Depression affects 14.8 million adults in the United States, but many hide their symptoms away from peers, colleagues and even loved ones. Some people have become so adept at “bottling up” their depression that you would never be able to tell the fight they endure daily to stay strong and put on a bright face.
Living with depression is no easy feat. Tasks and chores that were once easy and enjoyable become difficult. It is not uncommon for people with depression to also develop anxiety and vice versa, making daily worries and concerns seem like insurmountable obstacles. If dealing with depression is so difficult, then why do some people hide it away from others?
People who hide their depression away have their own reasons for doing so. Depression and mental health are highly stigmatized in Western culture especially in today’s world where we are bombarded with memes on Facebook to “just be happy.”
Some people may not want to be labeled by talking about it, while others cannot afford treatment. Other people may feel like they have to put-on-a-bright-face. Whatever their reasons, concealed depression still lurks beneath the surface.
10 Things People With Hidden Depression Do
You may be able to relate to some of these things. The following habits and traits are typical of people who may be hiding away depression. While these are common signs of depression, they could of course indicate something else is at hand.
1. They don’t “look” depressed.
There is no style or unkempt look of depression. Someone with depression may continue to groom and style themselves as they normally do. They may also continue to keep up appearances. They may even put on a happy face when they’re around others.
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2. They feel emotions more intensely.
Just as someone might be easier to anger, someone hiding depression might also feel other emotions much more intensely as well. They may find it easier to cry during sad movies or empathize easier with others.
3. They are more irritable, angry or upset.
We all too often associate depression with sadness when in reality for many of us, it can manifest as anger, irritability or general upsetedness. Things that wouldn’t normally upset someone can cause a meltdown. If someone seems more touchy or explosive than usual they may be trying to keep a cap on their depression.
4. They have changed attitudes towards food.
Food is comforting. Someone trying to hide depression may turn to overeating as a way to hide their feelings, triggering a spike in weight gain. Conversely, someone could lose interest in eating and experience a loss in appetite.
5. They have unusual sleep habits.
Although they may not seem depressed, they may be sleeping differently. They may be sleeping too little, or they may sleeping more often. Depression affects a healthy sleep cycle (and vice versa), and any disruption to sleep is an indication of poor health, or depression, elsewhere.
6. Withdrawing from social activities.
Oftentimes when someone is hiding depression they may begin turning down invitations to socialize. Someone who usually spends time with a small group of friends may stop showing up, using explanations such as being tired or not feeling well.
7. They may quit activities they once loved.
Likewise, if someone suddenly stops doing something they enjoy without explanation it’s a red flag for depression. They may offer no explanation or make excuses for why they stopped. They may say they no longer find it enjoyable. This lack of interest is a a clear sign of hidden depression.
8. They may not respond well to concern or affection from others.
When someone steps in or tries to show someone hiding depression concern or affection, they may not respond well or at all. They may be oblivious to the concern, or they may respond defensively.
9. There are ups and downs.
It seems that there are always really good days and really bad days for a person hiding depression. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other on any given day. They may not say they’re depressed, but the pictures they paint with their daily words can speak volumes.
10. Conversations change.
Someone hiding depression may turn conversations about the weather to more verbose topics, such as life or death and the journey towards happiness. Such heady topics, while not seemingly indicative of depression, can signal that there is more on their mind than day-to-day life. Likewise, someone who used to have a lot to say, may suddenly go quiet. Changes in how conversations go can be an indication of hidden depression.
Depression is not something anyone should have to hide away or suffer through. Although it can be challenging to live with, depression treatment is available and is often successful.