You may know someone who is clinically depressed or you may suffer from depression yourself.
However, there are several disorders that resemble depression that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Feelings of helplessness, anxiety and consistent sadness may look like depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but could also signify something like a vitamin deficiency or hypothyroidism.
Here are five conditions that may mirror depression, but to be successfully treated, need to be identified and tackled for what they actually are.
Someone with symptoms of depression may actually have hypothyroidism, aka an under-active thyroid, according to WebMD. To verify if this is the case, blood tests can determine if something’s awry with your thyroid or if your symptoms are solely depression—or both.
2. Lack Of Vitamin D
Yes, if you’re lacking in vitamin D, you may have symptoms of depression, such as having less energy and interest in everyday activities, according to the Vitamin D Council.
“Some of the receptors in the brain are receptors for vitamin D, which means that vitamin D is acting in some way in the brain,” states the Vitamin D Council. “These receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression.”
You may be familiar with serotonin, which is increased in people on anti-depressants. Vitamin D may increase the amount of chemicals called monoamines, like serotonin.
3. Caffeine Withdrawal
Cutting out caffeine is tough, and the symptoms associated with doing so can resemble depression and anxiety, according to Livestrong. For instance, your sleep patterns can change when you switch up your caffeine consumption.
And a lack of sleep can mean an increase in depression symptoms, like fatigue and trouble concentrating. Though caffeine withdrawal symptoms may be gone within two to seven days, it’s best to have a professional assist you before kicking caffeine on your own.
“If you have a history of depression, talk to your health care provider before making changes to your regular caffeine intake,” recommends Livestrong. People who are very sensitive to caffeine’s stimulant properties may experience more severe symptoms after eliminating caffeine.
Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be similar to depression, including fatigue and irritability, according to the Mayo Clinic. Hence, someone could have lower blood sugar but believe their symptoms are from depression instead.
In addition, people with diabetes sometimes develop depression as a result of stress from daily diabetes management, according to the American Diabetes Association.
If this occurs, one’s diet could be affected and blood sugar levels altered. People who suffer from depression may also be more likely to get diabetes and vice-versa, reports WebMD. When in doubt, it’s best to get any atypical symptoms checked out.
5. Bipolar Disorder
When someone is depressed, they tend to have symptoms like a loss of energy, persistent fatigue and the inability to make a decision. When someone is bipolar, they tend to have those same symptoms. However, there’s a difference.
With the latter, the person also has mania symptoms, states Everyday Health, such as excessive excitement or irritability, disturbed judgment and/or increased recklessness (e.g., involving money, drugs, alcohol or sex). A review of one’s medical history is necessary to tell the two disorders apart.
“The cyclical pattern of bipolar is distinct from depression, and the chemical signatures, or profiles, of the brain are different as well,” says Ruth Wolever, a clinical health psychologist and the research director at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine.
“Clinically, the depression phase of bipolar disorder and of major depression look the same. Therefore, unless the person with bipolar disorder is in a manic phase at the time he or she seeks medical help—or a hypomanic state, in the case of bipolar II—it’s through the medical history that a clinician will be able to distinguish between the two mood disorders.”
As with all medical conditions, we recommend that you see your general health care practitioner for an accurate diagnosis. But if you or a loved one suffer from the symptoms of depression, the sooner you identify the cause, the sooner you’ll be able to get the best help.