Recognizing Subtle Signs of Depression

November 21, 2018

student looking bored while sitting in class

When we hear people talking about depression, there are usually two or three symptoms that are always mentioned: feelings of hopelessness, prolonged feelings of sadness, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. While these symptoms are commonly associated with depression, they’re not necessarily the face of this condition for everyone.

There are many subtle depression symptoms that go unnoticed or overlooked, leaving those experiencing them feeling inexplicably “off.” But knowing why you’re feeling not-quite-yourself is the best way to start getting back to normal. If any of these depression signs sound familiar, it could be worth paying attention to.

Below are a few subtle signs of depression.

  1. Externalizing or Lashing Out
    It’s not uncommon for someone with depression to experience physical symptoms, like pain or trouble sleeping. These “external” symptoms are particularly prominent among men, but because depression is typically thought of as an emotional condition, these symptoms can often be attributed to other things.

    Hostility and irritability are along the same vein and can also occur with undiagnosed depression. If you notice yourself snapping at a coworker or yelling at your kids more often, it could be a sign of a deeper issue. Try asking yourself if your reaction is appropriate for the situation or if you’re feelings of irritability are playing a role.

  1. Trouble Concentrating
    Another frequently overlooked symptom of depression is difficulty concentrating. While focus issues are more often associated with conditions like ADHD, people with depression may also find it difficult to concentrate on a project or task. Circular and repetitive thinking is a possible culprit.

    People with depression (and possibly depression and anxiety) will oftentimes find their minds “stuck” on past experiences – regrets, embarrassing moments, unfished to-do lists – or future worries. This loop can be significantly distracting, resulting in past-due deadlines or missed homework assignments. This can be what actually drives a person to take a deeper look at their mental health.

  1. Perfectionism
    Perfectionism is often thought of as a positive trait to have, but it’s possible for it to do more harm than good for many people. For those with depression, perfectionism can stem from a cognitive distortion believing that making mistakes will cause others to stop loving or accepting them. This can lead to these individuals to set exceptionally high standards, and if those standards aren’t met, they can end up feeling like a failure.

    Because these expectations are set so high, many people will fall short of them, which can spark feelings of poor self-esteem, guilt, or embarrassment. This cycle can be increasingly harmful to a person’s mental health, so it’s important to recognize this pattern and find ways to stop it when it starts.

It’s normal to feel down or “off” from time to time, but when it begins to affect your quality of life, it might be time to seek help for managing your symptoms. Depression has many different treatment options – it’s just a matter of finding the option that will work best for you.

If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s med-free depression program, give us a call at 800.600.4096. We’d be happy to chat about how we may be able to help.

Walton, Alice. (2015, February 17). “Depression Isn’t Always What You Think: The Subtle Signs.” Retrieved from
Bhandari, Smitha. (2018, April 22). “What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Depression?” Retrieved from
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