyed, is usually grouped in with feelings of sadness and loss. It’s easy to underestimate the severity of losing interest. In reality, most things will stop sounding fun. Even when they do sound fun, they won’t be worth the effort of going out and socializing. You’ll begin to drop activities and hobbies one by one, including simple things, like hanging out with your friends. The least demanding tasks (watching TV, napping) are the only left that seem doable, and it seems impossible to drag yourself out of the house.
Aches and pains
The majority of people don’t realize that depression can be accompanied by physical symptoms. More mental health professionals are beginning to consider pain symptoms as signs of depression. People with depression may feel stomach cramps, digestive problems, and nausea, while others feel tenderness and skin sensitivity to muscle pain. If you’re constantly in pain or aching, visit your doctor to rule out any other medical diagnosis. If your symptoms don’t improve and there is no diagnosis accounting for them, it’s likely that they’re being caused by depression.
Fatigue and trouble thinking clearly often go hand in hand. According to a study by the University of Michigan, depression affects parts of the brain on brain scans, accounting for the fuzzy effect. In the study, 612 female participants, two-thirds of which had a mood disorder, were given cognitive tests involving reacting to letters flashing on a screen. Women with mood disorders performed poorly on cognitive tests, lagging behind women who had no mental health problems. In brain scans, depressed participants had higher activity in the right posterior parietal cortex, which associated with executive function (memory, problem solving, reasoning).
In order to beat these symptoms of depression, it’s crucial to look at your schedule and find out whether you’re overwhelmed. Chronic stress reduces cognitive ability. Time management, adequate sleep, and nutrition help battle these symptoms and enhance mental functioning. Remember, it’s easy to second guess yourself with regard to the symptoms you’re feeling. Seek out teen mental health centers near you, or try talking to your doctor about your symptoms to get a referral to a therapist. The journey isn’t an easy one, but don’t lose hope. Regardless of what symptoms you’re feeling, you’re not alone in this.