People often assume that depression always causes a set of hallmark symptoms like persistent sadness, which will make the condition easy to identify. However, depression can look different in every individual, and it doesn’t always come with the same symptoms. It is not uncommon for someone experiencing depression to think that they have a different illness, because they may feel physical symptoms like frequent nausea, body aches, or headaches. Unfortunately, when depression goes undiagnosed, it can cause ongoing problems as a disruption to daily life and a source of unpleasant and unexpected symptoms. Below you can get a look at the bigger picture of depression to help you understand if this common mood disorder and take control of your symptoms.
Patterns that indicate depression
Depression doesn’t always come with debilitating sadness—it may create feelings of unexplained guilt, irritability, or a cold and distant aloofness. You may also notice new behavioral patterns, such as a tendency to over- or under-eat, increased alcohol or drug use, over- or under-sleeping, or a withdrawal from social activities. As soon as you begin to recognize these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, it is important to bring them up to your primary physician or a behavioral therapist.
Depression and loneliness in the age of social media
Withdrawal from friend groups and isolation are common trends among people with depression, but these behaviors can be more difficult to recognize in the age of social media. When we remain connected virtually and continue to engage in social media, it may not feel as obvious that the desire to interact with others has diminished. However, social media can give away your state of mind, even without you realizing it. A very small study out of the University of Vermont found that there was a trend among individuals diagnosed with depression to post fewer pictures of other people—particularly of other people’s faces—and use no filters or filters that reduce the richness of color in their images. Conversely, healthy individuals chose more vibrant filters and tended to receive more comments and likes on their photographs than those with depression.
Strategies to fight isolation and depression
As a trend, Americans are becoming increasingly more isolated, and this trend of loneliness can have a lasting impact on public health. Loneliness can fuel depression, so it is important to take steps to restore healthy social activity as you fall into patterns of depression. Simply spending time with friends, visiting family members, or connecting with others in person can help to boost your mood and combat loneliness.
If you feel depression setting in, contacting a medical provider to talk about your symptoms is the right first step toward recovery. MeMD can provide you with the compassionate, convenient care you need to take that first step.