Understanding 11 Hidden Signs Of Depression

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While it’s common for people to feel sad with depression, there are other less obvious or hidden signs of depression people often overlook. If you think you may be experiencing depression, paying attention to the signs and being aware of what you’re feeling is essential. A licensed therapist can also help you navigate your depression diagnosis and management.

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Noticing the hidden signs of depression in your life?

What are the signs of hidden depression?

One way to help establish if you are experiencing hidden depression is by assessing your daily activities to determine if symptoms of depression affect your ability to complete tasks and interact with others. Mental health experts recognize the following signs as possible symptoms of hidden depression:

Difficulty concentrating

Lately, have you experienced difficulty completing regular tasks due to a lack of focus? A common symptom of depression is the inability to focus or concentrate. It may be challenging to stay focused on a task or you may lose your train of thought while having a conversation. One mental health study suggests someone can experience a more challenging social and work life due to depression, along with concentration and memory issues.

Changes in sleep patterns

Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most of the night? The amount of sleep you get can affect your mood and any mental health conditions you might experience. It can help explain why some people express a grumpy or cranky mood when they don’t get enough sleep. Symptoms of depression can make it difficult for a person to get restful sleep. Many people experiencing sleep problems may have insomnia.

The National Sleep Foundation says people with insomnia are more likely to have depression, anxiety, or both. People may also experience depressive moods if they sleep too much.

Changes in weight and eating habits

Do you find yourself eating more unhealthy foods or skipping meals?  A sign of depression can be eating too little or too much. Food is known to be used for comfort while feeling emotional. Or, if your mood is low, you may not feel like eating much. As a result, your weight may fluctuate up or down. The severity of a person’s depression symptoms may also vary depending on how they view themselves or body type.

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Substance use

People may turn to alcohol or drugs when feeling lonely or sad. Sometimes people may not realize they have a problem with substance use because they don’t recognize how often they turn to alcohol or drugs when coping. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says roughly 1 in 5 with an alcohol or substance use disorder also has a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression. 

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Smiling depression

Do you feel like you have to put on a happy face to get through the day? People hiding their depression may force a smile on their face when around others. Also known as “smiling depression,” a person may carry on as if nothing is wrong. They may worry about what other people think about them or think people may see them as unreliable. Some individuals who force a smile could have significant depression. Some may recognize they need help but are not sure how to get it. Smiling depression may be difficult for people to recognize because they might begin to believe their reflex reaction to behave as if nothing is wrong. This is possible for all people with depression, but those with smiling depression may find it more challenging to overcome. Speaking with a trained mental health professional may help an individual discover whether they’re experiencing smiling depression or other symptoms of depression.

Tiredness or fatigue

Do you feel tired or exhausted much of the time? One of the most common signs of depression is fatigue. When you lack energy, you’ll feel tired or worn out. You may feel this way if you’re not getting enough sleep, or you may be burned out from work or family. While most people feel tired from time to time, a person with depression may feel fatigued persistently or develop severe tiredness.

Aches and pains

Do you have aches or pains that come and go without a cause? Depression affects your mental health, but people often experience physical consequences. Besides weight changes and tiredness, a person may experience headaches, backaches, digestion issues, and chronic pain. Some with major depression may experience other health concerns, such as heart disease, arthritis, or type 2 diabetes. If you have a pre-existing or chronic condition, depression can make taking care of yourself more challenging.

Pessimistic thoughts

Do you have a habit of looking at things from a negative standpoint? Some with depression may have a difficult time thinking positively about the future. An individual with depression may assume their judgment is more accurate than someone who may not have depression. In short, they may not have as much optimism as others.

Irritability

Do you feel bothered by others during the day? Mood changes are common with depression, but many may not associate it with depression. Some who are depressed may express irritability or anger instead of sadness. Some may show suppressed anger or sudden change in their mood, giving the impression they don’t want to be bothered.

Loss of interest in activities

Have you stopped doing an activity you loved? Living with depression can often make engaging in interesting activities or hobbies difficult. Lack of interest in hobbies is a common symptom, especially when a person becomes distant and doesn’t want to be around others. Activities once enjoyed are enjoyed no more.

Changes in sex drive

Do you look forward to being intimate with your partner? A person may not find sex as enjoyable if they are depressed. Other factors such as low energy, frequent exhaustion, and lack of interest may also contribute to the issue. A person with depression may have relationship and communication issues with their spouse or partner, adding additional strain to the situation.

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Noticing the hidden signs of depression in your life?

Can you help someone you suspect has hidden depression?

If you think a loved one is showing signs, encourage them to talk about their feelings with someone. Offer to listen to them without judgment. Encourage them to learn about treatment options. Offer moral support when they attend appointments. Engage in productive activities like exercise and socializing.

There are also help options available. Working with a healthcare professional such as a counselor or therapist is essential to understanding how your symptoms affect your life. While there are depression test options online that may give some insight, reputable mental health sources provide detailed information about depressive symptoms you can research.

A therapist can help you navigate the signs and symptoms of depression

Speaking with a therapist has been proven to help improve mood, thoughts, and physical functioning for patients with depression. Sometimes depression symptoms can make it hard to muster the energy to visit a counselor in person. 

Working with a therapist, including online therapists like those at BetterHelp, can help you find the relief you're looking for. Research finds that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy; it offers the convenience of not having to leave your home. A therapist can help you to identify where your depression is coming from, triggers that you face, and coping strategies to overcome it. You can read the reviews of our therapists below from people experiencing similar issues.

Takeaway

People with depression display different symptoms. The signs mentioned give a general idea of what to look for when suspecting depression. If you or someone you know are concerned about symptoms, you can get help. There are trusted mental health organizations and online counseling and support groups providing ongoing support anytime you need it.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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