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5 Things You May Not Know Are Signs of Depression

woman suffering from uncommon signs of depression
By Lifestance Health on August 12, 2020

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States and affects more than 17 million adults in the country each year. Chances are that you or someone close to you has experienced depression, and you may be well aware of its most common symptoms. Crying spells, hopelessness, and loss of interest in hobbies are all closely associated with depression.

But for some of those 17 million people, depression looks much different than that. Below are just five of the signs of depression you may not know. If you or someone you love has any signs of depression, don’t wait to get help. Depression is a serious, sometimes fatal disorder. Our compassionate mental health care providers are here to help through in-person or online appointments.

1. Uncontrolled Anger and Irritability

Anger can be a healthy, normal reaction to events. However, anger can become unhealthy and even a sign of a mood disorder like depression. Unhealthy anger can mean that someone is quick to get frustrated and feels easily irritated. It can also mean exploding with anger even with relatively small triggers. Sometimes, but not always, people with unhealthy anger can destroy property or hurt others.

2. Cognitive Problems

Depression takes a significant toll on the brain. Sometimes, this makes it difficult for people to concentrate, organize, and remember things.

People with depression may suddenly start:

  • Being late to everything
  • Misplacing important things
  • Forgetting important details
  • Zoning out from conversations
  • Struggling to concentrate even on basic tasks

If you notice any of these issues in yourself or a loved one, it could be a sign of depression or another mental health condition.

3. Substance Abuse

Depression is difficult to live with, especially when you go without treatment. Some people don’t realize they are living with depression while others don’t get treatment due to stigma. For some, this can lead to “self-medicating” through drug use or excessive drinking.

Sadly, this is relatively common. In fact, one in every four people with a mental health disorder also lives with a substance abuse disorder. This dual diagnosis can lead to a downward spiral with many legal, personal, and physical problems. Professional intervention can reserve that spiral.

4. Passive Thoughts of Death

You know wanting to die and actively planning to die by suicide are signs of depression. If you or someone you love has these thoughts, seek emergency care.


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Many people don’t realize that there are different types of suicidal thoughts. Someone does not need to have a plan in order for their thoughts to indicate that they live with depression. Someone may obsess over the idea of death, hope to go to sleep and not wake up, or even hope to be in an accident. However, they do not plan to actively hurt themselves.

These passive thoughts are still signs of depression, even if the person is not in immediate danger of self-harm. Someone with passive thoughts of death should seek mental health care.

5. Chronic Pain or Lower Pain Tolerance

Although depression is a mental illness, it can affect your physical wellness too. Because of the powerful mind-body connection, people with depression can experience unexplained aches and pains throughout the body. These aches are not intense. Instead, they feel like the body aches that a mild flu might cause.

Furthermore, people with depression often have lower pain tolerance when they are in a depressed state. So, something that would have barely bothered you before may feel really painful.

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