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Watch out for hidden signs of depression in loved ones

The Covid-19 pandemic has put many people under a lot of mental strain due to the lockdowns, loss of business, reduced incomes and the whole new way of life.
Some people have lost their jobs, cancelled weddings, ended relationships and faced many other misfortunes that have resulted in them falling into depression.
Depression is a mental health condition that is life-altering for those experiencing it as well as those who care for them.
It may sometimes be difficult to recognise whether someone is suffering from depression and more difficult still to know what to do for your loved ones who are depressed.
Signs of depression
Most people feel low at times and may say they are depressed but such feelings generally pass. This is normal. If they persist for a long time and interfere with a person’s normal functioning this suggests clinical depression, which is a form of mental illness.
Some people with depression may try to hide the signs from others. In other cases they may not even know that they have depression. Although the typical symptoms of depression, such as sadness or hopelessness, can be easily recognised, there are other symptoms that may be less obvious.
Eating habits
Hidden signs of depression can include appetite and weight changes. Eating too much or too little can suggest depression. Some people turn to food for comfort while others lose their appetite or eat less due to their low mood. These changes in food intake can cause a person to start gaining or losing weight. Dramatic weight changes can also intensify depression as they can affect a person’s self-esteem.
Sleep
There is a strong link between mood and sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression, while depression can make it difficult to sleep. Some researchers suggest that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to depression. Sleeping too much can also be a sign that a person may be suffering from depression.
Alcohol or drug use
Many people resort to the use of alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings of sadness, loneliness or hopelessness. This can lead to an overdose of either of the two, which may be life threatening.
Fatigue
Feeling excessively tired is a common symptom of depression. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of people with depression experience fatigue.
It is common for people to feel tired from time to time. However, people who have severe or persistent tiredness that is complemented by other symptoms may have hidden depression.
Faking happiness
In some cases, people with depression hide their symptoms by putting on a happy face when in the company of others.
However, it may be difficult to keep up this fake happiness and the person may show signs of sadness, hopelessness or loneliness from time to time.
Lack of optimism
It is common for people with depression to have pessimistic tendencies. Those with a major depressive disorder often have a negative view of the future. There is a theory that people with depression may display a trait called depressive realism, which means that they may be more accurate in their view of events and the control they have over those events than people without depression. Being more realistic or pessimistic than others may be one sign of depression, especially if the person has other possible symptoms of depression.
Failure to concentrate
One of the signs of depression is when a person trails off during conversations or loses his or her train of thought. This indicates issues with memory and concentration, which is a common symptom of depression.
Lack of interest in hobbies
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities that one used to enjoy is another symptom of depression.
Physical pains and health disorders
Although depression is a mental health condition, it can also have physical consequences. In addition to weight changes and fatigue, other physical symptoms of hidden depression include backache, chronic pain conditions, digestive problems and headaches. Research also indicates that those with major depression are more likely than those without the condition to experience arthritis, autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes.
Irritability and anger
Although a lot of people do not associate irritability and anger with depression, such mood changes are not unusual among those with the condition. Instead of appearing sad, some people with hidden depression may display irritability or suppressed anger.
Low sex drive
Some health professionals consider changes in sex drive a key indicator for diagnosing episodes of major depression.
Reasons for a person’s decrease in libido when suffering from depression include fatigue and low energy levels as well as low self-esteem.
Common causes of depression
Researchers and scientists do not yet know the exact cause of clinical depression although many experts think that several factors play a role in its onset. These include genetics, biological and chemical differences as well as physical changes or chemical imbalances in the brain, which may contribute to the development of depression. Others include hormones, trauma or stress and personality traits.
The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — igo@cimas.co.zw or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.

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