5 Things That Don’t Look Like Depression… But Are

surprising depression symptoms

Unsplash/Maranatha Pizarras

Mental health can be one of the most elusive parts of wellness because unless a person decides to speak up about the struggle they’re experiencing, many of the physical symptoms aren’t so obvious. In fact, a lot of the signs can seem like another issue entirely.

But if we’ve learned anything from tragic celebrity news to the pain experienced much closer to home, it pays off to not only know what to look for, but also step up and do something about it. By simply showing an interest to learn more about depression as a mental health issue, you have the ability to help friends and family members who are working through difficult times and just don’t know how to communicate about it.

We spoke with Laurie Spataro, MA, MCAP, ICADC, SAP, CET, a registered mental health counselor intern and program director at The Palm Beach Institute, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility, to learn more about signals that don’t necessarily look like depression but can be exactly that. Here’s what she suggests that we all be mindful of in ourselves and others.

1. Unusual Sleeping, Eating Or Drinking Patterns

When an individual is depressed, their normal patterns of eating, sleeping and drinking (alcoholic beverages) will most often change. Sleep may significantly increase and at times of the day when your loved one would not typically sleep. Eating may also increase — or paradoxically decrease. Consumption of alcohol may significantly increase as well. And in an individual who may be depressed, consumption of alcohol will also increase the levels of depression they experience.

2. Conversations With A Focus On The Meaning Of Life Or Death

An individual whose depression is masked or hidden may be unaware of what’s happening to them, but their typical conversation topics can dramatically change, veering toward philosophical subjects that are unusual for them. Statements about death or dying may be new to their repertoire of topics and, at times, they may even bring up a thought of self-harm only to brush it off very quickly afterward.

surprising depression symptoms

Unsplash/Kinga Cichewicz

3. Extremes In Emotions

You may notice emotions that do not match your loved one’s normal behaviors. In a person who is not typically emotional, you may see extreme outbursts of tears or anger. An individual exhibiting those extremes could certainly be dealing with a hidden depression.

4. Unexplained Physical Pain And Slow Speaking

Common ailments seen in individuals with hidden depression can include headaches, stomachaches, and backaches. The symptoms are often unexplained in other ways, which is part of what makes diagnosing depression very challenging. Many individuals with hidden depression minimize their true feelings in order to not appear weak to those around them, which then takes a physical toll elsewhere in the body. An individual may experience problems with executive thinking skills as well, which means their thoughts may take longer to form and decisions may not feel as easy to make.

5. An Intense Focus On Tasks And Accomplishments

Hidden depression can also manifest in an intensity to do all tasks 100 percent perfectly. Anything less may trigger an extreme display of emotion. In the depressed person, the constant self-criticism can lead the person to believe that they can and will never be good enough. Individuals suffering from hidden depression will put their “happy” mask on as long as they are able to keep up the facade, and those stints of time will likely only grow shorter.

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