Some people deal with hidden depression on a regular basis. Just think for a minute about what depression looks like. Most likely, you pictured a sad person who has trouble smiling or even getting out of bed. Maybe they skip social events or give up on looking their best. While depression does affect some people this way, it is also important to know that it can take a completely different form than you might expect when people are adept at disguising their symptoms.
For some people, depression still carries a stigma that they attempt to avoid by hiding their inner most thoughts. Others may not even realize that they are depressed due to a past trauma, or they may falsely believe that it will just go away on their own if they feign happiness long enough.
Unfortunately, depression that goes unrecognized can lead to unhealthy behavior patterns and even suicide. This makes it even more important to know how to recognize these signs of hidden depression so that anyone who is concealing their pain can get the help they need to make life enjoyable again. Here are the signs:
1. Their Basic Habits Have Changed
When a person is depressed, they often experience problems with their sleep and eating patterns. Contrary to popular belief, not every depressed person sleeps all the time and skips meals. Instead, someone who is hiding their depression may experience insomnia or eat more than usual. So, that friend who keeps staying up all night might actually be battling depression.
2. They May Still Be Outgoing and Cheerful
Extroverts tend to thrive on being around crowds, and someone with hidden depression may still be the life of the party. However, this is usually due to a person’s tendency to want to keep everyone else happy, even when it is hurting just to smile. You may notice, though, that the happiness seems slightly “false” in someone that you know well. The mask of happiness may also briefly crack during lulls in the conversation and action.
3. They Keep It Short and Secret
Trying to keep up a façade of happiness is exhausting, and someone who is hiding their depression will know that they can’t keep the act up for long. Therefore, they may still show up at social events but avoid lingering. They may also have a ready list of excuses to fend off invitations, or they will slip out early when they think no one is looking.
4. They Explore Deep Topics of Conversations
When you do finally get someone with hidden depression to talk, you may be surprised to find that conversations take a deep philosophical turn. Your once-lighthearted friend who loved celebrity gossip and fashion talk may suddenly begin delving into the meaning of life. During unguarded moments, they may say things such as how they just want to find happiness (to end the pain once and for all).
5. Their Other Emotions Become Intense
People who spend a lot of energy trying to bottle up their pain will eventually have other emotions slip through. Yelling in traffic, having a heated argument at work or laughing intensely at a lame joke are signs that a person is not completely in control of their emotions. They may also choose to cry when they feel as though it is more socially acceptable such as sobbing excessively during a wedding.
6. Their Optimistic Attitude Nosedives
Interestingly, depression can cause a person to look at the world through a more realistic lens. For example, depressed people will give themselves a harsher self-evaluation after they finish a test than non-depressed people. Since this viewpoint has some grounding in reality, it often gets missed when a person is hiding their true feelings. When this happens, you may notice someone you know doubting their ability to conquer a goal when they once would have tackled it with gusto.
7. They Struggle With Returning Affection
Depression does not always equal sadness. Instead, some people may feel numb. Since they are cut off from emotions, they may find it hard to respond appropriately when someone expresses affection. They may ignore your words and gestures of affection completely, or they may get upset at something as simple as a compliment since they are unable to process the reasoning behind it.
8. They Have Good Days
The feelings that accompany depression can come and go, which means your friend may have days when it seems like nothing is wrong. While it is great to take advantage of those days, it is also important to avoid thinking they have completely recovered. This way, they won’t be tempted to hide their feelings when they experience a down day.
9. They Start Needing More Help
Productivity often takes a hit when a person isn’t feeling their best, and fighting through depression occupies a lot of a person’s time and energy that can cause problems getting things done at work and home. Getting mad at them, however, will only make matters worse since they are dealing with a true health problem. Instead, it is best to let them know you care and extend a helping hand until they feel better again.