Most of us have heard of depression and its implications for those who live with it, but have you ever heard the term “silent” or “hidden” depression? This article will explore hidden depression and its causes and symptoms.

What is Depression?

Considered a mood disorder, depression is a condition that causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest and can lead to emotional and physical problems. Depression has many causes ranging from childbirth to having experienced childhood trauma.

Other possible causes of depression are as follows.

  • Mood dysregulation by the brain
  • Genetics
  • Highly stressful life events
  • Negative and stressful life
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Violence

Depression is life-altering, causing misery for both the person living with it and those around them. The good news is that it is treatable with medications and psychotherapy.

Clinical or major depression is the harshest iterations of depression one can suffer. Clinical depression is not the same as depression caused by loss. Instead, clinical depression is thought to be related to brain dysfunction.

Left untreated, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.

Smiling Depression?

If you have never heard of smiling depression, you are not alone. Most people have not but should know about it because it is dangerous to have and hard to detect. In smiling depression, one appears to be well-adjusted and happy, but their emotional turmoil and pain are hidden inside.

Smiling depression is major depression with symptoms that are not typical, and many don’t know that they are depressed or simply do not seek the help they need.

People with this type of depression hold jobs, have families, and have healthy social lives but struggle with emotions.

Inside the person with smiling depression and behind the mask, their minds are filled with unhealthy thoughts such as being worthless, inadequate, or not good enough plague them. These struggles may have gone on for years until something drastic changes the trajectory of their lives.

Frighteningly, there is a connection between smiling depression and completed suicide. Unlike those with major depression, smiling depression has surges of energy that precipitate suicidal ideation or actions. Other things that can push a person living with smiling depression might be the loss of a job, having a child, or divorce are predictors of suicide attempts among this population.

The symptoms of silent depression are very similar to those of depression, although they are masked. These symptoms include:

Physical. Feeling tired, run-down, or sick with headaches, muscle pains, sleep problems, significant loss or gain of weight, and stomach pain are only a few of the physical manifestations of most types of depression.

Psychological. Having a low mood or feeling sad, helpless, hopeless, and low and damaged self-esteem.

Other. Feeling self-loathing or performing reckless behavior.

The Signs of Silent Depression

People with silent depression may be no more aware of their condition than those around them. People who struggle with depression in silence often either do not recognize their condition or are too ashamed to admit they have a problem.

It is critical that people experiencing silent depression or any form of depression have as early intervention as possible. Below are some signs that you or someone you know may be a smiling depressant.

Withdrawal. Although not at all obvious to those with silent depression, withdrawal from everyday activities such as school, work, or interacting with loved ones is common among those with depression. The symptoms of depression cause a lot of trouble with fatigue as the symptoms suck their energy. Fatigue tends to cause people to push other aspects of their lives back and can lead to seeming dull.

Constant fatigue. Depression in any form causes massive fatigue leading to intrusive thoughts of hopelessness or emptiness. The fatigue felt by people with silent depression is not apparent to others, but these folks live in uncertainty when alone.

Perfectionism. Unlike clinical depression, some people hide their emotions by keeping busy at work, school, or home. Busyness is seen as a form of escape and keeps intrusive thoughts at bay. However, no one can keep up the façade forever, as when they go home from work or are alone again, they feel worse.

Telling their trauma history with a smile. Perhaps one of the most enigmatic symptoms of silent depression is how people with this disorder tell their stories to others. They may talk about what happened to them with a smile on their face while, deep down, they are suffering. Even in the therapist’s office, in the presence of a qualified therapist, they still keep their mask on and may even laugh about “how bad they were as kids.”

If you recognize yourself in any of these symptoms, it is good to seek out the help of a medical or mental health provider.

Why Don’t More People Seek Help?

Stigma, aka discrimination, keeps many from seeking and receiving the help they need. Any mental illness is considered a weakness, especially among men.

People do not seek help because they feel they would only burden someone with their problems or hurt them if they showed genuine emotions. If you recognize you have silent depression, you might rationalize that there is nothing wrong and that you are doing okay.

Yet others who have silent depression think that they have it easier than many people and have nothing to feel depressed about. Still, inside, they “hate” themselves and wish they were dead. They may also secretly feel that the world would be better off if they were not in it.

Ending Our Time Together

One of the first things my therapist told me when I entered therapy was that I am a smiling depressant. I don’t appear to behave differently and could smile and laugh while relating horrific stories about my history. She told me my smiling depression was the most frightening she had ever seen.

My therapist had to wait patiently for me to drop the façade and share how I truly felt with her. I did not cry in her office for the first two years of my care, and when I did weep, she and I rejoiced.

Smiling depression is a horrendous burden on the person it affects and those around them. When there has been a suicide attempt, those around the person with silent depression may act surprised and genuinely as they thought the hidden depressant was fine and thriving.

If you recognize yourself in these symptoms and signs, please seek help. It will be the best thing you can achieve, saving your life.

If you find you are in crisis, you can text 741741 or dial 988 to talk to a crisis counselor. The service here in the United States is free, and they can help you avert a tragedy.

Why do I want you to call or text for help? Because you are the only you in the universe, that makes you valuable and wanted.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say, “My tooth is aching” than to say, “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis