Since we are all unique individuals, it makes perfect sense that we would treat something as personal as ours depression It may look different for everyone. However, we tend to associate depression with the “classic signs” and often outgrow atypical depressive symptoms. But it must be said: The ways in which we express mental health conditions such as depression are complex.
It is also human nature to categorize our experiences, the things that happen to us, and how we see the world in a more black and white mold. It’s easy for our brains to say: Depression looks like X and decides whether (or where) we fit that definition. However, the truth is that beauty and oftentimes the battles in life come from our subtle differences. I see this idea play out a lot in my work in medicine. Each body is an individual, in its own individual space—physically, mentally, and emotionally—and its life experiences up to this point influence everything about it. even so genetic levelOur experiences affect us.
Featured image by Riley Reid.
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The importance of understanding atypical depression
The point I make is that it’s important to think outside the box when it comes to the range of human experiences we might have, particularly in how we see Psychological health. As a society, the more comfortable we become with talking about mental health, the more we learn. The classic signs of depression are there for a reason — because they’re the most common. However, it is also important to consider what we call in medicine the “zebras in the room,” or in other words, the display of atypical depressive symptoms.
According to a 2021 study covered by the National Institutes of Health, “nearly half of Americans surveyed reported recent symptoms of an anxiety disorder or depression.” The data shows that “rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder have increased since the beginning of the pandemic.” With the increase in stress and drastic shifts in the way we live our lives, it is not surprising that you or someone close to you may be suffering from anxiety or depression.
Below, we dive into what depression looks like and how atypical depression manifests so you can learn what to look for or maybe even seek treatment.
What is depression?
The signs and symptoms listed below are what we know to be the most common sign and hallmark of depression. As a caregiver, I have found that many of my patients in the non-medical community do not fully understand the breadth of symptoms depression can cause in someone’s life. It’s more than just grieving or crying. Depression has the potential to affect us not only mentally but physically.
Many of my patients report feeling completely helpless or overwhelmed with dread and sadness. It can envelop your entire being and is not something that is easy to “get out of”. Here is a list of the most common symptoms of “typical” depression:
- Irritability, impatience, hostility, tantrums, even over little things
- Irregular behaviour, such as hanging up on someone or driving aggressively
- Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or sadness
- Loss of motivation or interest
- Lack of energy and slow speech, movements, or thoughts
- Back pain, headaches and other physical ailments with no apparent source
- Poor thinking, concentration, memory and decision making
- Constant feelings of guilt, anxiety and self-blame
- Insomnia, or sleeping too much
- Significant changes in appetite leading to weight loss or gain
- Recurrent thoughts of death, or suicidal ideation or attempts
What is atypical depression?
According to the Cleveland ClinicAtypical depression is at least twice as likely to affect women from a man. In addition, atypical depression tends to start at an earlier age (the teen years and early twenties) and last longer (often becoming a chronic condition) than typical depression. Symptoms of atypical depression can vary from person to person.
Despite the name, atypical depression is more common than is widely known. The Cleveland Clinic also reports that 121 million people globally suffer from depression, while 18 to 36% of those 121 million show atypical symptoms rather than the standard signs of depression. Note: it is also is found That there is an increased risk of suicide and anxiety disorders with atypical depression makes it all the more important for ‘other’ depression to become widely known and understood.
Noticeable signs and symptoms of atypical depression include:
- Depression that goes away temporarily in response to good news or positive events
- Increased appetite or weight gain
- Sleep a lot but still feel sleepy during the day
- A heavy, leaden feeling in your arms or legs that lasts an hour or longer
- Sensitivity to rejection or criticism that affects your relationships, social life, or job
What do I do if I’m worried?
When you are depressed, it can be difficult to take steps toward recovery, and a challenge to find the energy to call on a therapist or even talk to someone about it. There is good research that for mild to moderate depression, talk therapy may be just as effective as medication. I always recommend therapy, a healthy diet, and exercise as the first step in sifting through muddy waters.
Connect with a therapist
Psychology Today It is a great resource for finding a therapist. By entering your insurance and zip code, you can contact therapists in your area. Because of the general lack of mental health support in America, it can be difficult to find someone who takes new patients. But don’t give up! If the therapist is fully booked, ask if they can refer you to other specialists or if they have a waiting list.
to remember: Not every processor will be a good fit. No different Online datingIt doesn’t always work! Consider your first date a date to get to know you. Many therapists will also offer a free initial consultation.
There is nothing wrong with using medication to help lift you out of a slump or for long-term use. Sometimes we need some medication to help us get to a place where we can start exercising, eating healthy, and attending regular appointments. It is important to set expectations beforehand that not every medication is appropriate for every person. It can take a few tries to find the right medication, and that can be hard when you’re already not feeling well. Most mental health medications take 4 to 6 weeks to feel the full effect, so don’t despair if you don’t feel better right away.
Remember: life is full of highs and lows
If you’re low now, you can start climbing from where you are to higher ground. Consider telling supportive friends or family what you’re dealing with and asking for support. Sometimes asking a partner or friend to check in weekly can hold you accountable for your own progress. Like when we’re depressed, our lack of motivation and drive can weigh us down from accomplishing even the simplest tasks. But never give up.