When you think about depression, you probably imagine someone feeling sad or listless for long periods of time. But depression has a variety of symptoms, some of which you might not intuitively associate with a depressed mood. The NIH estimates that 16.2 million U.S. adults experience at least one major depressive episode, but only about half of them are treated for it.
By becoming aware of the more unusual symptoms of depression, you can help yourself or someone you love get treatment to prevent the disease from progressing and to restore a sense of well-being.
Dr. Hadi Estakhri, an experienced and expert psychiatrist at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, shares five uncommon depression symptoms:
Being angry, irritable or aggressive
Although the word “depression” conjures up a depressed or repressed mood, some people with depression deal with their uncomfortable feelings by striking out at the world or at those around them. Men, especially, are most likely to express depression with anger or aggression. But women do it, too.
Although anger isn’t often listed as a depressive symptom for adults, doctors have long recognized it as a depressive symptom in adolescents. If you find yourself lashing out at co-workers or your kids, or if you lose your temper or pick fights, you may be depressed. Even “grumpiness” could be a sign of depression, particularly in older men.
Losing interest in sex
As you age and your hormones shift, you may experience a decrease in your libido, which can be rectified with hormonal therapies and other treatments. But if you lose interest in sex altogether, or just don’t experience pleasure anymore, you may be depressed.
Women who lose interest in sex may avoid being touched or simply decide they don’t want to be intimate. Men who are depressed may experience erectile dysfunction and therefore avoid intimate situations due to performance anxiety.
Sleeping too much or too little
If you’re not able to fall asleep easily at night, wake up frequently, or wake up too soon, you may have insomnia. Not getting enough sleep prevents your brain and other organs from getting the restorative rest they need. You may feel tired and listless throughout the day, or have trouble concentrating or remembering things.
Both insomnia and sleeping too much are signs of depression. If you don’t want to get up in the morning, have a habit of oversleeping, or don’t sleep enough, you may be depressed.
Taking high risks
Speeding down the highway. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Getting drunk or high. You might not think of depression as being associated with high-energy, high-risk behaviors, but one way that some men (in particular) and women deal with depression is through putting themselves in danger.
High-risk activities release the hormone adrenaline, which can mask feelings of sadness or anger. Some high-risk behaviors may be associated with suicidal impulses. And, of course, the risks themselves could lead to injury or death.
Having unexplained pain
Headaches, stomach aches, and other types of persistent pain that have eluded diagnosis may be caused by depression. Because depression affects the way your brain functions, you might actually interpret pain signals differently than someone who isn’t depressed.
Men and women with depression are also susceptible to having multiple, unexplained physical symptoms. Chronic pain itself, of course, can also lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness. Pain and depression can become interlocked in a vicious cycle without treatment.
Depression isn’t something you need to live with or just “get over.” If you’ve had any symptoms of depression that have lasted for more than two weeks, getting treatment can give you relief. Call us for an evaluation or use the online form to book an appointment.