In my last article I discussed 10 signs you may be experiencing depression. In this article I am going to add to that list. I’m also going to talk to you about some things you might want to check out if you are still unsure if you are depressed.
Trigger warning – more so than with some other articles, this article has the potential to be distressing to someone experiencing depression or someone who cares for someone with depression.
If you feel very low whilst reading, please stop and seek support.
With that being said, let’s dive back in…
11) Struggling to concentrate.
Concentration takes energy and focus. As we have already covered, depression can sap your energy and your mind may be filled with unwelcome negative thoughts, which interfere with thinking about the task at hand.
Things you used to be able to concentrate on like reading, watching a movie or work may become more difficult. This can reduce your exposure to the positive effects of engaging in pleasant activities and can cause performance issues related to work or education.
If your performance is affected by depression it can make negative self-talk stronger and can expose you to questioning from others. This may be difficult to cope with, particularly as depressed people are likely to interpret criticism or questioning as being much more negative than intended.
12) Changes in memory.
Memory changes fall into two camps; struggling to recall happy or positive memories and struggling with short term memory loss.
Depression can make it harder to recall positive memories, or it can cause you to focus on something small which was negative about an experience, even if the experience overall was positive.
For example; if a person were to recall going to the zoo with their friend when they are not depressed, they may recall this as an enjoyable day out. But if the same person were to recall the event when they are depressed, they may put more focus on something small that went wrong during the experience, (such as it drizzling with rain or them having a slight headache). This will affect how positive the memory is recalled overall.
Depending on what issue is focused on, the whole memory could turn from positive to negative. This means that the person now has fewer positive memories left to pick from when trying to recall a time when they were happy.
Having a mood boost box filled with reminders of positive memories can help if you are experiencing depression. This box will contain happy memories you may have automatically dismissed or otherwise forgotten and can act as a prompt for self-care.
Short term memory loss, (or forgetting things which happened recently) is another indicator of depression. Because the brain is dealing with so much already, a depressed person is more likely to forget.
Regularly forgetting to take your keys with you when you leave the house, forgetting what you were supposed to add to the shopping list or walking into a room and forgetting why you did are all examples of short term memory loss.
Please understand that forgetting things now and then is perfectly normal and not an indication that anything is wrong. But an increase in forgetfulness is something to be aware of.
13) Changes in how much you sleep.
We have already talked about how depression can make you extremely tired. This can result in some people sleeping much more than they would ordinarily.
What may surprise you is that sometimes it can also go the other way, and people with depression can struggle to get to sleep. The important think to take note of is if your sleep pattern has changed and there is no obvious reason as to why this might be.
14) Comfort eating or losing your appetite.
Again, this is an example of how depression can affect people very differently. Some people can completely lose their appetite and as a result lose an unhealthy amount of weight. The effect of losing your appetite can be serious. It can cause malnutrition, weakness and increased tiredness.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people can find that they end up comfort eating. This means eating more “junk” food than they would typically, increasing portion sizes, or both.
Comfort eating is where we use food to relieve our emotional distress, be this sadness, stress, anger or any other negative emotion. When we were babies and we cried, we would often receive food and comfort, therefore the association between food and comfort is not an illogical one.
Unfortunately, comfort eating can have unwanted side effects such as more negative self-talk or self-criticism. Eating much more than your body needs is also likely to have health implications, especially if it carries on for a long period of time.
15) A change in how horny you feel.
Not everyone has a high sex drive and not everyone ordinarily finds sex appealing. But if you or your partner notices a drop in your libido, you may want to investigate why that is. Being depressed is one reason some people lose interest in sex.
Having one or many of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you are depressed.
If you have mentally ticked off quite a few of these symptoms but are still unsure if you are depressed, you may want to consider other possible reasons for the signs.
Read up on medication side effects.
Some medications list “mood disturbances” (or similar) as a side effect. Some even straight up list “depression” as a possible side effect.
Surprisingly, many medications prescribed for depression and anxiety can also cause an increase in depression, although this side effect does tend to go away after a while.
If you take prescription medication of any kind, its worth checking the information leaflet to see if the medication is triggering something biological.
Even if a medication doesn’t list anything like depression, it could list other side effects which would go someway to explaining the signs you are experiencing. Things such as; “insomnia”, “weight gain”, “loss of appetite”, “memory loss”, “reduced sex drive” and “lethargy” could all impact on you negatively and may trigger changes in your mood.
You shouldn’t stop taking any prescription medication without talking to a doctor first. But if you believe the side effects of medication you take are making you feel depressed, talk to your doctor about it. They may be able to prescribe you an alternative or alter your dose.
Consider the impact of contraception.
If you are a person who menstruates, you may be on some form of hormonal contraception. Many people experience changes when they begin, stop or switch their contraception.
There are a lot of contraception options out there, so if you believe your depressed mood is linked to your contraception, it is worth discussing this with a doctor. They may be able to recommend an alternative.
Acknowledge any grief you may be experiencing.
The way some people experience grief can mirror the experience of being depressed. Grief normally does get better in time and the way that you are feeling will eventually start to subside.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be happy if you are grieving. Being upset, angry or feeling numb are all normal reactions to losing someone you care about.
Sometimes grief can go on for longer and can lead to the development of mental health issues like depression. So, whilst grief is a healthy reaction to loss, the depression it can trigger can have a much more harmful impact.
Read up on other mental health conditions.
A lot of the signs of depression are very similar to those of anxiety. It is common for people to be diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. Anxiety and depression are known as comorbid disorders, meaning where one is present, the other is likely to be too.
It may be helpful for you to determine which of these conditions you feel matches your experience the strongest. If you would like to read about anxiety, you can do so here.
There is also some overlap with other conditions like OCD, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and panic disorder. If you would like to learn more about these, the Mind website has lots of helpful information and resources.
You don’t have to be depressed or have a diagnosis to see a counsellor.
You don’t have to be depressed to see a counsellor. If any of the signs above are bothering you, you can talk to a counsellor about it.
Your counsellor won’t be able to diagnose you. But they can help you work out what may be causing the issues you are experiencing and help you develop strategies to overcome them.
If you think you are depressed but are worried about talking to a counsellor without having a formal diagnosis first, please try not to worry. There is no requirement to have a diagnosis of depression (or any other mental health issue) in order to see a counsellor. Your counsellor can still work with you to improve how you feel without a diagnosis.
If you want to speak to a friendly, supportive counsellor about the way you feel, I’m here to help.
I work with depression from a compassionate standpoint. This means I equip you with the understanding, kindness and self-care you need to overcome your depression. I do work with tools and strategies, but I will also support and guide you as much as you need.
If this sounds like the kind of approach you would benefit from, then drop me a message.
You can reach me at: 07588 117305 or firstname.lastname@example.org