The 'silent' symptom of depression you might notice while making dinner | The Sun

DEPRESSION is a mental illness characterised by persistent low mood.

It's then no surprise that some of the most common – and well-known – symptoms are a lack of energy, sadness and crying.

But there is another, more surprising symptom, you might notice when making dinner, scientists have said.

Hyposmia, or a reduced sense of smell, has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in the past.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine, US, has discovered that a poor sense of smell is a sign of depression in older adults.

They found the worse a person’s sense of smell gets the worse their depression is.

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Lead author and psychiatry professor Vidya Kamath, said: "Smell is an important way to engage with the world around us, and this study shows it may be a warning sign for late-life depression.”

Around one in six Brits suffered depression in 2021, latest data show, up from one in 10 before the Covid pandemic.

Women are twice as likely to have depression as men, research has shown, but are more inclined to seek treatment.

Around 15 per cent get therapy or antidepressants, compared to 7 per cent of men with the condition.

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The latest study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, looked at how smell might be linked to depression.

Researchers looked at the data from 2,125 people between the ages of 70 and 73over an eight year period.

At the beginning of the study 28 percent showed a decreased sense of smell (hyposmia), and another 24 percent displayed a profound loss of the sense (anosmia).

During the follow-up period, a quarter (25 per cent) developed significant depressive symptoms.

Further analysis revealed those with decreased sense of smell at the beginning of the study were more likely to end up with depression.

Prof Vidya added: “Losing your sense of smell influences many aspects of our health and behavior, such as sensing spoiled food or noxious gas, and eating enjoyment.

"Now we can see that it may also be an important vulnerability indicator of something in your health gone awry,”

Researchers suggest the brain’s olfactory bulb, which processes smells, and the part of the brain responsible for emotions are closely linked.

However, depression can present itself in many different ways.

The NHS says the most common psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Tearfulness
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Being irritable and intolerant of others
  • Having no motivation or interest in things
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions
  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thinking of harming yourself

The physical signs of depression include:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Low sex drive
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle
  • Disturbed sleep

And symptoms you might notice in a social setting include:

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  • Avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
  • Neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • Having difficulties in your home, work or family life

Whatever symptoms you notice in yourself or someone else, it is important to seek help if they persist for more than two weeks.

How to get help

NHS talking therapies can help if you’re struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety or depression. 

Your GP can refer you or, in England, you can refer yourself online via

If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, NHS urgent mental health helplines offer 24-hour advice and support for people of all ages. 

Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline via (England only). 

The charity Mind also provides support to those that need it. Call 0300 123 3393.

If someone’s life is at risk or they cannot be kept safe, call 999

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