When you think of depression, you likely think of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest. Indeed, these symptoms of major depressive disorder are the hallmarks of the condition, but there are other signs that point to a potential problem.
To illustrate the many ways in which depression can manifest itself, Dr. Diana Ghelber and the highly skilled mental health team here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry want to focus on the less-discussed symptoms so that you’re better able to recognize the condition.
Depression at a glance
More than 17 million adults in the United States suffer from depression, a disorder in which your brain has trouble with mood regulation, leaving you in a seemingly inescapable and dark place.
The exact cause of depression still isn’t understood, but researchers agree that the malfunction of mood regulation can be influenced by genetics, environment, trauma, and illness.
Since we don’t know the exact cause-and-effect mechanism, there’s no single diagnostic test that can confirm or rule out depression, which leaves us to diagnose the problem based mostly upon symptoms.
Lesser known signs of depression
Diagnosing depression can be tricky since no two peoples’ brains are alike, which means the ways in which depression can manifest itself can vary widely.
What we can say is that most people do experience the primary symptoms of depression, including overwhelming sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and a general lack of interest in life.
Aside from these side effects of depression, many people report other symptoms, which include:
Reduced brain function
Some people refer to their brains being in a “fog” or “haze” when they’re in the middle of a depressive episode. This fog can affect cognitive function, such as remembering and focusing, which can greatly impact how they’re able to function.
Depression can often affect your appetite — in both directions. Many people with depression overeat and gain weight or, at the other end of the spectrum, stop eating and experience significant weight loss.
The link between depression and pain is a two-way street. People with depression are three times more likely to develop chronic pain, such as muscle aches and headaches, which may be due to the fact that depression and pain perception share many of the same neural pathways in your brain.
Going in the other direction, people with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety.
Many people with depression self medicate with drugs or alcohol — in fact, 1 in 5 people with a mood disorder also have a substance use disorder.
This symptom is perhaps not all that lesser known since it occurs in more than 90% of people with depression. The fatigue is typically all-consuming, and you lack the energy for even the simplest of tasks.
If you recognize any of the symptoms we describe above, it might be time to seek our help. We offer some very effective treatments for people with depression, including transcranial magnetic stimulation, ketamine infusion therapy, medications, and psychotherapy.
To free yourself from depression, contact one of our offices in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up a consultation.