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Mental Health: Depression

This article is quite important and relevant to our situation at this difficult time in the country’, when a sizable portion of our population may actually be depressed without realizing it or trying to hide it. Dr. John Grohol, an author, researcher, and online mental health expert who has been writing about mental health and psychology issues since 1992, is the author of the original version of this article.

However, the following signs may point to the depression that such people have been trying to hide.

  • Unusual sleeping, eating, or drinking habits that are not typical of a person’s nature.

When a person appears to have changed their sleeping or eating habits significantly, it is often a sign that something is wrong. When a person is unable to sleep (or sleeps for far too long) on a daily basis, this could be a sign of hidden depression. Others try to numb their emotions with food or alcohol.

Overeating can make a person feel less emotionally empty inside and help them cope with depression. Drinking may be used to help mask the sadness and loneliness that often accompany depression. A person can also lose interest in food or drink if they become depressed and stop eating or drinking.

  • They put on a forced “happy face” and are constantly making excuses.

Many people suffering from hidden depression try to spend as little time as possible with others. It’s difficult to see past the mask of happiness that people with hidden depression wear. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of it in an honest moment or during a lull in the conversation.

  • They may express themselves more philosophically than usual.

When you finally catch up with someone suffering from masked depression, the conversation may turn to philosophical topics they don’t normally discuss. These could include questions about the meaning of life or what their life has amounted to thus far. They might even open up enough to admit to having occasional thoughts of self-harm or even death. They might talk about finding happiness or a better path in life. These types of topics could indicate that a person is struggling internally with darker thoughts that they are afraid to share.

  • They may issue a cry for support only to withdraw it.

People with hidden depression struggle fiercely to keep it hidden. Sometimes they give up the struggle to conceal their true feelings and tell someone about it. Seeking help for their depression would imply that they are truly depressed. That is an acknowledgment that many people cannot make.

  • They feel things more intensely than normal.

A person with masked depression often feels emotions more intensely than others. This might come across as someone who doesn’t normally cry while watching TV suddenly breaking out in tears. It’s as if by boxing up their depressive feelings, other feelings leak out around the edges more easily.

  • They may be less optimistic than usual.

When people appear to have a more realistic view of the world around them, this is referred to as depressive realism. For example, those attempting to hide their depression may say things like, “I’m up for that promotion again, but I doubt I’ll get it.”

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional for effective suicide prevention intervention.

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