Recognizing Subtle Symptoms of Depression

Subtle Symptoms of Depression

What is Depression?

Depression is one of the most widely misunderstood mental health conditions. If you’ve ever suffered from it, you likely understand why. The term is casually thrown around in everyday conversation as a catch-all for sadness, which waters it down for those who are struggling. This leaves most people to think of sadness when they hear the term ‘depression’. Those who’ve experienced clinical depression know it’s more complicated than that. Depression is a low mood disorder that persists over an extended period of time. It’s not just sadness, but drawn-out periods of apathy, emptiness, and an overall disinterest in life. It’s more than a negative mood – depression is also a chemical imbalance that affects the brain’s ability to regulate itself. For this reason, you can’t tell someone they just need to “snap out of it”.

It’s estimated that over two-thirds of depression cases in the US go undiagnosed. Untreated depression increases other health risks like weight gain or loss, heart disease, and problems with sleep. Not only that, long-term and overlooked depression is shown to lead to brain damage. Many times, people wait until depression has corrupted every aspect of their life and they can no longer ignore it. It’s important to understand that it’s never too soon to seek treatment for your mental health. Treatment can add years onto your life and demonstrates to those suffering silently that it’s normal to get help. Whether you’re looking for preventative measures or you suffer from extreme fits of depression, our counselors and therapists at Dr. Messina and Associates are here to be your guide.


5 Subtle Symptoms of Depression

Depression is misunderstood for many reasons, and one of them is the way it presents itself. Mental health always looks different from person to person, and depression is no different. The obvious signs of depression are prolonged sadness, suicidal, and a general disinterest in life. But there are other less talked about signs that get looked over. Here are a few of them.

Irritability and Anger

If you find yourself short tempered, hostile, and overly critical of yourself and others, it might be time to reach out for help. Things that we usually see as minor irritations can cause us to explode when our mental health is especially shaky. Depression affects our overall wellness, and negative thought patterns alongside poor sleep and fatigue are bound to cause emotional outbursts. It can feel like everything is wrong and we are powerless. Anger and irritability is a more common symptom among men, but it can affect anyone.  

Physical Discomfort

Physical symptoms often manifest during a depressive episode but it’s easy to overlook them. Common physical symptoms with no obvious cause such as low back pain, muscle aches, and headaches can be linked to depression. A lot of the time, these symptoms are vague and ambiguous, which is why we fail to notice what’s really going on. Depression causes us to self-isolate and feel chronically fatigued. In turn, we spend less time moving our body, which can help contribute to these aches and pains. Either way, physical pain is closely linked to the state of our mental health.

Forced Happiness

Many who suffer from depression look just like anyone else. You’ll see them smile, laugh, and even achieve things. It appears as if nothing is wrong. There are several reasons someone disguises what they’re going through. Feigning happiness can be a “fake it til you make it” approach people use in hopes of eventually just getting better. Sometimes it’s an unintentional coping method being used by someone who isn’t aware they’re struggling with depression. The stigma behind mental health is another common reason, leaving most people to struggle in silence.

Memory and Concentration Issues

You might be inclined to think you’re just a little forgetful, but the profound effect that depression has on our brains can say otherwise. If you experience regular brain fog and have trouble focusing on daily tasks, this could be a sign of depression. If left untreated, depression is known to significantly increase the risk of dementia. Fortunately, with proper treatment memory issues and cognitive function can go back to normal.


This can look innocent such as eating lots of food or drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, or it can be a more serious problem, like drugs and alcohol. Without proper guidance and treatment, it’s only natural to look for our own ways to soothe the pain. Unfortunately, we’re often prone to reaching for self-destructive coping methods that relieve our pain in the moment, rather than heading to the gym or going to therapy.


A Message of Hope

Depression is not a life sentence. The disorder might have you convinced that there is no hope but this isn’t true, and recovery is possible. It’s important to have a support system in place and to take your struggles seriously. If depression is taking over your daily life and you find it impossible to manage, our psychologists and counselors want to help you find your way out. We have a range of treatment options at your disposal.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you. Our Psychologists and Counselors specialize in psychotherapy (in-person and online teletherapy options). Our psychologists also specialize in psychological testing in-person at our DFW (Southlake) Offices. Our psychiatrists offer specialized psychiatric services in-person and telepsychiatry online to all residents of Texas. If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are available to help.


Dr. Michael Messina

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