Depression is like an addiction in that it sneaks up on a person, insidiously working on the brain to drag it into the depths of darkness while they’re focused on relieving its symptoms with drink or drugs. Most people believe the signs of depression to be very obvious and that it’s characterized by debilitating sadness. However, many of the symptoms are much more subtle and influence someone’s lifestyle and personality as a whole over time, in ways that are not always recognizable as depression.
Not all symptoms of depression are obvious and there is still a wide misconception that someone should be able to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘buck up.’ The fact is, however, that depression is a treatable medical condition and recognizing its symptoms is the first step to combating the very real and tangible effects of the mental illness.
Here are some more surprising symptoms of depression that can often lead to the condition going untreated:
Recurring or chronic pain is associated with mental illness as they share some of the same neurotransmitters and around 75% of people suffering from depression also deal with chronic pain on a daily basis. Pain is often the trigger for prescription drug abuse as people seek relief with stronger doses of already strong drugs that are opiate-based, such as Vicodin. Relentless pain can, in turn, cause the negative mind state of depression which can then be exacerbated by drug or alcohol abuse.
When someone has depression, they might seek comfort in everything and that includes food. Unfortunately, although certain comfort foods can increases levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin in the brain and give a temporary ‘feel-good factor’, the downside is inevitable weight gain if this eating behavior is as a result of depression. As with addictive substances, eating calorific food gives a temporary respite to any bad feelings or negative thoughts and immediately after, only guilt remains. The feelings of relief followed by guilt and shame are sufficient to perpetuate depression unless the symptoms are recognized and specialist treatment for depression is received.
A Short Temper
One sign of depression is when the slightest mishap becomes an enormous issue that leads to an outburst of hostility. Sufferers of depression often report a ‘red mist’ anger that descends after the smallest of triggers as being one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with. It is because of this constantly-suppressed anger that many people with depression have damaged relationships with those close to them. The other negative aspect of having a short temper is that it distances someone suffering from depression from the people that can help them the most.
Many people with depression report a feeling of being completely numb or apathetic about life. This can be a dramatic change in people who have always been particularly active or sociable and a sign of underlying depression. Losing enthusiasm for things that they were once passionate about and a generally defeatist attitude about life where excuses are constantly being made to get out of social events or even work is a classic symptom of mental illness.
Turning to Drink or Drugs
When someone is suffering from depression they can feel completely isolated and misunderstood by those around them. For this reason, it is not uncommon for sufferers to self-medicate with drink or drugs to make these negative feelings go away. Without specialist depression treatment, dependence on alcohol or substances can be developed over time and sufferers families pushed away by aggressive and angry displays of behavior.
Inability to Concentrate
A common thing for people with depression to engage in is daydreaming. It’s a form of escapism for someone not able to cope with their reality but can also lead to performing poorly at work or school or not even turning up at all. Although most people think daydreaming about a better plane of existence can boost one’s mental state, for someone with depression it can actually make the symptoms worse. The more built up a person’s life becomes in their imagination, the harsher the reality of their lives becomes as the contrast becomes highlighted.
Neglecting Personal Grooming
Someone with depression is consumed with apathy to the extent they become less bothered about how they appear to others. Someone who may have been meticulous about matching a shirt and tie may move into the same pair of sweats for days on end and that can signal they have depression. Usually, how a person appears shows how they are feeling about themselves which is why someone with depression no longer places emphasis on their appearance as it mirrors their mental distress.
Depression manifests itself in many ways although to someone close to a sufferer, the signs are usually very clear. The illness is characterized by personality disorders that act as red flags including the signs listed above and as depression tightens its grip, the symptoms become more obvious.
It is always important to accept that depression is a mental illness that can be treated. Depression treatment changes the way messages are processed and signals responded to in the brain and allows a sufferer to develop their own coping mechanisms for a healthier future. If misdiagnosed or untreated, depression can lead to more complicated conditions including drug and alcohol addiction.