Surprising Symptoms of Depression

Anna’s coworkers have noticed some changes in her behavior recently. She appears to be restless, constantly tapping her pen and shaking her foot under her desk. She has stopped joining her coworkers for lunch, choosing to forego eating much at all while at work. It shows, too — her clothes are rather loose and she has clearly lost a considerable amount of weight. She comes to work with dark circles under her eyes and her boss Sara is constantly harping her about missed deadlines and a subpar performance. The leader of her team, she is responsible for making important decisions, but her indecisiveness lately has slowed down the productivity of the company considerably. All of this is out of character for Anna; she has always been one of the company’s top performers. When Sara convinces her to seek professional help, she is surprised when Anna reports she’s been diagnosed with clinical depression. After all, don’t people with depression appear slowed down and sad instead of keyed up and distracted? Plus, Sara had always thought people with depression ate and slept more than usual, wasn’t that right?

The stereotypical vignette of someone with depression usually indicates a tearful, slowed down person who sleeps most of the day and gains a lot of weight. While this can certainly happen, depression can take on a slew of other faces, like it did for Anna.

Here are some of the less well-known symptoms of a major depressive episode:

  • significant weight loss when not dieting due to decrease in appetite
  • insomnia
  • restlessness and agitation that is observable by others
  • indecisiveness, even about seemingly inconsequential decisions such as what to eat or what to wear
  • diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • in children and teens, mood can be irritable instead of “down”

The more commonly recognizable symptoms of depression include:

  • depressed mood and/or tearfulness
  • loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • weight gain/increased appetite
  • hypersomnia (sleeping more than usual)
  • appearing physically slowed down
  • fatigue, loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Understanding that depression can look very different across individuals is important for recognizing the signs of depression in yourself or someone else. If you or someone you know is exhibiting several of these symptoms and it appears to be affecting your/their functioning, don’t hesitate to seek help. At Great Lakes Psychology Group, it’s easy to make an appointment with a skilled therapist at one of our convenient locations in the Metro Detroit area. Depression is a treatable disorder — take the first step toward a better life today.

Note: similar symptoms in response to a major loss are understandable as part of the grieving process, although a depressive episode in addition to the normal grief response should be considered. See “The blurred line between grief and depression” for more information. 

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