Some people can be depressed and not know it. Although well-known symptoms such as sadness or hopelessness can be easy to recognize, other signs of depression may be less obvious.
Although some depression symptoms are obvious, there are many hidden signs of depression. However, it is important to note that other medical issues can also cause some of the same symptoms.
This article discusses some of the less obvious symptoms of depression. It also covers common causes of depression and what a person should do if they or a loved one experiences the following symptoms.
These changes in food intake can cause a person to gain or lose weight. They can also affect mood and energy levels.
There may also be physiological factors at play. For example,
There is a strong connection between mood and sleep. A lack of sleep can contribute to depression, and depression can make it more difficult to sleep.
However, sleeping more than usual can also be a sign that a person may have depression.
Some people with mood disorders may use alcohol or drugs to help them cope with negative emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that in the United States, about 1 in 5 people with anxiety or a mood disorder such as depression also have an alcohol or substance use disorder. Conversely, the same proportion of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a mood disorder.
Negative self-talk is an inner dialogue that is damaging and self-critical. Many people with depression experience negative self-talk and default to harmful, critical thoughts toward themselves.
Although there is limited research on the long-term effects of negative self-talk,
Although everyone feels tired from time to time, people who have severe or persistent tiredness — especially if it accompanies other symptoms — may have hidden depression.
Sometimes, people refer to hidden depression as “smiling depression.” The reason for this is that people who hide their symptoms may ensure that their face appears happy while in the company of others.
However, it can be difficult to keep up with this forced happiness and positivity. Over time, the mask may slip, and a person may show signs of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness.
There is a theory that people with depression may display a trait called “depressive realism.” This means that they
Being more realistic or pessimistic than others may be one sign of depression, especially if the person has other possible symptoms of depression.
When a person trails off during conversations or loses their train of thought, this can indicate issues with memory and concentration. Such issues are a common symptom of depression.
Additionally, a 2018 narrative review notes that cognitive dysfunction is a key aspect of major depressive disorder (MDD). This can significantly affect a person’s social life, returning to work, and workplace productivity.
Some people with hidden depression experience personality changes. They may become more quiet and withdrawn, or they may be angry and irritable.
Many people do not associate anger and irritability with depression, but these mood changes are not unusual among those with the condition. Instead of appearing sad, some people with hidden depression may display irritability and overt or suppressed anger.
Some healthcare professionals consider changes in sex drive a key indicator when diagnosing episodes of depressive symptoms. In a
There are several reasons why a person’s libido might decrease when they have depression. These include:
- loss of interest in pleasurable activities, such as sex
- fatigue and low energy levels
- low self-esteem
Scientists do not yet know the exact cause of depression. However, many experts think a combination of biological and environmental factors plays a role in its onset.
People with symptoms of depression should consider seeking help from a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or psychotherapist. These professionals can help make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.
A person with depression may also wish to get support from loved ones.
Other steps to manage depression might include:
- reducing stress, such as through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga
- improving self-esteem through positive self-affirmations
- socializing with others, although this can be challenging with depression
- engaging in activities that the person used to enjoy
- exercising regularly
- eating a balanced diet
- asking family or friends for support
- joining a support group
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Below are some commonly asked questions about whether a person can be depressed and not know it.
Can people be unaware that they have depression?
It is possible that a person may be depressed and not know it. Less obvious symptoms of depression include:
- weight changes
- sleep disturbances
- alcohol or drug use
- negative self-talk
- loss of concentration
- low sex drive
Is there a silent depression?
There are many types of depression, including major depression and seasonal affective disorder.
Hidden depression, or “silent depression,” is not a medical diagnosis and refers to symptoms of depression that are less recognized by others.
How often does depression go unnoticed?
The reasons for this include stigma, lack of perceived need, and affordability.
Not everyone with depression will display the typical symptoms of sadness and despair. Sometimes, the only signs that a person may show are physical, such as fatigue or weight changes.
Other signs of hidden depression can include using alcohol or drugs, being irritable or angry, and losing interest in pleasurable activities such as sex and hobbies.
People concerned that a loved one has hidden depression should try talking with them about their symptoms and offering nonjudgmental support and advice. Individuals who suspect that they have depression should consider discussing it with a doctor or mental health professional.