Depression: Recognizing Unusual Symptoms
One reason depression can be hard to identify is that its signs can vary widely from person to person and sometimes be masked by atypical symptoms. For example, some people who are depressed may show it by acting disgruntled, resentful, or irritable. In fact, aggression including outright acts of violence can be indicative of hidden depression, according to a February 28, 2017, report in Psychiatric Times. Depression masquerading as anger may seem surprising at first, but not when you consider that several underlying factors, including alcohol or substance abuse and childhood trauma, have been linked to both.
Similarly, although its not clear why, a person who experiences anxiety is at high risk for developing depression, and vice versa. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that as many as 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression the same goes for people with depression having . Experts say there is often a genetic predisposition for these co-occurring disorders.
Depression may also manifest psychosomatically, meaning that instead of presenting first and foremost as a mood disorder, the dominant symptom may be things like vague aches, dizziness, headaches, , or , according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Complicating matters is that its often hard to know whether depression is causing the physical symptoms, or if the physical symptoms are causing depression.
Depression: What You Need To Know As You Age
If youre one of the more than 14.8 million American adults who experiences major depression, you may feel so bad that you cant get out of bed, be around the people you love or participate in activities that you usually enjoy. Actually, there are more than 50 different symptoms of major depression, ranging from the well-knowncrying and sadnessto those you might never associate with depression, such as anger, workaholism and back pain.
Depression is a disease that affects every aspect of a persons life, not just mood, says Johns Hopkins expert Andrew Angelino, M.D., Chair of Psychiatry at Howard County General Hospital. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second-leading cause of disability in the world, just behind cardiovascular disease.
People who are depressed are far more likely to have other chronic medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, back problems, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and to have worse outcomes. Untreated depression can even affect your immune response to some vaccines.
Depression is not just debilitating it can be deadly. An estimated one out of five people with depression will attempt suicide at some point.
Difficulty Experiencing Joy Or Connection
When were depressed, it can take all of the enjoyment out of the things we love and make it more difficult for us to connect to those closest to us. We may begin to lose interest in hobbies, friendships, schoolwork, social activities, sex or life in general. When this happens, we may find ourselves feeling isolated from friends, family members or others who care about us.
Recommended Reading: Tired All The Time But Not Depressed
When To Seek Professional Help
If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes arent enough, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. There are many effective treatments for depression, including:
Therapy. Consulting a therapist can provide you tools to treat depression from a variety of angles and motivate you to take the action necessary. Therapy can also offer you the skills and insight to prevent the problem from coming back.
Atypical Depression: Whats in a Name? Article on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of atypical depression.
Depression and Other Illnesses An overview of the mental and physical illnesses that often co-exist with depression, and how this impacts treatment.
Depression support & suicide prevention help
India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330
Suicide prevention help
In the U.S.: Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123
Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14
The Risk Of Isolation
It can sometimes be hard to explain your thoughts and feelings to others. You might find it difficult to talk about your depression and instead you might cut yourself off from other people. The more overwhelming your symptoms, the more isolated and lonely you might become.
Without treatment and support, depression can have an impact on your relationships, work, finances and overall health, so it’s important to get help as early as possible. See our pages on treatment and support for more information.
“It feels like I’m stuck under a huge grey-black cloud. It’s dark and isolating, smothering me at every opportunity.”
Read Also: How Can You Be Diagnosed With Depression
What You Can Do To Feel Better
When youre depressed, it can feel like theres no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or dont want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
Get moving. When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.
Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
What To Do About It
Some people do experience symptoms of depression in waves or intermittent episodes. This means you could experience days, even weeks, of relief and then notice your symptoms suddenly come back or intensify.
In other words, worsening depression is sometimes just the nature of depression but that doesnt mean its permanent, or that treatment wont help.
Professional support is the best way to improve symptoms of depression. If your symptoms fail to ease within a few days or continue to get worse, its best to talk to your therapist or doctor as soon as possible.
