When most people think of depression, we think of feeling the complete terribly sad or hopeless. Having no interest in anything, no motivation to make any changes, having no energy to take care of themselves, and thinking about suicide are commonly understood as signs of major depression.
But there are other ways that depression expresses itself that aren't as commonly known, such as:
over-eating or loss of appetite
random, unexplained aches and pains
irritability, high frustration, and low patience
claiming frequent boredom
easily overwhelmed by simple, low value decisions
Let's look at these 5 uncommon signs of depression one at a time.
Changes in Appetite
Ever hear of the term comfort food? It relates to eating to achieve a sense of emotional well-being. Almost always comfort foods are high in calories, fat, sugar and simple carbohydrates -- desserts, breads, and pastas are prime examples.
Turning to comfort foods once in a while as a celebration or when you've hard a hard day, or to feel better after an argument or disappointment doesn't necessarily mean you are depressed. But when your daily diet consists mostly of comfort foods, it could be a sign that something else is going on with your emotions.
Likewise, if you can't eat when you are upset, or don't feel good about yourself, and you're losing a lot of weight as a result, this too can be a sign of depression.
Either way, counseling can help you cure the cravings or regain your appetite for healthy, energy-giving foods.
Aches and Pains
If you're having muscle cramps, headaches, stomach aches, back aches, stiff neck, painful joints, and so on, and your doctor can't find a cause, and medication doesn't help much, you could be depressed and not realize it.
The body reacts to emotions by releasing certain hormones and neurochemicals into the bloodstream. Over time, when the emotional state is not re-balanced, these hormones and neurochemicals can provoke a lowering of the pain perception threshold. The depressed person becomes more sensitive to feeling aches and pains than when mind, emotions, and body are in harmony.
Counseling helps reduce these random aches and pains by restoring mental and emotional balance.
Sometimes there is good reason to get upset or annoyed with unusual situations. But when having no patience is your typical approach to the world around you, it could signal an underlying depression.
Or feeling highly frustrated all the time, with everyone and everything, and not being able to shrug things off can also be an aggressive form of feeling hopeless, as if nothing ever goes your way or gets done right. If you wonder if you have an anger issue, or others tell you that you do, there could be some depression going on that needs counseling.
Often people who are depressed will say they are bored with their job, with their relationships, where they live, or some other major aspect of their lives.
Because you still laugh at sit coms on TV, or meet friends on the weekends, or adequately fulfill your performance requirements at work, you might be surprised to think of yourself as depressed.
But inside you might be feeling lost, or like you are feeling the satisfaction with life that others talk about. For you, there's just no excitement about anything, and you just feel bored with it all. If that sounds familiar, you might be sliding into a depression. Counseling will help you figure out if you are, and what to do about it.
Overwhelmed by Simple Decisions
One of the things that depression does is to make it harder to think clearly. So little decisions that don't even seem like decisions -- such as what to wear on a date, or whether to buy this brand of coffee or that, can feel monumentally challenging.
When you're depressed, little things that have almost no value beyond mere personal preference, suddenly seem extremely important. Your cognitive process gets easily overwhelmed with making the right choice, or with not making a mistake, and as a result you can become paralyzed with the mental dilemma of not knowing what to do.
Counseling is excellent at helping you regain your sense of priority and not be stymied by the myriad of small decisions you have to make each day.
If you recognize any of these 5 signs of hidden depression and want some help, call
Pandolfi Counseling Associates at 215-834-3733.