Depression does not often appear in the ways we expect.
In fact, high functioning depression is far more widespread than its can’t-get-out-of-bed counterpart. It is also far sneakier. Because it is quiet, this form of depression often goes undetected, untreated, or both.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Here are seven subtle signs of depression that can tip you off before the disease escalates.
1. Your grooming habits have changed.
Everyone has a different baseline to work from here. In a healthy state, you may take an hour to get ready, or you might be out the door in ten minutes. For this reason, the tendency to let personal care slide will look different for each person. One woman might start opting for a baseball cap rather than curling her hair. Another may quit showering altogether. It’s the change that is important here, rather than the habits themselves.
2. You have become indecisive.
We make countless small decisions every day. Cereal or yogurt? Country roads or the interstate? The green shirt or the black one? When these small choices start to feel overwhelming, depression may be the culprit.
3. You are daydreaming more and more.
While daydreaming can be a valuable creative tool, too much of it is often a sign of depression. When we are happy, we become firmly rooted in our blissful reality. When we are not, we often turn to fantasy for an escape. Pay attention to your daydreams. They may lead to to the root of your unhappiness.
4. You immerse yourself in social media.
Through websites like Facebook, we have the power to construct the vision of the life we wish we had. It also allows us to escape from our reality. Besides the obvious trouble with this dynamic, too much time on social media encourages us to compare ourselves with others. This nearly always leads to dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.
5. You start drinking a little bit earlier each night.
Almost one third of people who suffer from depression also develop a problem with alcohol. Alcohol can contribute to depression, causing this behavior to become cyclical. You don’t need to be an alcoholic for this dynamic to come into play. Any marked increase in drinking could be a sign that your depression is getting to you.
6. Your clothes are tighter.
Studies have confirmed conclusively that depression often leads to weight gain. We eat because of stress. We lose the motivation to exercise. We don’t feel like cooking, so we hit the drive-thru window. Sadly, this weight gain can cause lower self-esteem and further feelings of hopelessness. Like alcohol use, overeating can become a cyclical behavior in depression.
7. Your back – or your stomach, or your head – hurts all the time.
Research shows that about 75% of people with depression also suffer from chronic pain. Although this pain can be the cause of depression, depression itself makes us more sensitive to physical pain than a healthy person would be. Additionally, when we take great lengths to hold in our emotions, they often begin to manifest in a physical way.
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold – with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer,” explained Barbara Kingsolver. Ignoring your depression will not make it go away. If you see your own behaviors described above, do not hesitate to get help. Here are some good resources to get you started.