In this guide, we will discuss what concealed depression means, key signs, and symptoms and why it can be considered to be dangerous.
People who suffer from concealed depression are said to be experts in hiding their symptoms from others. They are used to keep their emotions and thoughts to themselves, making people believe they are as happy as anyone else when in reality, they are struggling internally with a sense of deep sadness or trying to find their life’s purpose. In some cases they may even have suicidal thoughts.
This is also called “smiling depression” since the person suffering from it live their lives fulfilling their responsibilities, interacting normally with other people and not complaining about how they feel or show how they are actually feeling. Many people go through life trying to hide their depression so they become very good at it.
In addition, most people with concealed depression won’t accept they are depressed and won’t acknowledge how severe their symptoms are. They believe that if they carry on with their lives as they have been doing so far depression will go away at some point.
There is a very important question and that is What are some of the signs/symptoms? Or how can I spot it in a loved one or myself? Well, if you find yourself feeling low but you make everyone else around you believe you are fine and happy, then you may be suffering from concealed depression.
In addition, some other signs related can be changes in your sleep patterns and eating habits, feeling anxious, scared or worried, constantly making excuses not to go out or to interact socially with friends or family. Also, they may appear and talk with a very philosophical perspective such as the meaning of life or death, talking about finding happiness or a better path in the journey of life.
Concealed depression requires a lot of effort so they may struggle a lot to keep it hidden from others. They may even at some point reveal they’re true feelings and they may even make an appointment with a professional but they most likely will never go since it means they are accepting they are truly depressed and don’t want anyone else to know about it because it will make them look weak and vulnerable.
If you know someone that may have concealed depression or you think you have it yourself then it is important to reach out and seek professional help for a complete assessment. A mental health professional will suggest, after a thorough assessment of the next step, most of the times it is therapy or counseling.
In the case it is someone you love, they may have difficulties expressing how they feel and they most likely will be scared of being abandoned. Try reaching out to them and ask them if they would like to talk. If they actually trust you then just try being there for them, making sure they are aware you care and you’ll be there no matter the circumstance.
Dangers of concealed depression
Many try ignoring the symptoms hoping they will just simply go away but the truth is that they can actually get worse and can lead to other problems. According to bridgestorecovery.com some problems you or a loved one may experience by pretending there is nothing wrong include:
- Weight loss or gain from losing your appetite or turning to food for comfort
- Misuse/abuse of alcohol or other substances
- Physical pain or illness
- Social withdrawal leading to isolation
- Conflict in relationships
- Self-destructive behavior such as cutting
Concealed depression: Characteristics
Not everyone will manifest these characteristics but they are said to be fairly consistent, so look out for the 15 characteristics we will tend to manifest.
- They are perfectionists with a sharp self-criticism inner voice
Perfectionists clearly demand a lot from themselves, everything needs to be done perfectly or it is not worth doing in the first place, especially when you are going to be evaluated or seen by others so this involved being criticized. Before the eyes of others, you appear as the perfect husband/wife/parent/daughter whatever your role is and if you are not living up to the expectations then you start letting shame control and govern your life, behavior and personal choices.
- Excessive sense of responsibility
This characteristic refers to being aware of obligation, duties, and loyalty. They tend to be the first people to notice there is something wrong and attempt to find solutions. They are leaders but not the best delegators. Their sense of responsibility can become very painful as they will tend to blame themselves which can leave them vulnerable to being manipulated.
- Focus on tasks, using accomplishment as a way to feel valuable.
They tend to feel very insecure or scared, where they use certain activities to distract themselves from reality and where their source of reinforcement is an accomplishment. In general, all human beings try to do this to a certain extent.
According to Dr. Margaret Rutherford, “If you’re having a bad day, it feels good to get something done that perhaps you’ve been putting off. Or you get a promotion at work. Or someone emails you about how your kindness was so meaningful to them. There’s value in purpose and effort.”
The problem here is that they tend to carry it too far from the perfectly hidden depression. Some people may actually lose the sense of self or what they like about themselves, which brings out a sense of esteem, outside external achievements.
- They are often quite talented and very expressive.
Suffering from depression is so common not even famous people can escape from it. “If you really think about it, this is in some form a source to their greatness,” says Geral Sinclair from Columbiawell.org.
Their work reflects their internal struggle but sometimes we tend to dismiss it, being able to create something beautiful out of immense darkness and feelings of sadness/grief that consumes them from inside out.
- A constant search for a purpose
Since ancient times, humans have searched for the meaning of their existence or the purpose of their lives. In fact, we tend to look for reassurance that we are in some form doing something meaningful.
People suffering from concealed depression are not an exception. They also look to know the reason for their existence. They are more emotional and vulnerable to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety which leave them searching for something they never seem to achieve on their own.
- They tend to make muted cries for help
Some people know when to ask for help and some others know they need help but are too afraid to ask. When we are not expecting someone to feel weak or to be down in the dumps, we don’t see their cries for help. However, if you notice their cries and can help them in any way, you are creating a very close and trust-filled bond with them.
- They interpret substances differently
Someone with concealed depression or depression for that matter, know what kind of substances help ease their pain. They are actually aware that sugar and caffeine can boost their mood and some medicines can help too. They actually have to put a lot of effort into feeling better, unlike most people but it is not as simple as taking a Tylenol when you have a headache.
- Often think about the perception of life/death
People with concealed depression and depression in general, tend to ask themselves about life’s deepest questions and their own existence at moments. They seem to change from one mindset to another in the blink of an eye, however, not everyone who is depressed will deal or have suicidal thoughts but some others will.
- They experience changes in their eating habits
Everyone is different, but people with concealed depression may probably lose their appetite when they are feeling at their lowest, however, for some, it can have the opposite effect and will find comfort in food.
- They have sleeping pattern disturbances
People with depression will have disrupted or disturbed pattern of sleep, where they can often sleep for what seems like or may literally be days. Sleep at times can be impossible while other times could be the only thing they feel they can actually do. When a person is depressed they are dealing with a state of helplessness that will change their world entirely.
- They have abandonment issues usually
We are no strangers to the feeling of abandonment, we all have felt it at some point. When someone walks out of your life it can be devastating, but this has a higher impact on people with depression. They become very suspicious, anxious and scared about their loved ones abandoning them.
- They are always making efforts to seem happy.
People suffering from depression learn to fake their moods and often will appear as happy and normal from their outside. However, when they let their inner struggles appear on the outside they feel as if they are bringing others along with them.
- They seek love and acceptance
People with concealed depression don’t tend to hide their depression because they are dishonest, they just want to avoid getting hurt. All they want is to be loved and accepted like everyone else.
- They have difficulties switching off their brains
In most cases, people with concealed depression tend to process everything going on in their lives at a fast speed. They tend to over-analyze the good and the bad making everything impact them much deeper. Their brains are like sponges absorbing everything that comes their way.
- They always think of the worst-case scenarios.
It is said that depression may be linked to high intelligence making them good problem solvers, for the most part. However, this can become very stressful at times it can also be beneficial.
As discussed, if you or someone you know is suffering from concealed depression get them help or seek help yourself. Struggling in silence or alone is not going to make any difference.
Why is this blog about concealed depression important?
Depression is a very common mental disorder and it is one of the most disabling also. Many people with concealed depression try so hard to hide their depression so no one around them is aware of it. They have a lot of skills to convince other people they are happy and fine, however, they are struggling inside.
If you or someone you love has concealed depression, and if you have identified some of the characteristics we have mentioned, it is important to seek professional help. Please feel free to comment in the comments section below.