If youre already taking medication or working with a therapist, they can help you get guidance on next steps.
It never hurts to schedule an appointment as soon as you start to feel worse. You can always cancel later if you begin to feel better, but that way youll have the appointment if you need it and wont have to worry about availability.
Read Also: Vitamins That Help With Depression
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression
Depression can affect your emotions, mind and body. Depression symptoms include:
- Feeling very sad, hopeless or worried.
- Not enjoying things that used to give you joy.
- Being easily irritated or frustrated.
- Eating too much or too little.
- Changes in how much you sleep.
- Having a difficult time concentrating or remembering things.
- Experiencing physical problems like headache, stomachache or sexual dysfunction.
- Thinking about hurting or killing yourself.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, private emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You Feel Better Right Away But It Doesnt Last
Exactly how antidepressants work is still a mystery. The effects are thought to be related to changes in neurochemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine changes that usually take 2 to 12 weeks to set in, with a peak at 6 to 8 weeks. So, if you feel different immediately after starting a depression treatment, it could be a placebo effect, says the board-certified psychiatrist Joseph Hullett, MD, the senior medical director of OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions in Minnesota.
Sometimes that placebo effect wears off, and the actual effect of the antidepressant kicks in. Other times, the placebo just wears off, and the intended effects of the antidepressant are never felt. In this second case, it isnt that the medication stopped working its that the medication just didnt work for you in the first place.
RELATED: 12 Surprising Facts About Depression
Also Check: Suboxone For Anxiety And Depression
What To Do When Your Ptsd Starts Getting Worse
Healing from posttraumatic stress disorder is rarely a linear process. Just like any journey in life, recovering from PTSD has ups and downs. There will be times when things are good and times when things are bad. When PTSD starts getting worse, it can feel frustrating and scary. We know how to handle the good times in PTSD recovery, but what do you do when PTSD symptoms start increasing?
As someone who has had PTSD for around six-eight years, I’ve had my fair share of both bad and good times in my PTSD recovery. Getting through the rough patches isn’t easy, but it is possible.
Your Mood Or Energy Improves But Too Much
Depression medications can sometimes cause mood swings, especially in people who have a tendency toward bipolar disorder depression and mania, Hullett says. If you feel unusually elated or you become very terse with your spouse, feel noticeably more irritable, or have an uncharacteristic bout of road rage, you probably need to change your antidepressant, he advises.
RELATED: 9 Different Types of Depression
Don’t Miss: How To Live A Happy Life With Depression
Depression Symptoms To Look For
If you have feelings of depression that don’t seem to be getting better, or are getting worse, talk to your doctor. Your treatment plan may need to be changed. Here are a few common symptoms of depression to watch for:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
- Eating too much or too little
- Feeling sad, worthless, and/or having guilt
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Thinking about or trying to commit suicide
- Waking during the night or early in the morning
Undiagnosed and untreated depression can get worse and stop you from living a fulfilling life. So, if you have these symptoms for two weeks or more, or if you are being treated for depression and these symptoms are not getting any better, be sure to consult a mental health professional for help.
When Should I Seek Help
Talking with a mental health counselor or doctor can help prevent things from getting worse, especially if your symptoms stay for any length of time.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or feelings, get help right away.
It’s important to understand that feeling depressed doesn’t mean you have depression. That condition involves not only changes in mood, but also changes in sleep, energy, appetite, concentration, and motivation.
If you have physical symptoms like these and find yourself feeling depressed much of the time for days or weeks, see your doctor.
Read Also: Things To Do To Get Rid Of Depression
What Should I Do If Symptoms Of Depression Get Worse
Don’t ignore signs that your depression is coming back or getting worse. These are warning you that you may have a problem you need to do something about. Quick action is the antidote. Make a list of personal ways you have of coping when you start to feel bad. Print out the list and look at it often. It will help you take positive steps to keep your depression under control.
What Should I Call My Doctor About?
