How Do You Know If You Have Depression: 11 Hidden Signs and How to Manage Them

Updated February 01, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Debra Halseth, LCSW

A person may be depressed and purposely choose to hide it from others, or they may not realize they are depressed. It is common for people to feel sad and hopeless with depression, but there are other signs people overlook because they are not as obvious. Sometimes the appearance of such symptoms may indicate an underlying medical condition. If you think you are depressed, it is essential to pay attention to the signs and be aware of what you’re experiencing. There are many resource tools, such as healthcare professionals and forms of therapy to help people manage their symptoms.

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Understanding if you have depression includes assessing your daily activities and recognizing if symptoms of depression affect your ability to complete tasks and interactions with others. While an online quiz or depression test may give ideas on what to look for in depressive symptoms, it is essential to understand what to look for when assessing your situation. Mental health experts recognize the following signs as typical symptoms of hidden depression:

  1. 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 lose your train of thought while having a conversation. A study suggests someone can experience a more challenging social and work life due to depression, along with concentration and memory issues.

  1. Changes In Sleep Patterns

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night or staying asleep most of the night? The amount of sleep you get affects your mood. It explains why some express a grumpy or cranky mood when they don’t get enough sleep. 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.

  1. Changes In Weight And Eating Habits

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

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  1. Substance Abuse

How often do you unwind with an alcoholic beverage? People may turn to alcohol or drugs when feeling lonely or sad. Sometimes a person may not realize they have a problem with substance abuse 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 has a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression. The figures are similar the other way around, with those having a mood disorder also likely to have a substance or alcohol disorder.

  1. 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 that force a smile at times could have significant depression. Some may recognize they need help but are not sure how to get it.

  1. Tiredness Or Fatigue

Do you feel tired or exhausted more often? 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. Others may be burned out from work or family. While most people feel tired from time to time, a depressed person may feel fatigued persistently or develop severe tiredness.

  1. Aches And Pains

Do you have aches or pains that come and go without a cause? Depression affects your mental health, but people 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 preexisting or chronic condition, depression makes taking care of yourself more challenging.

  1. 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. A depressed individual 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.

  1. Irritability

Do you feel bothered by others during the day or seem uneasy? Changes in mood 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 a form of suppressed anger or show a sudden change in their mood, giving the impression they don’t want to be bothered.

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  1. Loss Of Interest In Activities

Have you stopped doing an activity you loved? When living with depression, depression makes it almost impossible to engage in interesting activities or hobbies. 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.

  1. 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, feeling tired often, and lack of interest may also contribute to the issue. A depressed person may have relationship and communication issues with their spouse or partner, adding additional strain to the situation.

Why Does Depression Happen?

Many people living with depression question why they feel this way and want to know what is behind their sadness. Researchers are trying to understand why depression occurs. Various potential causes and risk factors may contribute to the onset of symptoms. As we learn more about depression, depression symptoms may occur for reasons such as:

  • Stress or trauma. Life changes, unexpected loss, feeling burned out, or overwhelmed are changes that may trigger depressive episodes.
  • Hormone changes or imbalance. Women may experience postpartum depression after childbirth due to body changes. Menopause and menstruation are other situations that may include hormonal imbalance.
  • Family genes. A person may have depression if there is a family history or be at risk of developing it if it runs in their immediate family.
  • Chemical differences. Physical or biological imbalances in the brain may increase the chances of developing depression.
  • Medical conditions or illness. Certain medications, physical or mental conditions could increase depression risk.

What Can You Do If You Have Hidden Depression?

People with hidden depression should discuss their situation with their doctor or mental health specialist. While there isn’t a specific depression test to learn if you have depression, your doctor may ask questions about your symptoms and ask about your health history. There are other things you can do to treat your symptoms.

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Learn effective methods for reducing stress, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Learn ways to boost your self-esteem. Try to engage in light social conversations with others. Try getting reacquainted with a hobby or activity you used to enjoy or consider trying something new. Engage in regular exercise. Look for ways to improve your diet. Ask a family member or friend for moral support or join a local support group. Take advantage of online therapy options to help you explore your thoughts and feelings.

Can You Help Someone You Suspect Has Hidden Depression?

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

When you or someone you know has depression, depression can make daily living a significant challenge, but there are 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 are providing detailed information about depressive symptoms you can research.

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 as well as online counseling and support groups providing ongoing support anytime you need it.


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