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  • Writer's pictureDr. Beth Marnix

10 Warning Signs You May Be Ignoring Your Depression Symptoms

Updated: May 22

Uncover the Hidden Clues and Take Control of Your Mental Well-being


I’m not depressed - I am tired.


I am not depressed - I am just kinda meh.


I am not depressed - I am just a homebody.


Do you say this to yourself? Do you shrug off not feeling good or like yourself? You are not alone. Many people keep going through the motions and don’t really stop, pause, and check in with themselves.


Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Depression affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. For some it is not a deep, dark, depressed mood… it is more like a persistent feeling of meh. You’re “ok”, things don’t really excite you much, but you are going through the motions. You go to school, work, see your friends, but you feel pretty unfulfilled and don't really enjoy life much like you used to. Depression can also contribute to a range of physical and emotional struggles that can affect your ability to function normally.


Depression can be difficult to recognize, as it can present differently in each person. However, it's crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and to seek proper treatment. Depression can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, including your relationships, work, and overall well-being. It's also highly treatable. Unfortunately, many people who are struggling with depression don't recognize the symptoms, or they may try to ignore them. This can make depression worse and lead to more severe consequences, including substance abuse, physical health problems, and even suicide. Therefore, recognizing the signs and seeking help is crucial to managing and treating depression effectively.


In this blog post, we'll explore 10 warning signs that may actually be a depression symptom. By recognizing these signs, you can take steps to address your mental health and get the support you need to feel better. So, let's get started.


Here are ten warning signs that you may be experiencing depression:

Feeling Sad or Empty for Extended Periods


Distinguishing between normal sadness and depression can be challenging, but there are some key factors to consider. Normal sadness is a natural emotional response to certain life events or circumstances. It is typically temporary and is often triggered by specific situations, such as a loss, disappointment, or a difficult life event. Normal sadness tends to fade over time as you process and adjust to the situation. It may still impact your mood and daily functioning, but it doesn't typically interfere with your overall sense of well-being or persist for an extended period. Everyone feels sad from time to time. Experiencing sadness is a normal human emotion.


Feeling sad or empty for extended periods is a significant warning sign of depression. It goes beyond experiencing temporary bouts of sadness. Depression is not just a passing feeling but rather a lingering state that affects your daily life. In depression, the sadness or low mood can persist for weeks, months, or even longer. This prolonged feeling of sadness or emptiness can permeate every aspect of life, affecting your mood, motivation, and overall well-being. It may feel like a heavy weight on your chest, making it difficult to find joy or interest in activities you once enjoyed. It may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.


Whether you are feeling low and down or are questioning if you are depressed, you do not have to go through it alone. Reach out to a mental health professional who can provide guidance, treatment options, and support on your journey towards healing and recovery.


Difficulty Sleeping

woman with red hair holding sleep mask

One of the most common symptoms of depression is difficulty sleeping. Depression can affect your sleep patterns in a variety of ways. If you're struggling with depression, You may find that you have trouble falling asleep at night, wake up frequently throughout the night, or wake up early in the morning and can't fall back asleep. You may also feel tired during the day, despite getting enough sleep the night before. Poor sleep can create a vicious cycle where poor sleep leads to worsened depression symptoms, and worsened depression symptoms lead to even poorer sleep.


If you're experiencing sleep problems, it's essential to address them as soon as possible. Lack of sleep can worsen depression symptoms and lead to other health problems like heart disease and obesity.


So what can you do to address sleep problems when you're struggling with depression? One recommendation is to establish a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends (I know I know I know.. Even weekends??? Yes, even weekends). And while I am at it, no lounging in bed… this includes reading, scrolling TikTok, and watching TV. You can also try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to help you fall asleep more easily (Check out our guided Mindfulness Audios!)


If these strategies don't work, talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT for Insomnia) or medication to help regulate your sleep patterns and manage your depression symptoms.


