Key Takeaways Key Takeaways
  • Depression extends beyond the commonly known symptoms like sadness and loss of interest.

  • Individuals may exhibit mental slowdown, cognitive challenges, and increased anger, pointing to a diverse range of manifestations.

  • Thoughts of death or suicide ideation, as well as chronic pain or lower pain tolerance, are crucial signs of severe Depression that might go unnoticed.

5 Signs of Depression You May Not Know

This content has been updated from the previous article on September 1, 2022.

As we head towards the last month of 2023, coinciding with 3 years post-COVID-19 pandemic, it may be surprising to some that the impact of the pandemic still remains.

In 2023, based on a study released by Gallup, we found Depression rates reached an all-time high. The proportion of adults in the United States acknowledging a lifetime diagnosis of Depression has surged to 29.0%, marking a substantial increase of almost 10 percentage points from the statistics recorded in 2015.

Concurrently, the percentage of Americans presently diagnosed with or undergoing treatment for Depression has risen to 17.8%, reflecting a notable seven-point uptick over the corresponding period.

These figures represent the highest rates documented by Gallup since the inception of Depression measurement through the current data collection method in 2015.

It may be surprising to some given the media coverage on the rise in men’s mental health issues, but Gallup’s study found that more than a third of women (36.7%) reported receiving a Depression diagnosis at some point in their lives, in contrast to 20.4% of men.

The rate of diagnosis among women has increased at almost double the pace of men since 2017. Within specific age groups, those between 18 to 29 (34.3%) and 30 to 44 (34.9%) exhibit notably higher lifetime Depression rates than individuals over the age of 44.

Current Depression or treatment for Depression is most prevalent among women (23.8%) and adults aged 18 to 29 (24.6%). These groups have experienced the most substantial increases in rates since 2017, with a 6.2% rise for women and an 11.6% surge for the younger age bracket. Additionally, adults aged 30 to 44 have shown accelerated rates compared to 2017 estimates.

Lifetime Depression rates are escalating swiftly among Black and Hispanic adults, surpassing those of White respondents. This marks a departure from historical trends where White adults typically reported slightly higher rates of both lifetime and current Depression.

In the United States, Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and affects more than 21 million adults in the country each year. Depression results from a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors. People who experience more adverse life events like violent events, the death of a loved one, professional or personal setbacks are more likely to develop it.

Depression can lead to suicide and sadly is often undiagnosed, with only half of those from Depression getting mental health care. So, chances are that you or someone close to you has experienced Depression, and its most common symptoms may be well known to you: feeling sad, the loss of energy, weight loss or gain, and disruptive sleep are all closely associated with Depression.

But for some of those 21 million people, Depression can take many forms. Below are just five of the signs of more severe forms 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.

For serious cases, it may require a long-term treatment program and our compassionate mental health care providers are here to help through in-person or online appointments.

Sadness or loss of interest

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed kinds of Depression. For people receiving this diagnosis, one of the hallmark signs of Depression is an enduring feeling of sadness or a significant loss of interest in activities that once brought joy. Individuals experiencing Depression may find it challenging to engage in hobbies, socialize, or take pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyable.

With all the social disruptions the COVID pandemic has created, it can be hard to reconnect with a friend or loved one.

According to the US Census Bureau, Americans have been spending more time alone and less time with friends and family. Remote work has also contributed to the decline in social interactions. Long gone are the days of Friday work happy hours, which for so long proved to be a cornerstone of social interaction. The decline in opportunities for social interactions are also leading to an increase in Anxiety, specifically Social Anxiety.

If you or someone you know constantly feels down or disinterested for an extended period, it’s essential to consider Depression as a potential factor.

Mental Slowdown

Depression not only affects emotions but also takes a toll on cognitive functions. Individuals may experience mental slowdown, difficulty concentrating, and memory issues. If you notice a persistent struggle with organizing thoughts, remembering details, or concentrating on daily tasks, these cognitive signs could be indicative of an underlying depressive state.

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.

Increased Anger and Irritability

Anger can be a healthy, normal reaction to events. However, uncontrollable or unpredictable anger can become unhealthy, unsafe for others, and even a sign of a mood disorder like Depression.

While sadness is a well-known symptom, Depression can also manifest as heightened irritability and unexplained anger. Individuals may find themselves easily frustrated, irritable, or even prone to explosive bouts of anger. These emotional shifts can be alarming, and recognizing them as potential indicators of Depression is crucial for seeking appropriate support.

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.

Thoughts of Death or Suicide Ideation

Depression can lead to pervasive thoughts of death or even suicidal ideation. It’s essential to differentiate between active plans and passive thoughts.

Passive thoughts may involve a preoccupation with death or a desire to not wake up without explicit plans for self-harm. 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.

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. These passive thoughts are still signs of Depression, even if the person is not in immediate danger of self-harm.

If you or someone you know experiences any form of suicidal thoughts, it is crucial to seek immediate professional help and support.

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.

LifeStance offers licensed therapists specializing in Depression Treatment. If you think you or a loved one may have Depression, please find a provider using our provider directory.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults.


Reviewed By

Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

Nicholette is a faculty member at John Carroll University’s Clinical Counseling program, and she is also the host of the LifeStance podcast, Convos from the Couch.