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3 Uncommon Depression Symptoms

Depression can be seen on a spectrum. It can range from mild depression and sadness to a debilitating and life-threatening illness. There are many articles on the symptoms of depression, but there isn’t much talk about the possible odd facts associated with this mental illness.

  1. Depression can cause vivid dreams

It is well known that depression causes issues in sleep. One of the symptoms in the DSM-V is insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping). However, people with depression can experience more frequent and vivid dreams. In my clinical practice, I have noticed that people will first talk to me about their “crazy” dreams, before they can recognize other more common symptoms of depression. Often these dreams are disturbing to the clients.

It is well known that depression involves changes in brain chemistry. The lack of serotonin and dopamine (the feel good neurotransmitters) in the brain during REM lead to less “good” and more vivid and disturbing dreams.

2. Depressed people get sick more often than non-depressed people.

People with depression often have weakened immune systems. People become more susceptible to common illnesses such as a cold or flu and infections. Depression is also associated with higher levels of stress hormones (cortisol). A person with depression is 2-5 times more lively to suffer a second heart attack within the first year. It can also lead to restricted blood vessels and increase in aches and pains.

3. Depression isn’t just sadness.

When people think of depression, they often see the woman crying in bed all day or the lady in the commercial that can’t get up off the couch. However, in different people, sadness may not be the overwhelming feeling.

Often, men with depression present with problems associated with anger and aggression or irritability. Anger is safer than sadness for men. It can be seen as more socially accepted. When working with men and women with anger, I have found that an unresolved stress or loss is often the cause. In children, fussiness, clinginess, acting out behaviors and staying to themselves more often. These symptoms can often be misdiagnosed by even well-intentioned therapists as other disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, impulse control disorders or attachment disorders.

While these things can be caused by a variety of issues, they may signify depression. If you or a loved one has been experiencing depression, it is important to get help. Major Depressive Disorder can become life-threatening if not treated. Please call a local therapist or talk to your doctor today. There is hope in all our stories.

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