The term ” smiling depression “, where people appear happy to others while suffering from depressive symptoms internally, has become increasingly popular. Articles on the subject have appeared in popular literature, and the number of Google searches for the condition has increased dramatically this year. Some may question, however, whether this is really a true pathological condition.

Smiling depression: it is possible to be depressed while being happy

While smiling depression is not a technical term psychologists use, it is certainly possible to be depressed and successfully mask symptoms. The closest technical term for this condition is “atypical depression.” In fact, a significant proportion of people who experience a bad mood and a loss of pleasure in activities manage to hide their condition in this way. And these people could be particularly vulnerable to suicide.

Difficult to detect people with smiling depression

Smiling depression sufferers can be very difficult to spot . They may seem like they don’t have a reason to be sad – they have a job, an apartment, and maybe even kids or a partner. They smile when you greet them and can carry on pleasant conversations. In short, they put on a mask to the outside world while leading seemingly normal and active lives.

Inside, however, they feel hopeless and dejected, sometimes even having thoughts about finishing it all. The strength they have to carry on with their daily lives can make them especially vulnerable to carrying out suicide plans. This is in contrast to other forms of depression, in which people may have suicidal thoughts, but do not have enough energy to act on their intentions.

While smiling depressed people put a “happy face” on the outside world, they can experience a real lift in their mood as a result of positive events in their lives. For example, receiving a text message from someone you really wanted to hear from or be praised at work can make you feel better for a few moments before feeling bad again.

Symptoms of atypical depression

Other symptoms of this condition include overeating, feeling a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, and being easily hurt by criticism or rejection. People with smiling depression are also more likely to feel depressed at night and feel the need for more sleep than normal. However, with other forms of depression, your mood may be worse in the morning and you may feel the need to sleep less than you are normally used to.

Smiling depression seems to be more common in people of certain temperaments . In particular, it is related to being more likely to anticipate failure, having difficulty overcoming embarrassing or humiliating situations, and tending to ruminate or think excessively about negative situations that have taken place.

Charging and treatment for smiling depression

It is difficult to determine exactly what causes this type of depression, but a low mood can be caused by a number of things, such as work problems, broken relationships, and feelings as if life has no purpose and meaning.

It’s very common. About one in ten people are depressed, and between 15% and 40% of these people suffer from the atypical form that resembles smiling depression. Such depression often begins early in life and can last for a long time.

If you suffer from smiling depression, getting help is especially important. Unfortunately, however, people with this condition generally do not, as they do not believe they have a problem in the first place; This is particularly the case if they appear to be continuing with their daily tasks and routines as before. They may also feel guilty and rationalize that they have nothing to be sad about. So they don’t tell anyone about their problems and end up feeling ashamed of their feelings.

So how can this cycle be broken? A starting point is knowing that this condition really exists and that it is serious. Only when we stop rationalizing our problems because we think they are not serious enough can we begin to make a real difference. For some, this idea may be enough to turn things around, because it sets them on a path to seek help and break free from the chains of depression that have been holding them back.

Exercise and meditation can help

Meditation and physical activity have also been shown to have enormous benefits for mental health. In fact, a study conducted by Rutgers University in the US showed that people who had done meditation and physical activity twice a week experienced a nearly 40% drop in their depression levels for just eight weeks. after the study. Cognitive behavioral therapy, learning to change thought and behavior patterns, is another option for those affected by this condition.

Searching for a purpose in life can be a solution to hidden depression

And finding meaning in life is of the utmost importance. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl wrote that the cornerstone of good mental health is having a purpose in life . He said that we should not aspire to be in a “tension-free state”, free from responsibilities and challenges, but rather that we should strive for something in life. We can find purpose by taking attention away from ourselves and placing it elsewhere.

So find a worthwhile goal and try to make regular progress on it, even if it’s for a small amount each day, because this can have a positive impact.

We can also find purpose by caring for another person. When we take the focus off and start thinking about someone else’s needs and wants, we begin to feel that our lives are important. This can be accomplished by volunteering or caring for a family member or even an animal.

Feeling that our lives matter is ultimately what gives us purpose and meaning, and this can make a significant difference to our mental health and well-being.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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