Disclaimer. This article is for educational purposes. It is not a diagnosis. Please seek professional counseling if you feel that anything in this article applies to you.
There is a lot of information and resources that list symptoms of depression. Most articles that talk about depression paint a picture of someone lying in bed under the covers without any energy or motivation. Although fatigue is a telltale sign of depression, it is not the only one. There is a myriad of subtle personality shifts that occur when you slip into a depressive state.
- Emotional Toggling
Emotional toggling refers to an extreme shift in emotions. A happy moment can take you out of your blues, but only for a moment. You may experience radical shifts in emotions where one moment you feel at your lowest, and in the next moment, you feel euphoric. Emotional toggling can be confused for hypomania, and thus be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, but it also affects people with depression. These up days are usually caused by external factors like a promotion at work or good news. Though you may not seem depressed, at the moment, internally you may still be battling with depression. These intense mood swings damper your moments of success or happiness and can make you feel confused about your emotions.
Though forgetfulness is a common trait of depression, it is a trait typically overlooked. It is easy to ignore because a lapse in memory happens. It happens to everyone. However, absentmindedness caused by depression happens because the person is ruminating. They are, most likely, trapped inside their mind. Additionally, depression affects your memory. Studies show that depression can produce short term memory loss.
One way to tackle depression fog is through exercise. It may seem counterintuitive because you might not have energy, but exercising gets you out of your head.
- Inability to concentrate
Depression can also affect your concentration. Concentration problems are attributed to ADHD, but it can also be a sign of depression. Depression is a private battle where you battle your mind. In a depressive state, you experience intrusive thoughts about worthlessness and sadness. Sometimes, depression can cause you to ruminate. Rumination and negative intrusive thoughts distract you from your work or push you to engage in self-soothing habits, such as distracting yourself with your phone or scrolling through YouTube. Concentration issues can set you back on your assignments. Thus, causing you to miss deadlines and assignments.
If you find yourself ruminating or dealing with intrusive thoughts, take a moment to observe them. Breathe and step back from your mind. You can also try to find an activity that grounds you in the present. Yoga and meditation are good practices that can help you get out of your head.
- Extreme Guilt
Though experiencing guilt from time to time is not an indicator of your emotional state, excessive guilt is a sign of depression. In fact, it was listed as a symptom in 1994 by the American Psychiatric Association. The guilt you experience in a depressive state is all-consuming. The guilt you feel prevents you from seeing past your mistakes. It snowballs into feeling guilty for forgetting a birthday to feeling guilty for being born. The guilt someone with depression experiences snowballs and can get to a point where it pushes them towards suicidal thoughts or ideations.
Guilt is something that happens privately. It festers during stifled pauses in a conversation and hides behind self-deprecating jokes.
- Rigid perfectionism
This point somewhat connects to the point above. According to Shannon Kolakowski, author of When Depression Hurts Your Relationship, having and holding yourself to rigid ideals are contributors and byproducts of depression. In the context of depression, perfectionism belies the idea that others will love you if you are perfect. It conflates your self-worth to what you do. Unfortunately, this makes you susceptible to easily lapse into depressive episodes, especially when something goes wrong.
To better deal with perfectionism and depression, try to be compassionate. Consult a therapist to learn techniques, such as CBT, to fight self-blame.
Depression comes in all shapes and colors and affects us all differently. Hence, unfortunately, there is no cure-all for depression. We all have to learn to manage it the best we can. If you need help, please reach out to a counselor or therapist.
Herrick, Lexi. “11 Habits of People With Concealed Depression.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 30 Aug. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/11-habits-of-people-with-_b_6384062.
Legg, Timothy J. “Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?” Healthline, 13 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-and-memory-loss.
Nelson, Jennifer. “The Lesser-Known Symptoms of Depression.” Next Avenue, Next Avenue, 6 Aug. 2020, www.nextavenue.org/lesser-known-symptoms-depression/.
Walton, Alice G. Depression Isn’t Always What You Think: The Subtle Signs. 18 Feb. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/17/the-subtle-symptoms-of-depression/?sh=2869f1d51a3e.
“What Are the Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression?” Bridges to Recovery, www.bridgestorecovery.com/high-functioning-depression/signs-symptoms-high-functioning-depression/.
Yombor, Tara. “Uncommon Signs And Symptoms Of Depression You Should Know About.” The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale, 11 Feb. 2020, thepsychologygroup.com/uncommon-signs-and-symptoms-of-depression/.