Many people think they know what depression looks like. To most, people with depression might always look sad or cry a lot or never be happy. But the truth is, there are a lot more layers to depression than we think. The American Psychiatric Association lists many different presentations of depression- each with their own symptoms and differences.
Concealed, or hidden, depression is just one of these many presentations, and those who have it may be conditioned to act in protection of their symptoms and habits that allow them to continue hiding their depression. This article will help you learn about ten things hidden depression makes you do.
You change your sleeping or eating habits
Are you noticing that you’re always exhausted with no explanation, or maybe your eating habits have changed drastically compared to a while ago? Oftentimes, food can act as a coping mechanism for those hiding their depression. Overeating might help distract you from your own emotional emptiness and alcohol can be used as a vice to ignore sadness. On the other hand, losing your interest in food or drinking is also another change you might go through. It is strongly believed that there is a link between eating disorders and depression. Though the two are separate illnesses, a change in appetite or unusual eating habits may be an indicator of hidden depression. Additionally, exhaustion, perhaps from a lack of sleep is a common symptom of depression. Sleep is one of the foundations of our health, and neglecting it may be a sign something greater is wrong. Though not everyone experiences exhaustion, sleeping too much or too little may be another habit caused by hidden depression.
You become highly perfectionistic and self critical
Perfectionism can get the best of any of us at times. But if you are struggling with hidden depression, you might take it to the next level. Anything that is meaningful to you is worth doing well- basically perfectly. This can in turn lead to an excess of self imposed pressure and standards, and an influx of internal shame when these standards or expectations are missed or not met. Shame might govern your internal choices, and leave you unable to do things casually, potentially even burdening everyday activities or relationships.
You experience intense emotions
Emotions: processing them and understanding them are a big part of our lives and the growth we experience. But, sometimes they can be a little too much to handle. In the process of hiding your depressive feelings you might be more susceptible to being vulnerable with other emotions, like sadness, anger, or irritability. Though sadness or melancholy may be a stereotypical emotion to expect from someone with depression, it’s not always an interpretation of someone’s emotions. Irritability and anger come in when, by hiding your depression, you slowly lose the patience to keep up a pretense. Understandably, the work it takes to keep up with life can be draining if you’re also trying to project a good impression on everyone around you.
You have a hard time expressing painful or negative emotions
Contrasting the point just above, people with hidden depression can often run away from their own feelings. By keeping themselves in denial, sadness and anger can be avoided instead of heightened. According to Dr. Margaret R Rutherford, people hiding their depression might not know how to express these emotions, because they deny and avoid them so often. Instead, a lot of their time is spent inside their own head, thinking through things and analyzing them, instead of listening to their heart.
You become more introspective, with philosophy and purpose being big topics
If you’re hiding your depression, you might also be searching for a sense of purpose at the same time. As depression goes on, questions about what your life might mean, what life in general might mean, and what your purpose is may occupy your mind. Those with hidden depression are also often searching for purpose to fill up their own emptiness. Being introspective and contemplating life might be a big trait for some, but the implications behind wondering about both life and death shouldn’t always be ignored.
You become uninterested in activities you used to enjoy
Ultimately, hidden depression, though not an official name for mental illness, is still a type of depression. This means that the typical symptom of losing interest in activities you used to enjoy is ever present. Depression is not only mentally draining, but physically draining, making enjoying the things you usually do difficult, on top of making it hard to feel much fulfillment at all. Hidden depression might cause you to show a lack of enthusiasm, and be non committal about your happiness. You may not seem to care about much anymore, and take on a more pessimistic view of the world, lacking optimism that you might’ve used to have.
You cry out for help, and then make cover up excuses
With hidden depression, though many people may feel like their depression and feelings are invalid, they might still cry out for help. Eventually, holding in your hidden depression may become harder than you can manage, so you might turn to a friend, or even reach out for help from a doctor. Unfortunately, many might then realize that taking these steps would be admitting that they have depression, which is an extremely hard realization to come to, and something that they try and actively avoid. Instead, it’s easier for you to make excuses to backtrack on these steps, and avoid the attention, affection, or hello you might receive from others.
You care about others while also struggling with intimacy
We’ve touched on feelings in a few previous habits, and feelings associated with care and intimacy are no exception. If you are hiding depression, the vulnerability that is associated with intimacy may be hard for you. You are great at caring for others and caring about them, but when it comes to yourself and the relationships you have, you might find it hard to open up to others with the same compassion. There might be a fear of talking about your feelings of loneliness or emptiness with others, or, even worse would be someone invalidating your feelings and proving your worst fears correct. So instead, you might tend to focus on being productive and achieving success outside your personal life, such as in school or your career.
You focus too much on having gratitude
While gratitude is always a good thing to practice, if you’re hiding depression, you might use this practice as a way to invalidate your own feelings. If you find yourself having feelings of sadness or loneliness you might feel shame that you’re not happy. After all, you consider yourself to have many blessings, so showing yourself extra compassion or allowing yourself to feel negatively doesn’t seem like something you need.
You compartmentalize your feelings
Another part of invalidating yourself is through compartmentalizing feelings. Compartmentalizing your feelings means you rigidly sort them into “boxes” allowing you to push them away for later, or maybe even never. This is another way to avoid your feelings, and by locking away your own negative feelings, you dismiss experiences and feelings that might have caused you pain or are currently.
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