Loss of Interest in Activities


Another warning sign that you may be experiencing depression is a loss of interest in hobbies, interests, and activities that you used to enjoy. Depression can impact your ability to experience pleasure, and it can feel like you're going through the motions of life without actually enjoying anything. You may find that hobbies or interests that used to bring you joy now feel like a chore or no longer hold your attention. One day you blink and you realize your art supplies are covered in dust, you haven’t read a book in months, and when was the last time you planned a brunch outing? This can be distressing and frustrating, but it's essential to recognize that it's a common symptom of depression.


It's important to note that loss of interest is different from burnout. Burnout is a feeling of exhaustion and depletion that often stems from overworking or pushing yourself too hard. Loss of interest, on the other hand, is a symptom of depression that affects all areas of life, not just work-related activities. While burnout may require taking a break from work or reducing stressors in your life, depression requires specific treatments to address the underlying mental health condition.

two people with walking sticks

If you're experiencing a loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, it's important to take

steps to regain a sense of pleasure in your life. This may include trying new hobbies or revisiting old ones, even if you don't feel like it. (Did you just huff at the thought of doing something you don't want to? Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it. Trust me on this one… it’s called Behavioral Activation and is one step to help you become more engaged in your life and doing what is important to you. It can also be helpful to set small goals for yourself, such as going for a walk or meeting a friend for coffee, to help you feel a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.


If you're experiencing a loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, it's essential to take steps to address your mental health. This may include seeking therapy or medication to manage your depression symptoms. You may also benefit from trying new activities or revisiting old hobbies to see if they spark joy again.


Remember, it's okay to take things slow and not put too much pressure on yourself to immediately regain a sense of pleasure in activities. Be kind to yourself and recognize that recovery is a process. With time and support, you can find new ways to enjoy life again.


Low Energy Levels

woman, fatigued, laying in bed

Feeling tired, like you have little to no energy, or fatigued, is a common symptom of depression. You may find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the morning or feeling exhausted even after a full night's rest. It can be tough to summon the energy to complete daily tasks or engage in social activities, which can lead to a sense of isolation and further worsen depression symptoms. It's essential to recognize that low energy levels are not a personal failure or weakness, but rather a symptom of depression or an underlying mental health condition.


It's important to note that fatigue and lack of motivation often go hand-in-hand. When you're feeling tired and lacking energy, it's easy to feel unmotivated and not want to do anything. However, it's essential to recognize that avoiding activities and withdrawing from social situations can lead to worsened depression symptoms. Not doing things can create a cycle where fatigue leads to decreased motivation, which in turn leads to more fatigue… and you guessed it… a deeper sense of depression.


Depression may contribute to physical symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, and digestive problems, which can contribute to feelings of fatigue. If you're struggling with low energy levels, there are steps you can take to manage this symptom. First, if you have not already, you should discuss your fatigue and physical symptoms with your primary healthcare provider in order to rule out any potential physical or medical health related concerns.


Once medical reasons have been ruled out or beginning to be addressed, One of the most effective ways of addressing low energy levels is to engage in regular exercise or movement. Exercise has been shown to boost mood and energy levels in people with depression. Even something as simple as a daily walk can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood.


Other tips for managing low energy levels include practicing good sleep hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding substances like alcohol and caffeine that can disrupt sleep patterns and worsen depression symptoms.


It's important to recognize that managing low energy levels is a part of managing your depression. Seeking support from a healthcare professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, can help you develop a plan to manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being. Managing low energy levels is a process, and there may be days where you still struggle. Be kind to yourself, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be productive. Small steps and self-care can go a long way in managing depression symptoms.


Changes in Appetite


Depression can impact your appetite in various ways. You may find that you have no appetite at all and struggle with eating enough food, or you may find yourself eating more than usual. You may turn to food as a way to cope with emotions - including boredom.


Changes in appetite can also lead to weight changes. Depression can cause weight gain or weight loss, depending on the individual. Recognizing that changes in appetite and weight can be a sign of depression may help you pause and check in with yourself to see if this is a sign of depression, a medical concern, or something else. If you're noticing a rapid increase or decrease in weight, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional. Sudden weight changes can be a sign of a medical condition or a side effect of medication. Additionally, rapid weight changes can put a strain on your physical health and lead to other health problems.