It’s very important that you call for help if you have thoughts of dying or of killing yourself. Call your doctor immediately if you have those feelings. Or call a local mental health hot line or mental health services in your community immediately. You can also call the National Suicide Survival Hot Line 24 hours a day at 1-888-SUICIDE.
Habits That Can Make Your Depression Worse
There are a number of risk factors associated with developing major depressive disorder, including temperament, environmental factors , genetics, and other mental health and medical disorders.1 Most of these triggers of depression are out of the realm of control for the depressed patient. There are, however, some habits within the realm of control that can worsen symptoms of depression.
Depression is a serious medical condition that can be treated with counseling, medication, or a combination of the two, but people struggling with depression can also make lifestyle changes to help alleviate symptoms. It helps to look at choices and habits that can contribute to depressive symptoms to understand how to make healthy choices during the treatment process.
Also Check: Is Spacing Out A Sign Of Depression
Are There Warning Signs Of Suicide With Depression
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Suicidal thoughts or intentions are serious. Warning signs include:
- A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression that gets worse
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
- Talking about suicide
- Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones
If you or someone you know shows any of the above warning signs, call your local suicide hotline, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room.
Are There Other Therapies To Treat Symptoms Of Depression
There are other treatments your doctor may consider. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment option for people whose symptoms don’t get better with medicine or who have severe depression and need treatment right away.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, involves using a noninvasive device that is held above the head to induce the magnetic field. It targets a specific part of the brain that can trigger depression.
With vagus nerve stimulation, or VMS, a pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted under the collarbone to deliver regular impulses to the brain.
How To Know When Your Depression Is Getting Better
As you begin treatment for depression, it may take a bit of time for you to feel like you’re back to your normal self. If your progress is slow, it’s natural to question whether you’re really improving. Your doctor can help you set some goals to use as benchmarks and assess your progress.
Does Coffee Make Anxiety Worse
Caffeine can go either way for people who experience anxiety. For some people caffeine, such as drinking a cup of coffee, can actually make them feel less anxious because it releases a feel good chemical in the brain called dopamine.
For others though, they find that coffee leads to a faster heartbeat which is a panic attack trigger. Some may find themselves dehydrated, because coffee is a diuretic, and they do not drink enough water as a result. And others stay up too late because they drink coffee late at night and then fail to get an adequate amount of sleep.
The coffee itself was not the mistake. But not recognizing how coffee – or any behavior – can contribute to anxiety is a mistake. A little bit of personal awareness and the willingness to change can make it easier to control your anxiety symptoms.
Also Check: How To Relieve Depression During Pregnancy
Improving Bipolar Symptoms Due To A Medication Change
About two months ago I changed up my bipolar medication slightly. Honestly, no part of me thought it was going to help. Ive had such a bad go of it that I figured a tweak here and a tweak there would amount to nothing in a brain as messed up as mine.
And when I saw my doctor last week I didnt have anything major to report. But then, when I thought about it, I realized that I hadnt been spending my nights sobbing and warding off suicidal and self-harm urges. I told him that my nights were pretty uneventful, actually. And he said, Well, we did change you medication last time.
Thats right. We did. I had actually been so convinced that it would do nothing that when it did do something, I didnt even notice.
Depression And Gender: Is It Different In Men And Women
When it comes to depression, there is a distinct gender gap. Depression is nearly twice as common in women as in men, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Hormonal and other biological factors play a role in this disparity. After all, only women can have premenstrual or postpartum depression. The same is true of antepartum depression which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates affects one in seven women.
But women also have higher rates of seasonal affective disorder, depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder, and persistent depressive disorder, note Harvard Health experts. The reasons for this are cause for speculation. Some researchers believe that environmental factors, such as the different and expectations that society places on women, are an important factor. Others theorize that men and women actually have depression at similar rates, but that women are more likely to talk about their feelings and seek help.
Also Check: What To Do When You Think You Have Depression