According to The World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264million people around the world suffer from major depression. Despite this, many people may not even recognise if they or a loved one is suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), or might be experiencing symptoms that are not well-known or obvious.
There are typical symptoms that indicate major depressive disorder, such as extended feelings of sadness or hopelessness, but depression can affect people in more subtle ways that might be difficult to pick up on. Keep reading to learn how to recognise the overarching symptoms of MDD, as well as less common identifiers that a person may display.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Major depressive disorder is very different from feeling sad or down about something. It does not resolve on its own and the sufferer can require professional treatment to overcome it. Identifying common red flags that could point to MDD can enable you to seek help more quickly for yourself or someone else. Some signature symptoms include:
1. A change in weight and appetite
Everyone’s weight changes throughout their life, but if you’re displaying a rapid increase or decrease in your body weight, it could be due to major depressive disorder.
When a person feels depressed it can directly impact their appetite and they may overeat as a means of coping, or eat less due to a reduced appetite. Extreme swings in weight can complicate feelings of depression, as they may further affect a person’s self-image and self-esteem.
2. A noticeable lack of interest in hobbies and activities
A tell tale warning sign of major depressive disorder is an observable decrease in or lack of interest in doing things that you used to enjoy or make you happy. We all outgrow interests and hobbies as we age, but if you find you no longer want to participate in anything you used to enjoy, it could be due to MDD. This change doesn’t just relate to activities, it can also includes pending time with friends or visiting with family.
3. Feelings of exhaustion and fatigue
Depression drains sufferers of their physical and mental energy, leaving them feeling exhausted. Over time, this can result in the person having less desire and inclination to do anything, making it difficult to maintain relationships and work and social commitments. Eventually, this persistent lack of energy makes it difficult to do even the most basic things, and the person may not want to get out of bed or even shower.
4. Irregular sleeping patterns
Although major depressive disorder saps a person’s energy and motivation, it can also disrupt their sleeping pattern. Someone who struggles to fall asleep and doesn’t sleep enough, or oversleeps and sleeps more than what’s necessary or normal, could be experiencing depression.
5. A shift in overall mood
Lastly, one of the most common identifiable symptoms of major depressive disorder is a change or shift in a person’s general mood. On going feelings of sadness, anxiety, negativity, hopelessness, and pessimism are all emotions a person with major depressive disorder might be exhibiting. However, if you’re feeling depressed you may not necessarily feel sad or upset. You can feel angry, irritable, and overly guilty and still be experiencing MDD.
It’s important to keep in mind that while these are often telltale signs of major depressive disorder, it doesn’t mean that someone who displays them is depressed. These symptoms could also stem from another underlying medical condition.
A doctor or mental health professional would have to screen the person to assess whether they’re suffering from MDD or another identifiable illness.
What are the Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder?
In addition to the symptoms discussed above, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) lists the symptoms of major depressive disorder as:
- Physical symptoms such as aches and pains in the body, digestive disorders, and constant headaches.
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Thoughts and talk of death or suicide, or suicide plans or attempts.
Recognising Less Common Symptoms
Not everyone with major depressive disorder exhibits the well-known symptoms. A person experiencing MDD may display less common warning signs, like:
- A drug or alcohol addiction.
- A decreased or inactive sex drive.
- Uncontrollable emotions, or a sudden jump from one emotion to another.
- Forced or over-the-top displays of happiness as a means of masking their depression.
How to Get Help for Major Depressive Disorder
Being depressed is never a choice, and it’s never the fault of the person suffering from it. If you think you are, or someone you know is, experiencing major depressive disorder it’s important to know that there are ways to get help. Depression is fully treatable and people can recover from it and still live fulfilling lives.
If think you are suffering from MDD, here’s what you can do:
- Reach out to someone you trust, like a close friend or family member, and talk to them about what you’re experiencing.
- Contact your doctor or a mental health professional who can test for it and make recommendations.
- Seek online counselling or join a support group.
If you know someone you think might be depressed, you can:
- Approach them with a kind and non-judgmental attitude.
- Encourage them to reach out and seek help from a doctor or mental health professional.
- Encourage them to join a support group or seek online counselling.
- Be supportive and understanding.
Are you ready to over come your feelings of depression? Sign up for our insightful and supportive online course for depression here.