Depression is so much more than feeling down — it can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of a person’s life. And, sadly, even people in the throes of a deep, debilitating depression don’t always realize they have it, and only one in three actually seek treatment for it. For many people, the stigma surrounding mental illness runs deep, and can make it difficult to recognize the more common symptoms. Depression can also manifest itself in less obvious ways. Read on for some of subtler signs of depression.
1. Your House Is a Mess.
They might not be making it on television for their out-of-control-clutter, but people experiencing depression often struggle with getting even the most basic things done, housework included. It can become a vicious cycle — when you’re depressed, you don’t want to clean, and the messier your home becomes the more overwhelmed you feel.
2. Colors Appear Dull.
Research has shown that, for people experiencing depression, colors appear less vibrant than they do for people who aren’t experiencing depression. That means that, for depressed people, the world literally appears to be duller and grayer — and the more depressed a person is, the worse it can get.
3. Your Body Aches.
It’s not just your mind that hurts when you’re experiencing depression; for many people, physical symptoms manifest, too. One of the most common physical symptoms of depression is unexplained, chronic pain. About 2/3 of people diagnosed with depression experience some sort of chronic pain, and the pain can in turn make depression worse. Though the exact reason why chronic pain is linked to depression isn’t quite clear, it may be related to the fact that people with depression often have higher levels of cytokines, a protein that can promote inflammation.
4. You’re Having Trouble Remembering Things.
Depression can wreak havoc on your brain, including the part of the brain that stores memory. It can also change your perception of past events — depressed people tend to more easily recall sad memories than happy ones, which further worsens their depression. Depression also impacts your ability to focus, and when you can’t focus on information, it’s harder to recall it later.
5. You Won’t Log Off
Can’t shut off your computer or smart phone? When Internet use gets out of control — enough to negatively impact your daily routines — it may be a sign of depression.
6. You’re Neglecting Your Basic Hygiene.
For most healthy people, basic hygiene is so second nature that it can be difficult to understand how it can become a challenge for people dealing with depression, because, as simple as it may seem, these tasks can prove to be Herculean for people with depression. All too often, though, ignoring personal hygiene goes hand-in-hand with depression. People with depression tend to withdraw themselves from social activities and the way that others perceive them. When that happens, self-care can fall by the wayside.
7. You’re Having Trouble Making Decisions.
Deciding on things both big and small can be difficult for people experiencing a bout of depression. This is closely associated with the fact that people with depression are less likely to get pleasure from positive situations and are more likely to feel bad after negative outcomes.
8. Your Digestive Track is Going Haywire.
People with depression often complain of poor digestion. Research by doctors at the Stanford University School of Medicine even suggests that gastric irritation early in life may cause psychological issues in adulthood. Incredibly, many people seeking treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have also been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, and depression can make IBS symptoms worse.
If exercise and healthy eating aren’t helping your symptoms, then it’s time to seek help. If any of these symptoms are persistent in your life, talk to your doctor. Don’t let the stigma of mental illness keep you from getting help.