The term "smiling depression" – seeming happy to others while suffering internally from depressive symptoms – has become increasingly popular. Articles on the subject have been published in popular literature and the number of Google searches on this disease has increased significantly this year.
Some may, however, wonder if it is a true pathological condition.
Although depression is not a technical term used by psychologists, it is certainly possible to be depressed and successfully mask the symptoms. The closest technical term for this condition is "atypical depression".
In fact, a significant proportion of people who have a low mood and a loss of pleasure in the activities manage to hide their condition in this way. And these people could be particularly vulnerable to suicide.
It can be very difficult to spot people suffering from depression. They can appear as if they had no reason to be sad – they have a job, an apartment and maybe even children or a partner. They smile when you greet them and can lead pleasant conversations.
In short, they put a mask on the outside world while leading an apparently normal and active life.
Inside, however, they feel hopeless and depressed, sometimes even thinking of everything. The strength they have to lead their daily lives can make them particularly vulnerable to the realization of their suicide plans.
This contrasts with other forms of depression, in which people might have an idea of suicide but not enough energy to act according to their intentions.
Although people with a smiling depression have "a happy face" in the face of the outside world, they may experience a real upsurge of mood as a result of positive events in their lives. For example, receiving an SMS from someone they are eager to hear or be congratulated at work can help them feel better for a few moments before becoming weak again. .
Other symptoms of this disease include overeating, feeling heavy in the arms and legs, and being easily hurt by criticism or rejection.
People suffering from depression are also more likely to feel depressed at night and feel the need to sleep longer than usual. However, with other forms of depression, your mood may get worse in the morning and you may feel the need to sleep less than usual.
Smiling depression seems to be more common in people with certain temperaments. In particular, it is linked to the fact that it is more inclined to anticipate failure, that it is difficult to overcome embarrassing or humiliating situations, and that it tends to ruminate or think excessively about negative have occurred.
The magazine Women's Health captured the essence of smiling depression – the facade – by asking women to share photos of their social media, and then recapture them on Instagram with what they felt actually when they took the picture. Here are some of their messages.
Charge and treatment
It is difficult to determine exactly what causes the smiling depression, but a low mood can come from many factors, such as work problems, a broken relationship and the feeling that your life has no meaning or meaning.
It's very common. About one in ten is depressed and between 15 and 40% of them suffer from an atypical form that looks like a smiling depression. Such depression often begins early in life and can last a long time.
If you suffer from smiling depression, it is therefore particularly important to get help. Unfortunately, people with this condition usually do not, because they may not think they have a problem in the first place – this is especially the case if they seem to continue to perform their tasks and daily routines as before.
They may also feel guilty and justify that they have nothing to fear. So, they do not talk to anyone about their problems and end up ashamed of their feelings.
So, how can you break this cycle? A starting point is to know that this condition really exists and that it is serious. It is only when we stop rationalizing our problems because we think that they are not serious enough that we can start making a real difference.
For some, this idea may be enough to change things because it puts them on the path to seeking help and freeing themselves from the chains of depression that held them back.
It has also been shown that meditation and physical activity have enormous benefits for mental health. In fact, a study by Rutgers University in the United States showed that people who practiced meditation and physical activity twice a week had a fall of almost 40% in their level of depression in eight weeks only.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves learning how to change your thinking patterns and behavior, is another option for people affected by this disease.
And finding meaning in life is of utmost importance. The Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl has written that the cornerstone of good mental health is having a purpose in life. He said that we should not seek to be in a "state without tension", without responsibilities and without challenges, but rather that we should strive to obtain something in life.
We can find a purpose by withdrawing attention from ourselves and placing it on something else. So find a laudable goal and try to progress regularly, even if it's a small amount every day, because it can really have a positive impact.
We can also find a purpose by taking care of someone else. When we turn away from the stage and start thinking about the needs and desires of someone else, we begin to feel that our lives matter. This can be achieved by volunteering, or taking care of a family member or even an animal.
The feeling that our lives matter, it's ultimately what gives us purpose and meaning – and that can make a significant difference to our mental health and well-being.
Olivia Remes, doctoral candidate, University of Cambridge.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.