7 Things Hidden Depression Makes You Do

a couple talking to each other

Although depression has been reported by World Health Organization (2020) as the leading cause of disability and most common mental illness in the world, with over 264 million people around the globe suffering from it, the truth is, there’s still a lot that most people don’t yet know or understand about it.

Not only do many cases go undiagnosed and many symptoms go unnoticed, a lot of people seem to hold a misguided belief that depression looks the same for everybody, but there’s a reason why psychologists say “depression has many faces.”

So, want to know more about what hidden depression might look like and what it might make someone do? Well, here are 7 things you might be surprised to learn hidden depression can make you do:

1. Throw yourself into your work/studies.

When we think of someone struggling with depression, we often imagine a person who can’t even get out of bed in the morning, someone who spends all day just lying around and doing nothing because they can’t muster up any motivation. But that’s just a common misconception! Depression can also make us throw ourselves into our work or our studies as an escape mechanism to avoid spending too much time within our own minds (Abroms, 1981).

2. Express yourself through your creativity

Similar to the earlier example, another way depression may keep itself hidden is if it only manifests itself through our art and creativity. Do you find yourself writing a lot of sad songs or deeply melancholic poetry lately? Or maybe painting images that others say feels “tortured” or “haunting”? Or ending all your stories with sad conclusions? Take a good look at the art you make or gravitate towards, and ask yourself if this might be the reason why.

serious lady looking at sketch during painting in workshop

3. Spend more time with others

It’s no secret that one of the worst things depression can do is make us self-isolate and cut ourselves off from our loved ones. But did you know that the opposite can also be true? Sometimes, depression can make you want to spend more time with other people, but not for the right reasons. People struggling with hidden depression always want to have someone around because they’re terrified of feeling lonely, and depression can make us crave acceptance and validation from others more than is healthy (Miodek, Szemraj, & Rys, 2007). Which brings us to our next point…

4. Feel pressured to always seem happy.

When distinguishing between someone who is genuinely happy and someone who might have hidden depression, this is where it really starts to get tricky. Because the truth is, the differences between them tend to be very subtle, especially if you’re not the one personally experiencing it. But remember, there’s a reason why they call it “smiling depression”; because people who struggle with it tend to feel a lot of guilt for being depressed in the first place, and so, they tend to put pressure on themselves to always seem happy to those around them. They might even try to convince themselves that everything is fine when it’s really anything but.

5. Overthink everything

Contrary to popular belief, many people afflicted with depression have a lot going on in their minds, and it can get to be too much a lot of the time. A lot of those diagnosed with depression report a strong tendency to overthink just about everything. So much so that many of them end up fixated on past mistakes, perceived personal flaws, or even imagined problems in their relationships that aren’t even there! 

sad woman looking at anonymous woman during conflict

6. Lose focus or concentration.

Having said that, however, the opposite can still be true. Depression can either put our brains into overdrive, overthinking everything, or crash the system completely, making it difficult to focus or concentrate anymore. So if you’ve noticed yourself unable to think straight most days, blanking out a lot of the time for no reason, or struggling to do simple cognitive tasks that used to come easily to you, according to the American Psychological Association (2013), there’s a real possibility that this might be the reason why.

7. Disregard affection or concern from others

Last but certainly not the least, perhaps the worst thing depression can do to us is to blind us from all the care, concern, and affection we receive from other people without even realizing it. A lot of the time, friends, family, and even strangers will come up to us when they sense that something might be wrong or if they see us seeming down about something, but hidden depression can make us disregard these acts as simply being done out of pity or insincerity (Fisch & Gidon, 1986).

sad ethnic woman crying after being bullied by multiracial male students

So if you relate to any of the things we mentioned here and worry you might be suffering from hidden depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health care professional today and seek help. 

References:

  • World Health Organization (2020). Fact Sheet on Depression. Retrieved 11 March 2021 from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression#:~:text=Depression%20is%20a%20common%20mental,affected%20by%20depression%20than%20men.
  • American Psychological Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition. APA Publishing.
  • Abroms, G. M. (1981). The diagnosis and treatment of hidden depression. Psychiatric Quarterly, 53(4), 235-241.
  • Fisch, Robert Z., and Gidon Nesher. “Masked depression: Help for the hidden misery.” Postgraduate medicine 80.3 (1986): 165-169.
  • Miodek, A., Szemraj, P., Kocur, J., & Ryś, A. (2007). Masked depression–history and present days. Polski Merkuriusz Lekarski: Organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego, 23(133), 78-80.

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