Depression is a common mental health disorder, with studies showing that more than 264 million people suffer from depression globally.
The above statistics are harrowing.
Yet, a proportion of individuals with depression conceal their symptoms or hide their troubling emotions from their loved ones’ – mental health professionals often refer to this condition as “hidden depression.”
Various other terms describe hidden depression, including “concealed depression” or “smiling depression.”
Here, the individual will do all they can to cover up their true feelings or unpleasant symptoms of depression.
Such people present a happy, cheerful disposition to the outside world, but internally they struggle with classic symptoms of depression.
This article explores the hidden signs of depression, what to look out for, and when to seek treatment.
Reaching out for support.
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or another mental health condition, contact one of our specialists at Camino Recovery for further help and support.
Let’s start by looking at some of the warning signs of depression.
Warning signs of depression
Although depression can affect how people function (among other things), the condition doesn’t always present in the same way.
All this may make it confusing for you to spot the signs of depression in someone you care about, but once you understand what to look out for, you may be better positioned to offer help and support.
Some people have high-functioning depression, which means they can continue with their daily lives, such as going to work, engaging in family and social life, and other activities.
Unlike those whose functioning might be impaired by mental illness, people with high-functioning depression can often maintain their energy, cheerfulness, and performance despite living with depression.
You may find that your loved one can carry on with daily tasks and may even appear happy or cheerful, but those with hidden depression may display specific signs and symptoms associated with their condition.
Why do people hide their depression?
It’s common for people to hide their symptoms of depression out of shame, fear, or because they don’t want to worry their family and friends.
Others may struggle with perfectionism and use this to cover up their depression by overachieving at work, sports, or other pursuits.
Guilt, shame, and embarrassment are also significant markers of depression.
People often struggle with guilt or shame as part of their condition; thus, admitting they have a problem may exacerbate these feelings further.
So, many often conceal their symptoms of depression under a veneer of joyful emotions such as happiness, cheerfulness, or humour.
The hidden signs of depression everyone should know.
The following symptoms may help you determine whether you or a loved one need to seek treatment for depression from a mental health professional.
Below are some of the hidden signs of depression you should know.
1. Changes in sleep patterns
Symptoms of hidden depression leak out in various ways – changes in a person’s sleep patterns can strongly indicate that someone may be struggling with a mental illness like depression.
Depression can make it challenging to have a peaceful, restful sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, those with insomnia are likely to have other conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
All this may explain why many people with depression frequently complain of tiredness.
Depressed individuals may have difficulty getting to sleep at night or staying asleep.
It’s also common for people with depression to sleep less or more than usual.
2. Smiling depression
Individuals who conceal their depression by putting on a “happy face” while in the presence of others tend to suffer from depression quite profoundly.
These individuals may appear smiley or happy and carry on as if nothing is wrong.
People with smiling depression may know something is wrong with them, but they don’t want to bother people out of fear that others will see them as weak or unreliable.
All this can cause significant depression if left untreated.
3. Substance use
Another indicator that someone may have hidden depression is substance abuse.
One study showed that around one in five individuals with an alcohol or substance use disorder also has a concurrent condition, such as anxiety or depression (The Anxiety and Depression Association of America).
4. Fatigue or tiredness
Another symptom that people with depression often display is constant exhaustion or fatigue.
All this goes beyond the normal tiredness you may experience when burning the candle at both ends.
When a person is depressed, they frequently lack energy or feel worn out.
While fatigue is common for most of us, particularly during busy periods, people with depression may persistently complain of exhaustion or develop severe tiredness or fatigue.
5. Negative thoughts
Depression can distort our thoughts and how we feel and behave.
When a person has depression, they may look at the world through a pessimistic lens and have trouble thinking positively about the future.
Some research literature shows that people with depression often use specific language.
For example, they may use more statements that include terms such as” me” or “I.”
Researchers say all this may be because depressed individuals are more reflective than others; other black-and-white terms like “never” and “always” are also commonly used in those with depression.
Those suffering from depression often see things in black-and-white; therefore, all-or-nothing terms (like the ones above) are more common in people with the condition.
If you are wondering whether your loved one may have depression, it might be helpful to know the type of vocabulary people with depression may use.
Since guilt is a prevalent symptom of depression, you may hear your loved one say things like, “everything is my fault,” or “I should have acted sooner.”
In addition, other terms with a negative connotation, such as “should” or “I can’t,” are all statements that may signify your loved one is suffering from depression.
6. Changes in eating habits and weight
Depression symptoms can also be present in a person’s eating habits and weight.
Perhaps you notice your loved one’s weight fluctuating or that they are eating too much or too little.
In addition, your loved one may skip meals altogether or eat unhealthy foods, including fast food or foods that contain a lot of sugar.
All this can cause an individual’s weight to see-saw; they may lose weight or put it on, which may add to a person’s symptoms of depression, mainly if they develop a negative view of their body.
7. Irritability and mood swings
Emotions such as rage, anger, and irritability are common in those with depression.
These feelings often conceal deeper, underlying problems such as sadness, repressed emotional pain, or trauma.
Generally, people tend to be more comfortable expressing anger than sadness – being angry requires less vulnerability, but it may also mask deep-seated worry or fear.
Mood changes are also prevalent in depression; a person may experience various mood changes throughout the day and may not always associate this with depression.
How can you help someone who is depressed?
If you think that a loved one may be struggling with hidden depression, the first thing you can do to help is to offer emotional support and a comfortable, safe space for them to air their feelings.
Depression can make simple tasks seem monumental; even talking for too long can be exhausting for some. Offering your loved one a compassionate, non-judgmental ear can make a massive difference in how they feel.
Encouraging your loved one to seek treatment for depression can also be helpful; treatment options for depression include talking therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, individual therapy, and trauma treatment.
If your loved one has a co-occurring condition alongside depression, such as an addiction to alcohol or drugs, in that case, exploring substance addiction treatment programs at an inpatient facility can be extremely helpful.
A therapist can help you or your loved one unpack any troubling thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that can contribute to depression or make it worse.
In therapy, you will explore any unhelpful patterns that may be holding you back.
In addition, your therapist will help you to understand your symptoms more and how they may affect your life. The most important thing for you to remember is that you are not alone.
Depression doesn’t have to be a way of life – it is a treatable condition, and with proper treatment and support, recovery is possible.
How Camino Recovery can help
If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, please reach out to a team member at Camino Recovery who can help.
We treat and diagnose various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, substance addiction, and more.