Depression is not just about having suicidal thoughts. Mental health issues are usually more complicated than that, with emotions and personality changes involved. And sometimes, you may not even be aware that you may be suffering from depression. Jessica Lamb, a psychotherapist and mediator at Relationship Matters clues you in to the seven signs of depression you might not know about.
“Acknowledging that you are not yourself is an important step towards helping to deal with depression,” she says. “It can help to talk to friends or family about your concerns, even if you’re not sure why you feel this way, or to seek professional help by talking to a trained counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist.”
1. Sleeping Too Much
You spend too much time in bed and, when you’re out of it, you’re not in a great mood. “Changes in sleep patterns are a common sign,” says Jessica. “Spending too long in bed, increasingly feeling lethargic and lacking energy to get up and on with the day can indicate a prolonged low mood.
“Giving yourself a reason to get up can help – like meeting friends or a class of some sort. It’s also important to recognise how much sleep you would normally need. Seven to eight hours is sufficient for most adults, so make sure you don’t consistently sleep for longer than this, as too much sleep can also affect energy levels.”
2. General Neglect
It could be as simple as not bothering to brush your hair before leaving the house and even as potentially dangerous as not buckling your seat belt when you’re in the car. People who don’t bother looking after themselves ‘on the outside’ could be showing signs of something that’s wrong ‘on the inside’.
3. Eating Differently
It’s a bit tricker to look out for this symptom as there are two opposite ways you could go with this – you’re eating too much or not eating at all. The main thing to note is that your eating habits have changed, and not just for a day or two.
“Changes in eating habits can also indicate a low mood – either eating a lot more, sometimes known as comfort eating, or losing your appetite, can indicate something is wrong,” says Jessica.
4. A New Addiction
Doing something in excess, for example, drinking or gambling, could be a sign of depression. This is especially so if your addiction involves the internet. Whether it’s social media, online games or chatrooms that take up your time, the need to compulsively be online is a way to escape the real world. If you have more virtual interactions than you do in real life, you might have a problem.
5. Feeling Very Angry
Depression is not just about feeling sad, there are a variety of emotions associated and the common thread is the inability to control them well. If your emotions are all over the place, it’s a sign that you could be depressed.
And getting angry a lot is another. “Feeling unusually angry and losing your temper quickly can be a sign of depression as the person may be feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and so quickly reacts to situations that seem to pile on more pressure,” says Jessica. “Taking notice of your mood swings and what triggers a sudden reaction can help to identify the underlying issue.”
A little daydreaming never hurt anyone but if your mind is constantly wandering, you could be depressed. Living in the present makes us happiest and having to find ways to escape reality is a symptom of a mood problem.
7. Constantly Cancelling Meetings
Making plans then usually not feeling up to it when the time comes isn’t a good habit. “Feeling anti-social or losing interest in daily activities can also be a sign that a person’s mood is low,” says Jessica. “If a friend is consistently dropping out of meet-ups then you may want to go to them and talk about what’s going on in their life at the moment.”