Some signs of depression (and bipolar disorder) are obvious, but some less so. Here’s a few things to watch out for in your own or someone you care about’s behaviour.
Excessive internet use
Prefer virtual social events to face-to-face interactions? Spending lots of time on the internet? Addicted to Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Reddit? Studies have shown a link between high levels of depression and excessive Internet use.
Nearly a third of people who are depressed drink heavily. You might think that alcohol helps cheer you up, but you’d be wrong. Alcohol is a depressant, and drinking more of it just makes you more depressed. Drinking lots over a period of time deadens the effect of depression medication, leaving you with expensive urine.
Studies amongst the young and the middle-aged have shown that binge eating and obesity are closely linked with depression. Treating that depression can help.
Risky sexual behaviour
Depression is normally associated with a reduction in the libido. But some people use sex to cope with depression or stress. Increased promiscuity, infidelity, sexual obsession, and high-risk behaviour such as unsafe sex can all be signs of depression. They can also be signs of mania or hypomania in bipolar teens and adults. The behaviours can have serious effects on relationships and personal life.
Around a third of shoplifters report feeling depressed and for many it is the excitement of stealing, rather than the item being stolen, that triggers the most satisfaction. They crave the escape from depression’s ‘numbness’.
Having trouble quitting smoking? Being depressed doubles your risk of smoking, reports WebMD. “Heavy smoking––more than a pack a day––and having a cigarette within 5 minutes of waking are common habits among smokers who are depressed, according to the US CDC. While depressed smokers are less likely to quit, they can. Quitting programs that use techniques similar to those used to treat depression, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or antidepressant medications, seem to help.”
Most people who are depressed are ‘flat’ in their emotions. But occasionally they burst out in anger, excitement, or sadness and guilt, startling everyone around them. If a person who is usually flat with their feelings becomes hyperemotional, depression may be the cause.
Not taking care of yourself
Not fastening your seatbelt? Neglecting self-care can be a sign of depression, and with it low self-esteem. What’s the point of looking after yourself, like brushing your hair, cleaning your teeth, showering and wearing clean clothes when no one cares, the argument might go. If you get help for your depression you just might take care of yourself again, because you will find yourself worth it.
If any of these behaviours ring true for you, or someone you care about, talk to your GP or other mental health professional, like me.