Mental health disorders like depression affect millions of people worldwide, and this number only seems to be growing. Unfortunately, the numbers and statistics on depression usually only include the people who are actually diagnosed, leaving out the possible thousands and even millions who are not. Those who suffer from “silent depression” and choose to not get help either due to embarrassment, shame, pride, or simply a lack of knowledge make the total number jump up significantly. Today our Pompano rehabilitation center is sharing the signs of silent depression that we tend to miss.
Signs of a Silent Mental Illness
The saying “depression is a silent killer” rings truer now than ever. Many people think depression is just sadness, crying, or dressing in black, but the truth is that mental illness isn’t always that obvious. Many people struggle with depression in silence because, one, they’re either too afraid or ashamed to ask for help or, two, they don’t realize they need it.
Early intervention of mental illness is crucial for helping a person get connected to a support system and treatment, and this starts with being able to recognize the warning symptoms of a hidden mental illness. Below are some common signs of silent depression that can shed light on a difficult situation.
Constant Fatigue or Low Energy
Depression can lead to extreme fatigue or low energy levels, where even simple tasks like getting out of bed will make someone feel like they're running a marathon. The constant, intrusive thoughts of hopelessness and emptiness combined with low appetite and trouble sleeping also contribute to both physical and psychological fatigue.
Withdrawing From Activities, School, Work, or Loved Ones
Withdrawal from activities, school, work, or loved ones is one of the most common signs of mental illness. Symptoms of depression, including fatigue, tend to take up the person’s energy and thoughts, leading them to push other aspects of their life to the back burner. Depression also leads to anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure, making once enjoyable activities suddenly seem dull.
Eating Too Much or Too Little
Increased or decreased appetite are also common signs of silent depression that we tend to miss or brush off as the result of other factors. A sudden weight change – whether it’s gaining or losing weight – is a major red flag for depression. While some people don’t want to eat because of their symptoms, others might turn to food for comfort. Either way, look out for this sign, especially if the individual has a history of depression or has displayed other symptoms of depression.
Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
In addition to fluctuations in eating, fluctuations in sleep may also indicate someone’s silent suffering from depression. According to a study on 2,800 people with depression, 97% reported that they can’t get any sleep, including 58% who struggle to fall asleep, 59% who can’t fall asleep after waking up early, 59% who wake up in the middle of the night, and 31% who sleep too long. Considering the importance of sleep for cognition, physical and psychological performance, energy, and mood, any imbalance regarding sleep can severely impact an individual’s physical and mental state.
Perfectionist or Workaholic Behavior
While the stereotypical person with depression is usually shown as someone who always lays in bed or never leaves the house, being too productive can also indicate quiet suffering from depression. Some people try to cover up their emotions by keeping themselves busy, whether that’s at work, school, or at home. They see work as a way to escape how they feel and attempt to experience some form of satisfaction. However, this kind of behavior can easily lead to burnout, which can make their symptoms worse.
Lack of Emotion
Another common sign of silent depression is a lack of emotion. When we have conversations about people with mental illness, the focus is often on the person’s feelings. As a result, a lack of feeling is rarely addressed as a typical symptom of depression. However, as we mentioned earlier, the inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia) as well as feelings of emptiness and emotional numbness are common among people with depression as the disorder sucks the motivation and color out of everything. So while we have off days, it’s important to note if someone loses the ability to experience joy or happiness for an extended period.
Where to Get Help
If you’re struggling with depression or suspect that you are, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Our Pompano Beach treatment center offers mental health treatment for various types of disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and others.
We also offer addiction treatment, which includes psychotherapy. Many individuals with mental illness turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms, so we seek to make their recovery smoother by offering all of the services they require to heal in one place.