Many people think of depression as an intolerable sadness or a deep gloom that just won't go away. Yet depression can also be sneaky, disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you've had unexplained aches or pains, often feel irritable or angry for no reason, or cry at the drop of a hat -- you could be depressed.
Fortunately, you can be proactive with depression. Learn how these less obvious symptoms can reveal themselves and when you should seek out depression treatment.
Common Depression Symptoms
Common symptoms of depression include feeling sad, hopeless, or empty or having lost interest in the things that previously gave you pleasure. But other, less obvious symptoms also may signal depression, including:
- Anger, irritability, and impatience. You may feel irritated and angry at family, friends, or co-workers, or overreact to small things.
- Sleep problems. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may wake up very early in the morning. Or you may sleep too much and find it hard to get up in the morning.
- Anxiety. You may have symptoms such as anxiety, worry, restlessness, and tension. Anxiety and depression often occur together, even though they are two separate problems.
- Crying. Crying spells, crying over nothing at all, or crying about small things that normally wouldn't bother you may be signs of depression.
- Inability to concentrate. If you are depressed, you may be forgetful, have trouble making decisions, or find it hard to concentrate.
- Pain. If you have aches and pains that don't respond to treatment, including joint pain, back pain, limb pain, or stomach pain, they could be signs of depression. Many people with depression go to their doctor because of these types of physical symptoms, and don't even realize that they are depressed.
- Substance abuse. Having a drug or alcohol problem may hide an underlying problem with depression. Substance abuse and depression often go hand in hand.
- Appetite changes. You may have no desire to eat, or you may overeat in an effort to feel better.
- Isolation. You may feel withdrawn from friends and family -- right when you need their support the most.
Depression Symptoms: Men and Women May Differ
Not everyone has the same signs and symptoms of depression. In fact, men and women may experience depression differently. Women more often describe feeling sad, guilty, or worthless when they are depressed.
Men are more likely to feel tired, angry, irritable, and frustrated, and they often have more sleep problems. A man may feel less interested in hobbies, activities, and even sex. He may focus excessively on work in order to avoid talking with friends and family about how he feels. Men also may be more likely to behave recklessly and use drugs or alcohol to deal with depression. Some men with depression can become abusive. More women attempt suicide than men do, but men are more likely to succeed -- almost four times as many men die from suicide as do women.
Many men do not acknowledge feelings or symptoms of depression. They don't want to admit that something may be wrong or talk about their feelings. But men and women can both get better with treatment.