The phrase “smiling depression” or in other words looking happy while you feel depressed inside yourself has become extremely popular.
Sadly, the reason is that more and more people seem to be hiding their emotional pain and sufferance by wearing a mask of happiness.
Somebody suffering from smiling depression may be able to have a “good” life or at least to pretend they do.
Often, these individuals maintain an image of absolutely ordinary people who may even be successful at their personal and/or professional lives.
That’s why finding out that someone is suffering from this type of depression can be tough. Usually, these people look like they have it all – a job, a home and possibly a family. They laugh when something funny happens and are ready to tell you a joke. In short, they pretend to be happy and smile to the outside world while they go through deep emotional pain inside themselves.
What the ones who are affected never show others is that they constantly feel helpless and desperate, to to the point they could even have suicidal thoughts. The huge amount of energy these individuals use to live a normal life makes them more vulnerable. And could also produce feelings of hopelessness. That often makes them think that the best solution to their problems would be to “end it all” or in other words put an end to their lives.
Other typical signs of smiling depression are anxiety, despair, resentment, exhaustion, impatience, and discouragement.
Those suffering from this condition and other forms of depression may also suffer from insomnia, feel indifferent to activities they once liked, and lack sexual desire.
Another critical thing to point out is that smiling depression could be associated with the “atypical depression”.
This is the case because of the so-called mood reactivity. That means noticing an improvement in your mood when something good happens. In contrast, if someone suffers from melancholic depression, good things couldn’t influence his or her life and attitude positively.
Up to now, specialists have not officially recognized smiling depression as a mental condition. But, its name explains how the affected individuals manage to mask the symptoms of their depressive moods.
What could trigger smiling depression? Here are a few possible factors:
Major changes in life
Similarly to other forms of depression smiling depression can be provoked by an unpleasant life event — like divorce or losing a family member. And the worst of all is that it’s a permanent state, not a temporary condition.
Some people are unable to control their thoughts and emotions and consequently, are more vulnerable to negativity and at a higher risk of suffering from depression. Usually, these individuals don’t dare to live according to their values. That’s why they could easily become overwhelmed by the outside world. However, they don’t have any idea how to take care of and protect themselves from negativity which is why they could start feeling depressed.
If you keep the negative emotions to yourself for fear of being judged
Sometimes due to stigma and prejudice, people avoid sharing their negative emotions with others. For instance, expressing emotions may be seen as “seeking attention” or a way of revealing your flaws to the people.
This is especially true when it comes to men who live with the idea they need to protect their masculinity. Or in other words, “tough guys” who never show their weaknesses or negative emotions because “real men don’t cry.” That is also why men seek professional help for their mental problems much more rarely compared to women.
Social media leaves us with the false impression that the lives of others are perfect. While our own life is far from that. But we all know this is not true. People wouldn’t exhibit their problems publicly. And we all know that every person (even the most successful one) has their bad moments and personal or professional struggles.
Yet, looking at pictures and posts on facebook, twitter or Instagram that present only the bright side of someone’s life could lead to losing our realistic idea about what is good and bad. And make us feel depressed because our life is not going that well.
We sometimes overestimate things and people and have higher expectations. Especially when other people’s points of view influence us. That could lead to disappointment once these expectations are not fulfilled. And disappointment could very quickly become depression (smiling or any other type of this disorder).
How to treat this type of depression?
The treatment options are the same as the ones for the major depressive disorder. They consist of taking medications, undergoing psychotherapy, and changing the way you think and live.
But before all the people who are affected should talk about their problem with someone. It could be a friend, a relative or a professional. Keeping your depression hidden behind a smile and making a false impression that everything is OK could worsen your condition.
I Heart Intelligence strongly recommends that you seek professional help if your depression symptoms become too severe.