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June 13, 2018

9 Surprising Signs of Depression

When you hear the word depression, what comes to mind? Sadness and thoughts of suicide probably top the list.  These are signs of depression, but there are others that often go unrecognized...

Surprising signs of depression:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Quick temper
  • Irritability (especially true for kids)
  • Increase in negative/shaming thoughts (that are hard to fight off even when you recognize them and try your best)
  • Withdrawal
  • Change in eating habits (eating all the time, not wanting to eat, or even sometimes binging-restrictive eating)
  • Change in sleeping habits (sleeping all the time, hard to get out of bed in the morning, or conversely not able to sleep as well as normal)
  • Lack of motivation, energy
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy

Experiencing these symptoms does not automatically mean you have depression, but it means there is something going on and it would be a good idea to consult a counselor and/or doctor to rule out depression.Other signs of depression can include:

  • Suicidal ideation, which means thinking about death, dying, or ceasing to exist
  • Inability to get out of bed in the morning
  • Hopelessness
  • Frequent crying, sadness, or tearfulness

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, if you have developed a plan, and if you don't know if you can keep yourself safe, seek help immediately. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.  You can reach the National Suicide Hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or you can chat with them online at

Ways to prevent and fight depression:

*Note: Research shows that counseling is more effective for long-term improvement than antidepressants.  In my experience as a counselor, adding the treatment of an antidepressant to counseling can make counseling more effective.  Clients often report that on an antidepressant, it's like the heavy blanket that was weighing them down has been lifted. They're shocked to find that they are less irritable and less easily angered.  With the support of an antidepressant, they are able to effectively work through the underlying issues contributing to the depression.  And they're finally able to make use of the rest of the above tools to fight depression.  In sum, they feel like they're finally able to make the changes they want in their lives.

An antidepressant is not for everyone with depressive symptoms and is not a cure-all, but it can be a helpful tool to correct chemical imbalances in the brain contributing to depression.  (Important note: if you also experience periods of the following: racing thoughts, days with little to no sleep, increase in productivity/creativity, and high-risk behaviors (e.g. frequent sex or overspending), please inform your doctor/counselor so that you get the most accurate diagnosis and effective medication for you.)