7 Subtle Effects of Depression Most People Are Unaware of

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There are some less known effects of depression few people are aware of. Depression doesn’t always look like extreme sadness or hopelessness.

Due to a fixed list of the symptoms and effects of depression promoted by the media, this disorder is becoming harder and harder to recognize without medical intervention. But is this image entirely accurate?

Most people tend to view depression as a period of extreme sadness. It is, however, a much more complex disorder that may be treated with a variety of methods including in- and outpatient psychiatric therapy, talking to your loved ones or consulting in rehab centers in cases when depression is accompanied by substance addiction.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some less known effects of depression.

The Effects of Depression Are Not Always Obvious

The telltale signs of depression include low mood, a lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable, fatigue and sadness. While these symptoms are indeed real and common, people frequently fail to notice or simply disregard subtler and less obvious effects of depression. Below are some of the less expected ways depression can manifest in.

Externalizing

When a person has been locking their depression inside for long enough, it usually starts showing in ways that might be hard to link to a single mental disorder. This is what health professionals call “externalizing”.

When someone externalizes their depression, they might have a hard time controlling their emotions. For example, they may yell at their loved ones, engage in drinking, substance abuse or self-harm, withdraw from society and display other behaviors that are uncommon for them.

These signs don’t guarantee a diagnosis and may simply mean a person is having a bad day. However, it is important to recognize them and account for the possibility of depression.

Perfectionism

While perfectionism doesn’t always result in depression, there is an undeniable connection between these two phenomena. Perfectionism leads people to strive for flawlessness, set unrealistic goals or have exceptionally high expectations of themselves without regard for their resources and abilities.

Perfectionists may feel like they will only be loved and accepted if they’re perfect. As a result, they tend to overreact to failures. This all-or-nothing attitude contributes to depression by planting the idea that the smallest mistakes are fatal.

Bias in perception

People with depression tend to have a visual bias towards negative. Swift reaction to negativity is a natural human trait that helps us identify when we are in danger and take action. Yet, depression prevents people from seeing the bright side. It also has a physical manifestation.

A depressed person is likely to have weak or no reaction to the positive news and happy faces. They may also try to avoid them altogether, feeling more comfortable with neutral or negative expressions.

Indecisiveness

Although we tend to base our choices on solid facts and evidence, it is impossible to predict everything. Hence, making an important decision always requires intuition. However, when you’re depressed, it’s a struggle to trust your gut feeling. Therefore, you are likely to let hesitation and overthinking cloud your judgment.

Another factor that contributes to indecisiveness is pessimism. You may simply lack the motivation to see the action through, regardless of the choice you make. This is because in your eyes, it’s already destined to end in failure.

Extremes

Another one of the effects of depression is a lack of moderation in simple daily activities like sleeping and eating. It is common that a depressed person may suffer from insomnia and loss of appetite. They may even develop personal hygiene issues resulting from the absence of will to do anything.

However, excessive sleepiness, also known as hypersomnia, and overeating are just as likely to be the effects of depression. Often, these conditions are symptoms of drug withdrawal, therefore, they can be treated in the dual diagnosis rehab centers.

Physical pain

The way we perceive pain almost entirely depends on the circumstance, environment, and our psychological state. Depression can cause a person to feel pain in various parts of the body, most frequently chest and heart regions, that can’t be explained by any medical examination.

These phantom aches are quite common during depression or anxiety. In fact, as much as 40-60% of people who come to an emergency department with complaints about chest pain are discharged with a diagnosis of non‐specific chest pain, meaning the cause of it is not physical.

Irritability and aggression

Depression doesn’t necessarily make you compliant and indifferent. The research published by JAMA Psychiatry suggests that irritability and anger were present in almost 55% of the surveyed individuals who suffered from depression. Those participants of the study also had poor impulse control and higher rates of substance abuse.

More disturbingly, hostility and anger may indicate a severe form of depression, accompanied by anxiety or a variety of antisocial personality disorders. If you notice that you are uncharacteristically short-tempered and lash out on smallest occasions, it makes sense to examine your feelings and determine what stands behind that behavior.

Final thoughts

All in all, it is impossible to measure depression with a single gauge. Its symptoms, causes, and severity are highly individual. As a result, those who are unaware of the less popular signs and effects of depression often neglect its existence.

In fact, many people deny their condition and refuse to seek help because they feel like their symptoms are not severe enough to fit in the common specification. This can also happen because of the social stigma that still labels people with depression as “weak”.

Sometimes it is possible to manage depression via self-help and support from your loved ones. However, it’s crucial to notice if this approach doesn’t work for you and getting professional assistance might be in order. It’s easy to get lost among so many treatment options. For some people, cognitive behavioral therapy is enough to fully recover, others may need to address a psychiatrist.

Depression can make you feel like your life is falling apart, and coping with it on your own may prove to be quite a challenge. Therefore, it’s important to remember that reaching out to people and talking about your feelings or issues, however minor they seem to be, is never a weakness. Keep in mind that while depression undoubtedly affects your life, it doesn’t have to define it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thanush Poulsen is a Danish blogger who closely investigates the problem of mental health. Being focused on raising people’s awareness of mental issues of various diseases as well as conditions, Thanush aims to threaten public health.

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