Lesser-Known Signs of Depression

Nov 04, 2022
Lesser-Known Signs of Depression
You might be familiar with some common signs of depression, like feeling sad a lot or crying more than usual. But many people shrug off some of the lesser-known signs of this disorder. Here’s what you need to know.

Did you know more than 21 million adults in the United States experience depression at any given time? In fact, major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common mental health disease among Americans. 

While you might be familiar with some of the more common depressive symptoms, like persistent feelings of sadness, frequent crying, or a sense of worthlessness, many people with depression go undiagnosed because they shrug off some of its lesser-known signs.

That’s why our experienced team of providers at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania offers comprehensive depression screenings at each of our 12 locations in Nuremberg, Edwardsville, Shickshinny, Wilkes-Barre, Monroe Township, Sullivan Trail Fall, Freeland, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

Depression affects your feelings and thoughts, but it can also take a toll on your physical health. If you’re concerned about depression, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with a provider at our Center. 

In the meantime, keep reading to learn about some of the lesser-known signs of depression. 

Physical pain and “body” symptoms

One of the most common but frequently overlooked symptoms of depression is physical pain in the form of vague aches or pain that comes and goes. It may seem strange that something affecting your mind could cause physical pain or other physical symptoms. 

But your body and your mind are inexorably linked — they work together to create a complete being, and what affects one often impacts the other. The chemicals that influence your mood (neurotransmitters) can also determine how your body feels. 

In addition, research shows that people with depression have higher levels of stress hormones, which often translates to more inflammation, weaker immunity, and other “body” symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Digestive distress

The good news is that by treating your depression, you can help improve these physical symptoms. 

Increased substance use

People with depression are at higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. But even if you’re not experiencing traditional “addiction” behavior, any increase in substance use that affects your mood — like consuming more alcohol, tobacco products, recreational drugs, and even caffeine — could be a sign of depression.

This is because many people who aren’t aware they’re depressed reach for substances to help lift their moods or get a boost of energy or concentration. For example, if you’re feeling bad at the end of the day, you might find yourself refilling your wine glass an extra time or two. 

But using substances like alcohol or marijuana can make your depression worse by ultimately increasing fatigue, affecting your decision-making, and negatively influencing concentration. 

Talk to a provider at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania if you’ve had stronger cravings to drink or use other substances, you notice you’re using substances at new times (drinking wine during your lunch hour instead of only at dinner), or you need to consume or use more than before to get the desired effect. 

Brain fog 

Medical research has revealed that people with depression have differences in their brain that contribute to cognitive changes that are more likely to lead to issues with memory, focus and concentration, and decision making. In layperson’s terms, we often call this “brain fog.” 

Brain fog can present in different ways, but most people describe it as feeling slower than normal when reacting, being more forgetful than usual, having a hard time focusing on tasks that need to be done, and feeling “blocked” in their thinking. 

Unfortunately, the feelings that accompany brain fog can intensify depression, causing a downward spiral of worsening brain fog and depression. Be sure to have a depression screening if you’ve noticed an unshakable increase in brain fog. 

Anger or increased irritability

Everyone gets angry or irritated from time to time. But people with depression may experience heightened anger in response to things that don’t warrant such a strong reaction. You may, for example, have a rush of anger or irritability that seems to come out of nowhere, without clear cause or as a disproportionate response to something minor. 

Other people notice their anger lingers long after the inciting incident ends. Other signs of anger related to depression include: 

  • Frequent angry outbursts at others, especially loved ones
  • Having difficulty keeping your temper, even with small triggers
  • Finding it hard to bite your tongue or having frequent critical remarks

These outbursts can often lead to feelings of guilt or remorse, making depression worse. If you’ve noticed an increase in your anger or irritability, be sure to schedule an appointment with a provider to uncover the root cause.

Many other symptoms associated with depression exist. To learn more or to schedule a depression screening, book an appointment online or over the phone at your nearest Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania location. 

Our centers are: Black Creek Health Center, Nuremberg; Black Creek Dental Center, Nuremberg; Exeter Health Center, Falls; Freeland Health Center, Freeland; Freeland Dental Center, Freeland; Hazleton Pediatrics, Hazleton; Laporte Medical Center, Laporte; McKinney Clinic, Wilkes Barre; Monroe-Noxen Health Center, Noxen; Monroe-Noxen Dental Center, Noxen; Shickshinny Health Center, Shickshinny; and Valley Medical Center, Edwardsville 

No car? No problem! Our practice offers transportation services for patients needing assistance getting to one of our offices. We also have sliding scale payments for patients without insurance.