If you're struggling with changes in appetite, there are steps you can take to manage this symptom. Avoiding emotional eating can help improve your relationship with food. Seeking support from a registered dietician (with a focus on Intuitive Eating) or mental health clinician who specializes in food/weight/body concerns can help you develop a plan to manage appetite and food symptoms of depression.


Negative Self-Talk


Depression can often lead to negative self-talk, which is a pattern of thinking that is critical and unkind towards oneself. Negative self-talk can make depression worse by reinforcing feelings of low mood and worthlessness.

woman looking at self in mirror

Negative self-talk can take many forms, such as self-blame, self-criticism, and self-doubt. These thoughts can be automatic and may not be based on reality. However, they can impact how you feel about yourself and your ability to manage depression symptoms.


It's important to recognize negative self-talk and work to reframe these thoughts. This involves challenging the negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts. For example, if you find yourself thinking "I'm a failure," try replacing this with "I may have made a mistake, but that doesn't make me a failure." Another way of disengaging with negative self talk or negative thoughts is by pausing when you notice that it is occurring, saying “ope! (that is my Midwest coming out!) There goes my brain again, giving me that thought.” By putting in the pause, you get to make the choice, do you carry on the thought train or do you notice that you are having negative thoughts and choose to direct your attention somewhere else. I know it is easier said than done, but with continued practice, redirecting your attention back to the present moment, instead of being caught up in your head, gets easier. I recommend checking out one of our guided mindfulness audios to help in this practice.


Physical Symptoms


Depression can manifest in physical symptoms that may be confusing or difficult to recognize. Some of these physical or somatic symptoms are headaches, fatigue, stomach problems, as well as tension and pain. Other physical symptoms include restlessness and being fidgety. Some people may also feel heavy or weighed down. It's important to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing physical symptoms before assuming they are related to depression. If you're experiencing unexplained physical symptoms, it's essential to talk to a medical healthcare professional to determine the cause.


It may not quite be a physical symptom, but many people experience a loss of sex drive or desire when they are depressed. People may experience a notable decline in their usual level of sexual desire or have little to no interest in engaging in sexual activities. Furthermore, depression can interfere with the physiological responses needed for sexual arousal. It may become challenging to become sexually aroused, leading to difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection or lubrication. As I mentioned earlier, depression can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, shame, or negative body image, which can further impact sexual functioning and contribute to sexual dysfunction.


It's important to understand that sexual dysfunction in depression is often interconnected with the emotional and psychological aspects of the condition. Seeking treatment for depression, such as therapy and/or medication, can help alleviate depressive symptoms, which may, in turn, improve sexual functioning.


Social Withdrawal

woman, isolated, staring out the window

Experiencing depression often leads people to isolate themselves from friends, family, and loved ones. This can contribute to feelings of loneliness, which in turn can worsen symptoms of depression. Social withdrawal can be a challenging symptom to manage, especially if you also feel like you have little energy, motivation, or desire to do anything but lay on the couch mindlessly scrolling social media or napping. Social engagement is essential and part of managing your depression and improving your overall well-being.


If you're experiencing social withdrawal, making small steps towards reconnecting with others is beneficial. This can be difficult when you're feeling low, but even small steps can make a difference. Start by reaching out to a friend or family member and arranging to spend time together doing something you enjoy (or used to enjoy, like brunch or going for a walk).


Being honest with loved ones about what you're going through may lessen the feeling that you are alone and isolated. Let them know that you're struggling with depression and that you may not be as social as usual. This can help them understand what you're going through and provide support. Maybe if it is hard for you to initiate conversations with others, you can ask them to. You can ask them to make a plan for hanging out, and maybe even pushing a little if you attempt to say no.

