Disclaimer: This is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.
Do you feel that someone close to you has internal struggles that they fight every day?
No one likes battling depression, but many people bottle up their emotions and conceal their depression all to themselves. These feelings can hurl your friend into a state of despair and isolation that can be difficult for them to escape.
If you suspect your friend is hiding depression, here are some signs to tell
1. They’re pessimistic about the future
Does your friend feel hopeless about their future?
When you ask secretly depressed people about their plans, they would either act dismissive, curt, or avoidant. But in truth, these people often struggle to find meaning in their future and instead view it in a negative light. They likely have thought hard about it, but they always seem to end up just coming short in making sense of it. These feelings stem from a feeling of inadequacy – and can cause mental anguish to both them and their close friends.
2. They have a hard time concentrating
Do you often lose your friend’s attention when you speak with them?
Losing your train of thought during conversations shows memory and concentration issues, which is a common symptom of depression. These worsened memories make it even harder for these people to have an honest chat with their friends and family. Since it’s hard and draining for them to articulate it, they may end up pushing their thoughts aside and further concealing their burdens – which doesn’t solve any problems.
In cases like these, make a safe space for your friend for an honest conversation. If you see them struggling or talking badly about themselves, tell them that you can help piece their struggles together.
3. Their body undergoes big changes
Does your friend complain about pains and aches around their body, despite the absence of external injuries?
While depression is primarily a mental health issue, it can present itself in our bodies too. Gaining or losing weight are some signs of depression, but some symptoms like backaches, digestive problems, headaches, and chronic conditions are not uncommon with people with depression. Research further proves this. A publication in the Official Publication of the Indian Psychiatric Society reported that people with masked depression are more prone to chronic pain than those who don’t suffer from the illness.
So if your friend has unexplainable aches and is in a constant downcast mood, depression might be something they’re facing.
4. They get unusually quiet
Does it feel that your friend’s energy has been zapped for seemingly no reason?
While it’s normal to just have nothing to say at times, a pattern of long silence may be a sign of something stirring up underneath. While asking them whether they’re fine could temporarily bring their minds back to reality, they’ll eventually resort back to keeping everything to themselves as a coping mechanism. These friends may not feel sad, per se, but instead, feel a pervading feeling of dread and emptiness, internally asking themselves “What’s the point?”. Although they try to appear normal, and could successfully do so, enjoying a conversation with their friends still feels difficult. They’d much rather retreat to the solace of silence instead.
5. They keep conversations surface level
Does it sometimes feel like your friend has a brick wall put up?
Secretly depressed people can enjoy and have normal conversations, but when you prey on their innermost insecurities, they can feel the brunt of the pain again which forces them to hole back up. Feelings of betrayal from the past could resurface, transporting them back to how bad it felt during a time when they felt the brunt of the impact. Although their composure doesn’t waver and they don’t break down or lash out, they’ll stick with safe topics because they’ll know those topics won’t ever hurt them.
6. They smile to hide their pain away
Does your friend always brush off their feelings, and smile it away instead?
What makes depression so sinister is the number of depressed people who can hide it all behind a smile. They force a facade of happiness to free others from the burden of dealing with their problems. However, there are times where signs of this facade fall behind the cracks and show the shell of a lonely, sad, and hurting human in its wake. In cases like this, share your concerns with your friend and don’t hesitate to offer them emotional support. You may help them significantly in the end.
Have you seen any signs of hidden depression that your friend may be facing above?
Share this article with someone who may feel like they’re struggling and need help. Don’t hesitate to offer mental health support to your friends. It’s not easy to face it all alone.
That’s all for now Psych2Goers!
Naim, R. Oct 23 2017 The Sad Truth About Why People Build Emotional Walls. Retrieved at https://thoughtcatalog.com/rania-naim/2017/10/the-sad-truth-about-why-people-build-emotional-walls/
Shetty P, Mane A, Fulmali S, Uchit G. (2018) Understanding masked depression: A clinical scenario. Indian J Psychiatry. (60)1:97-102. Retrieved at doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_272_17
National Institute of Mental Health (nd) Depression Retrieved at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/
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Raypole, C. May 29, 2019 How to Help a Depressed Friend. Healthline. Retrieved at https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-a-depressed-friend