You tell yourself that you’re just tired, forgetful, a little off your food – you’re not suicidal or in bed all day, so how could you possible be depressed? The reality is that many of us don’t understand what depression looks like and that it doesn’t have to be severe to cause problems.
According to statistics, between eight and 12% of us will go through a period of depression this year, however many will never be diagnosed. While awareness of mental health concerns is increasing, many of us will continue living with the symptoms of depression without realising.
“People don’t quite understand that you can still function and have depression. A lot of people think if you have depression you’re going to quit your job and so on, but many people continue to work, continue to function but to a very different degree. You don’t have to be suicidal to be depressed. You can just be clinically depressed and think, ‘This is the way my life is.'”
– Clinical psychologist, Angel Adams.
While no two cases of depression are the same, the following warning signs may be present:
Feeling low is perhaps the most obvious and well-known sign of depression. Typically this feeling will be worse in the morning and may ‘flip’ in the afternoon. Self-blame and low self-esteem are also common accompaniments.
Lack of interest
Know as ‘anhedonia’ in the psychology world, a lack of interest and lack of enjoyment is another common sign of depression. Activities that once got you excited may now leave you feeling flat and you may feel uninterested in what’s going on around you.
Loss of appetite
Some people with depression will turn to food for comfort, but more commonly a loss of appetite is reported. This comes under the anhedonia umbrella – a lack of interest can lead to a lack of interest in food and taking care of yourself.
Loss of libido
Unsurprisingly when you’re feeling low and uninterested, your sex life often takes a back seat. There may also be a biological reason for this as depression has been linked to hormonal changes.
If you’re feeling low you may find yourself spending more time in bed, however you may find it difficult to get enough sleep. Those with depression often complain of wakefulness and disturbances to their sleeping pattern.
When you are suffering from depression your susceptibility to pain may increase. This can lead to more aches and pains or headaches that don’t go away with treatment.
A depressed mind can become ‘over-general’ which makes it hard for you to recall details. If, for example, you have lost your job you would normally think about all the things you need to do to get back on track (write up your CV, register with recruitment agencies etc.). If you lose your job and you are depressed however, your mind might stop at ‘I need to get a job’, making it hard for you to problem solve and get past the general problem.
Psychologists say when you are depressed you are likely to have an ‘elevated evidence requirement’. This means you may need reassurance before making decisions, as you’ll struggle to trust your gut feelings.
If you recognise the symptoms above you are advised to visit your GP to rule out physical illness and receive a diagnosis.