Smiling depression is a type of depression where you have depressive thoughts like worthlessness, hopelessness, and sadness, but you’re able to hide them through a happy external appearance. Although smiling depression isn’t a clinical diagnosis, for many people, it’s a real problem. Consequently, this type of depression often goes undetected because when most people imagine a depressed individual, they think of someone who looks sad or cries a lot. And while it’s true that sadness and unexplained bouts of crying are common characteristics of depression, not everyone looks sad when they’re depressed. In depression with atypical features, you may also feel temporarily better when good things happen. But this is brief throughout a depressive episode. This is what makes atypical depression atypical because you can feel momentarily cheered up.
This can also lead to beliefs or patterns where you constantly seek out experiences to lift your mood to avoid depressive symptoms. If you have smiling depression, you probably seem accomplished and “put together” to those around you. You may also worry that sharing your feelings will cause others to judge you. A person who suffers from smiling depression could be feeling sadness for many reasons, including a breakup, a job loss, or even the loss of a loved one. They might also be struggling due to a lack of purpose in their lives or a feeling that something isn’t right, even though they can’t articulate what that is.
What Are the Causes of Smiling Depression?
The following are some of the reasons why people decide to put on a mask of happiness when inwardly depressed:
- Stigma: People with smiling depression may fear being labeled as weak and rejected by others due to the stigma and prejudice surrounding mental health disorders, so they hide symptoms and put on a positive facade instead.
- Ignorance and Poor Understanding of Mental Health Challenges: People who lack understanding about depression are less likely to recognize the signs and seek help. They might assume they don’t have depression and instead believe they just need to be “stronger” or more “successful”.
Smiling depression may stem from a person’s denial that they feel depressed. They may think that as long as they’re smiling, they must not have depression. Many people cannot admit that there might be something wrong with them. It’s easier for them to pretend like they’re fine than it is to open up about how they truly feel.
- Fear of Consequences: Some with smiling depression may worry that if they tell others about their depression, it could affect their work-life, they might lose respect from friends, or their partner will break up with them, So, rather than risk being judged or punished for being depressed, they hide behind a smile.
- Societal Expectations: Society can sometimes pressure people to act a certain way. For example, men with depression might suppress their feelings because others expect them to be “tough.” People can also have unrealistic expectations of themselves; perfectionism causes them to disguise their symptoms because they want to appear perfect.
- Unrealistic Views of Happiness: Social media portrays happiness unrealistically. Many people scroll through social media and see pictures of happy people. Consequently, they grow to believe that they’re the only ones struggling with mental health issues. They may feel more isolated than ever and it could cause them to hide their struggles.
- Guilt: Someone with smiling depression might have a great job, family, and friends, so they believe they have no reason to be depressed. This makes them feel guilty and ashamed of being depressed when they have a “good life,” so they keep it a secret instead.
- Don’t Want to Burden or Disappoint Others: People who have many responsibilities or are used to taking care of others may find it hard to ask for help themselves. They keep their depression a secret because they don’t want to let others down or trouble them.
Symptoms of Smiling Depression
Many of the classic symptoms of depression can also affect those with smiling depression; it’s just that they can hide them well in public. These symptoms can include:
- Feeling Down: Sadness, guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, or low self-esteem.
- Appetite Changes: Weight gain or loss due to overeating or a loss of appetite.
- Uninterested: Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
- Sleep Changes: Struggling to get out of bed and oversleeping or trouble getting to sleep and insomnia.
- Suicidal or Dark Thoughts: Ruminating about death or thinking about self-harm and committing suicide.
- However, some of the other classic symptoms of depression may present differently, or not at all in those with smiling depression, such as:
- Fatigue: People with depression often experience tiredness, lethargy, and low energy, but those with smiling depression may have high energy levels or only experience these symptoms when they are alone.
- Social Issues: People with depression often struggle socially; they might avoid others and isolate themselves. But those with smiling depression can have an active social life, including close family, friends, and a career.
Treatment of Smiling Depression
Therapy: After many months of trying to ignore their symptoms, individuals mostly try to seek outside help. Therapy sessions can help people suffering from smiling depression come out of their suffocating cobwebs of depression. Depressed people often have inaccurate or negative interpretations of small situations. A therapist can help him/her see things from a different perspective and change the distorted thought process and feel more positive and happier in life.
Medication: There are many medically reviewed solutions as well as classes of prescription that help to treat smiling depression. People with smiling depression should see a medical doctor if all other methods do not work.
Continue your day-to-day work with normalcy: The depressed person should continue doing his socializing, work, and day-to-day activities as if nothing is wrong. Time would eventually heal his problem with proper medication and counseling but there is no need to quit your work and sit at home. Socializing, meeting new people, and getting busy with work helps one get rid of depression.
Healthy diet: A healthy diet is a key to all the health and happiness in the world. According to some doctors, a gut is considered to be the ‘second brain’ of the person and whatever we put inside it helps to improve the mental health of the person. Serotonin is an enzyme secreted in the gut which helps to regulate a person’s mood. Anxiety or depression is often triggered by a lack of serotonin. Some vegetables, oats, healthy carbs, whole grains, and barley help to increase the production of serotonin in the body.