5 Surprising Symptoms of Depression

Depression is an insidious disease because its initial symptoms can vary greatly.

While most people with depression will experience obvious symptoms like persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety — that is not always the case.

Some people will suffer from depression while exhibiting less obvious symptoms and they may not even realise they are suffering from depression.

This post will take a closer look at the more “surprising” symptoms of depression.

By being aware of these less common symptoms, you can improve your chances of identifying depression early on and taking action to stop it from progressing.

Unexpected weight gain

If you look in the mirror one day and suddenly realise that you have put on a lot of weight, it may be related to depression.

Weight gain is often associated with depression because being depressed can alter your eating habits and change your metabolism.

In some cases, depressed people simply eat more than normal because they enjoy the little bursts of serotonin that are released as they eat.

Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter that is released in the brain when performing enjoyable activities like eating ice cream or chocolate.

Depressed people can temporarily gain some relief from their depression if it is caused by a serotonin deficiency.

Negative emotions like guilt, sadness, and hopelessness can also cause people to eat more.

Eating temporarily distracts the mind from these any negative thoughts.

Unfortunately, this can create a negative feedback loop where overeating creates feelings of guilt and these feelings of guilt make you overeat again.

Another reason for unexpected weight gain is that depressed people tend to be inactive.

They often skip their workouts, preferring to sit on the couch instead — which of course, leads to weight gain. 

You no longer feel “anything”

Most people suffering from depression will experience a wide range of negative emotions.

This can include feelings of dread, fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, or discontent.

However, some depressed people simply feel nothing.

They might be so numb or apathetic that nothing around them triggers any emotions at all.

The drive to be active and do things is gone, and they may become cold or distant.

In some cases, this can lead to the depressed person pushing away the people in their life that normally provide them with love and support.

Physical pain

While the symptoms of depression mostly affect the mind, they can also affect the body.

If you have been suffering unexplained joint pain, back pain or limb pain, it may be a result of depression taking hold.

Depression is associated with physical pain because the neurotransmitters that influence pain and mood are the same (serotonin and norepinephrine).

If these neurotransmitters are imbalanced, it can cause depression and pain to appear simultaneously.

Unfortunately, this also means that the more severe your depression becomes, the more physical pain you will be in.

Depression can also cause other physical ailments including gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.

You start drinking more alcohol than normal

Alcohol and depression have complex relationship.

When you drink alcohol, it can feel like the symptoms of depression have eased as alcohol ingestion shifts your focus away from your inner thoughts.

This makes consuming alcohol more pleasurable as you feel like you are giving your brain a “break” from the repetitive negative thoughts caused by depression.

However, excessive alcohol consumption can actually worsen depression symptoms and trigger dangerous depressive episodes.

Researchers have discovered that the link between alcohol dependence and depression is very clear.

One 2012 study performed in the United States found that 63.8% of people with alcohol dependency also have depression.

Alcohol dependency can extend the duration of your depression, deplete your energy levels, damage your relationships and impact your physical health — so it’s always important to be mindful of how much you drink.

Forgetfulness or indecisiveness

If you find that you are losing your keys more often or decision-making has become more difficult, depression may be to blame.

Depression can affect your cognition, which is the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding.

This can impact how well your brain performs common tasks like making decisions, remembering facts, and resolving problems.

The main reason why depression affects cognition is because it increases the level of cortisol in your body.

Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you experience stressful situations.

It puts the body into fight-or-flight mode — where you become physically and mentally prepared to either run away from the threat or to fight it.

Researchers have found that having high levels of cortisol in your body can eventually weaken or shrink a part of the brain called the hippocampus.

This part of the brain regulates memory and emotions.

If your depression has begun to impact the hippocampus, you may notice your cognitive performance declining.

Fortunately, seeking treatment for depression and stress can improve most depression-related cognitive problems. 

Thanks for reading 5 Surprising Symptoms of Depression. 

Do you have any of these symptoms? 

If so, talk to a loved one or a medical professional as soon as possible to obtain the help you need.

Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international tax adviser who specialises in dealing with ultra high net worth individuals.

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