Man at gym

Depression doesn’t only affect your emotions

By themselves, the symptoms below don’t convey a diagnosis of depression, but they can signal the possibility of depression. If you’re noticing these symptoms in yourself or someone close to you, it’s best to get them checked out by your doctor.

1. Change in sleep

  • You find yourself sleeping too little or too much.

Issues with sleep (not being able to fall or stay asleep or waking up too early) are a common symptom of depression. Around 90% of people with depression have problems with sleep.[1] Check out our sleep tips.

2. Significant weight change or change in appetite

  • Your weight and appetite are a lot less or a lot more than usual.

With depression some men may lose their appetite altogether and start to lose weight, while for others extra food and snacks can become a way to distract themselves from painful thoughts.[2] Check out our tips on healthy eating.

3. Change in activity

  • You feel as if everything (speech, thinking, moving) is slowed.[3] The opposite can also occur, whereby you feel very agitated and almost jumpy (such as finding it tough to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing).

4. Fatigue or loss of energy

  • You feel low on energy, even when you haven’t exerted yourself. This fatigue isn’t alleviated by rest or sleep.[4]

Some people describe this as feeling “heavy”, “weighed down”, or “burnt out.”

5. Physical Pain

  • You have recurring issues with backache, frequent headaches,[5] sexual dysfunction,[6] or digestive problems[7] that don’t seem to respond to normal treatment.

These pains aren’t tied to anything obvious like over-exercise, strained muscles or potential side effects with use of a new medication.

Fill out our Self Check to get a better sense if depression may be affecting you, or make an appointment to consult with a family doctor.


  1. Nutt, D., Wilson, S., & Paterson, L. (2008). Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 10(3), 329-336. 10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.3/dnutt
  2. Simmons, W., Burrrows, K., Avery, J., Kerr, K., Bodurka, J., Savage, C., & Drevets, W. (2016). Depression-related increases and decreases in appetite: Dissociable patterns of aberrant activity in reward and interoceptive neurocircuitry. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(4), 418-428.
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
  4. Park, S., & Kim, D. (2020). The centrality of depression and anxiety symptoms in major depressive disorder determined using a network analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 271, 19-26.
  5. Bair M., Robinson, R., & Katon, W. (2003). Depression and pain comorbidity. Journal of the American Medical Association, 163(20), 2433-2445.
  6. Atlantis, E., & Sullivan, T. (2012). Bidirectional association between depression and sexual dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9(6), 1497-1507.
  7. Mussel, M., Kroenke, K., Spitzer R., Williams, J., Herzog, W., & Lowe, B. (2008). Gastrointestinal symptoms in primary care: Prevalence and association with depression and anxiety. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64(6), 605-612.

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