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Subtle Signs of Depression in Young Adults

Depression is a common mental health condition that can affect people of all ages, including young adults. 

About half of young adults report living with depression, and unfortunately, as many as 36% self-reported that their treatment needs are unmet. Other studies indicate that the actual numbers may be much higher since depression in young adults may be underdiagnosed and underreported. 

It’s not too surprising that depression can slide under the radar. While some signs of depression may be readily noticeable, there are often subtle indicators that can go unnoticed. Recognizing these subtle signs is crucial for early intervention and support. 

Read on as Dr. Hadi Estakhri highlights 10 subtle signs of depression in young adults and how our team at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, can help.

1. Changes in sleep patterns 

If you’re suffering with depression, you may experience changes in your sleep habits. This can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking during the night, or even oversleeping. Pay attention to these shifts (either more sleep or less sleep), as they can both be early signs of depression.

2. Loss of interest in hobbies 

Hobbies are good for your mental wellness, and they can even help lower your stress levels. Whether you enjoy knitting, painting, or lifting weights, making time for your hobbies is important. 

Unfortunately, depression can contribute to a loss of interest in your favorite activities. You may begin to withdraw from hobbies, social interactions, and other interests you used to be passionate about, and it can happen slowly over time. 

3. Increased irritability

Depression can lead to heightened irritability and mood swings. You may become easily frustrated, agitated, or quick to anger. These emotional changes can be subtle but significant. You might even mistake the mood swings for a lack of sleep or hormonal imbalances. 

4. Changes in eating patterns 

Depression can also impact eating habits. You might find that food just isn’t appealing. If your appetite nosedives, you might lose weight unintentionally. Lack of food can also contribute to increased mood swings.

On the other hand, depression can also lead to an increased intake of comfort foods. Just like with changes in your sleep, take note of deviations in either direction.

5. Brain fog

Depression can impair your cognitive functions. You may find it challenging to concentrate on tasks, make decisions, or remember details. These difficulties can affect academic or work performance. Don’t brush it off as “just” brain fog.

6. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

Depression often casts a shadow of guilt and worthlessness. You may constantly blame yourself for your struggles and feel like they’re burdensome to others. Because most people think of depression as feeling sad, these thoughts of guilt may sneak into your thoughts and go undetected as signs of depression.

7. Social isolation

Isolating from friends and family is a subtle yet critical sign of depression. You may withdraw from social engagements, avoid interactions, and become increasingly isolated. This too can happen slowly over time. You might decline just one event, but then that one event can turn into two or three.

8. Physical ailments

Depression isn’t just in your head. It can cause physical symptoms as well. Take note of any frequent headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension. All of these can be signs of depression that are easily mistaken for symptoms of other conditions. 

9. Constant fatigue 

It's one thing to feel tired after a late night, but persistent fatigue and a lack of energy are common in depression. If you feel physically and emotionally drained, it can make even simple daily tasks feel impossible.

10. Suicidal thoughts

While suicidal thoughts themselves aren’t subtle, the subtlety lies in how you may conceal or internalize these thoughts, which makes them less apparent to those around you. Suicidal thoughts are a critical and severe sign of emotional distress, and they should always be taken seriously and addressed promptly.

If you or someone you love is harboring suicidal thoughts, take immediate action by reaching out to a mental health professional here at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health or the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. 

Get the help you need

If you suspect you’re dealing with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Estakhri. Whether you’re dealing with postpartum depression, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or seasonal affective disorder, Dr. Estakhri is experienced in diagnosing and treating all types of depressive episodes in young adults.

Depending on your unique situation, you may benefit from medication, lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, ketamine therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Depression is hard, but you don’t have to fight alone. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at 949-945-0927. You can also book an appointment online any time day or night.

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