5 Ways Depression Can Secretly Ruin Your Life
According to the Office of National Statistics, about one in five people have experienced common symptoms of depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is more than double than the numbers recorded before the pandemic, which raises more and more concerns among specialists.
Whether we talk about financial instability, working from home while caring for children or health concerns, there are dozens of factors which increase the risk for developing anxiety and depression.
But what does depression feel like?
Depression is more than we think
Probably the first descriptive words that comes to our minds are sadness, pessimism and lack of motivation – which is entirely true. However, it’s equally important to acknowledge that depression can manifest entirely different from one human to another – so it might not always come as you’d expect.
Although it is the most common mental health diagnosis in the U.S., depression is still a major challenge for specialists in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
Rosie Weatherly, information content manager at Mind, explains that mental health issues can affect our behavior, thoughts, feelings and sometimes they might even bring physical symptoms.
While some people suddenly become very anxious about everything around them, others are feeling empty, numb and meaningless.
One thing is for sure: depression should not be ignored especially during such a difficult time and it’s crucial that we know the signs for this common mental health diagnosis.
With that in mind, here are less known symptoms of depression:
Linda Blair, clinical psychologist and author of Key to Calm, explains that depression can sometimes cause anger and rage unexplainably.
Now, if you’re stuck at home with a full-time job and two children to take care of, it’s perfectly understandable why you snap more than usual. The pandemic definitely has something to say when it comes to our anger management skills and there’s no reason to be too hard on ourselves for it.
However, if you really can’t understand why you’re being so angry, so frequently, it might be time to take a closer look at your other actions; this way, you can find out whether you may secretly have depression or not.
It’s incredible how much could change in a single year, right? Of all the things we had to adjust to, our social life was probably one of the most affected areas.
We spent months at end in lockdown wearing masks and social distancing (as we still should). We can only see our loved ones safely through the screen of a phone.
Sometimes it’s heartbreaking.
Many of us have probably had a hard time adjusting to all of these sudden changes; for some, they may even affect our social skills to the point we don’t know how (or don’t want) to communicate with those around us. These feelings might signal the beginning of depression.
Senior therapist Sally Baker also adds that spending too much time at home can decrease our vitamin D production. For years, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with symptoms of depression, which may be another reason why you’re feeling down.
3. Reliance of technology
Right now, the world is more dependent on technology than ever before – and although it sounds good, it also has a negative impact.
Don’t get me wrong! I am endlessly grateful for being able to check in with my parents who live across the country on a daily basis; in fact, now we can even see each other perfectly and it’s all just one smartphone call away.
On the other side of the coin, we end up spending hours scrolling down on social media or news platforms that are mostly filled with pandemic-related negative information. This type of depressing content actually forced some people to give up on checking their phone because they felt too affected by it.
Other people, though, may unconsciously become addicted to this toxic behavior known as ‘doom-scrolling.’ Basically, this type of people simply can’t help scrolling all day long to find mostly negative content that severely alters their thoughts and feelings.
4. Digestive problems
As I was mentioning at the beginning of this post, depression can sometimes cause physical symptoms that affect our life quality.
According to Baker, prolonged periods of stress and anxiety can literally cause stomach cramps or diarrhea. That’s because your brain-gut axis is desperately trying to cope with the excess of stress hormones released throughout the body.
Aside from an upset stomach, your eating habits may also change during depression. If you find yourself eating far more carbs than usual (especially from unhealthy foods), it may be a sign that your mind is looking for comfort and pleasure.
5. Struggling to focus
Did you know that low-level depression is also a diagnosis? While it’s definitely not as severe as other forms, this mental health problem can also affect your life quality.
Blair explains that lack of focus and relaxation is among the most common symptoms of low-level depression. The pandemic definitely doesn’t help much here since it made us all feel endangered or on the edge for months.
When you feel like you can’t focus on any daily task, that’s because your brain is busy doing something else: worrying. Baker further explains the phenomenon:
“You might notice an increase in incidences of ‘brain-fog’ which is the subconscious mind’s way of protecting someone from the extremely challenging circumstances they are living through. Brain-fog is a common symptom of grief and many people are in mourning for the life they used to live.”
Furthermore, if you find ourself overthinking even the smallest details, it may also be a sign that your brain is feeling overwhelmed by something; and unfortunately, there are plenty of things that can overwhelm us right now.
I think I have depression. What do I do now?
If you notice a pattern of unexplainable thoughts and feelings that last for longer periods of time, the first thing you can do is talk to a loved one. Sometimes, simply letting out your emotions may bring some clarity and help you understand yourself.
However, if you feel like nothing helps and you’re sinking more and more into a negative state of mind, it might be best to talk to a therapist. In this post, I talk about 7 reasons why attending therapy can be worth it.
Are you or a loved one struggling with depression right now? Share your stories in the comment section and let’s encourage each other to stay safe and happy during these difficult times!