Not feeling like hanging with your friends? You can also build meaningful connections with others in different ways. Such as, joining a support group or volunteering. Remember, you don't have to go through depression alone.


Difficulty Concentrating


When depression takes hold, it can feel like your mind is foggy or cloudy, making it hard to concentrate. Simple tasks that used to be effortless may now require extra effort and focus. Your attention span may be shorter, and you may find yourself easily distracted or unable to stay engaged in activities or conversations. Depression can also affect our ability to remember things. You may find it challenging to recall recent events, conversations, or even details from your own past. This can be frustrating and contribute to feelings of confusion or a sense of being disconnected from your own life. These cognitive symptoms can significantly impact daily life - such as your relationships, work, and daily responsibilities.

man, stressed, trying to work and can't concentrate

One strategy for improving concentration is to break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This can help you stay focused and reduce feelings of overwhelm. Additionally, taking breaks throughout the day to move your body, breathe deeply, or engage in a calming activity can help to improve focus and reduce feelings of stress. Cognitive symptoms are a common aspect of depression, but they are not permanent. With appropriate treatment, including therapy, medication, and self-care strategies, cognitive functioning can improve alongside other depressive symptoms.


Thoughts of Self-Harm or Suicide


Depression can contribute a wide range of symptoms, including thoughts of self-harm or suicide. I am sure it is not surprising that thoughts of hurting oneself or killing oneself are connected to depression symptoms. While not everyone with depression experiences suicidal thoughts, they are more prevalent among individuals with severe or prolonged depressive symptoms. The feelings of hopelessness, despair, and emotional pain that often accompany depression can contribute to thoughts of wanting to escape or end one's life. Certain factors may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in individuals with depression. These can include a previous history of suicide attempts, family history of suicide, co-occurring mental health disorders (such as substance abuse or anxiety disorders), access to lethal means, social isolation, recent significant life stressors, and a lack of social support. It's crucial to recognize warning signs that may indicate an increased risk of suicide. These can include talking about or expressing feelings of wanting to die, withdrawing from social interactions or previously enjoyed activities, giving away possessions, sudden mood swings, increased substance abuse, displaying a sense of hopelessness, or engaging in risky behaviors. It's important to take any expression of suicidal thoughts or behaviors seriously.


It's crucial to recognize when these thoughts become dangerous and seek immediate help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, it's important to reach out for help right away. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 988 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Suicide Hotline, 988

At Bright Light Counseling Center, we understand how difficult it can be to talk about suicidal thoughts or urges. Our therapists are here to provide a safe and supportive space to discuss these feelings and work together to develop a plan for your safety.


Please don't hesitate to reach out if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Our team of compassionate therapists is here to support you and provide the resources you need to stay safe.


Remember, suicidal thoughts are not a reflection of weakness or personal failure but are a symptom of extreme distress. By seeking appropriate help and support, individuals can find the necessary resources and strategies to manage their depression and reduce the risk of suicidal thoughts. In Conclusion, depression is a treatable mental health condition, but recognizing the warning signs is the first step to getting the help you need. In this article, we've discussed 10 warning signs that you may be ignoring your depression.


Remember, if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's essential to seek professional help. Our team of compassionate therapists at Bright Light Counseling Center is here to support you and provide the resources you need to overcome depression.


As a reminder, depression is not a sign of weakness and seeking help is a courageous act. By taking the first step to reach out for support, you're taking control of your mental health and working towards a happier, healthier life.


Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and we hope that it has been helpful in recognizing the warning signs of depression. Remember, you're not alone, and we're here to support you every step of the way.


References

  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - Depression: Website: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

  2. Mayo Clinic - Depression: Website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007

  3. American Psychiatric Association (APA) - Depression: Website: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

  4. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Depression: Website: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression

  5. Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Website: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression



image of Dr. Beth with writing about her role

 

Disclaimer: Our content is on and related to the topic of mental health. The content is general information that may or may not apply to you. The content is not a substitute for professional services. This website does not contain professional advice, nor is any professional-client relationship established with you through your use of this website.

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