Depression, as many already know, is a very serious disorder that completely disrupts one’s daily routine, and is recognized as a clinical disorder by all professionals. However, there is still a negative social taboo surrounding depression, which causes those who have it - and there are quite a few who do - to try to hide it, instead of involving the people close to them in order to try to find a solution.
With the following 9 signs, you can identify when others - your relatives, friends or family - are trying to hide depression, and it is important that you recognize them because only then can you provide them with the help they need.
People suffering from repressed depression tend to talk a lot about philosophical issues and are dragged into talking in abstract sentences, in ways you haven’t noticed before. Suddenly, every little conversation with them takes a turn toward talking about the meaning of life. They speak sentences that aren’t entirely clear when one can understand that they are searching for the meaning of life and tend toward "self-flagellation" in a different and more dramatic way than usual. Raising subjects of conversation such as life and death, the burden of life and the burden they take upon themselves, should definitely raise a red flag and make you understand that the person sitting in front of you is depressed.
People who develop hidden depression tend to look for excuses to hide their true feelings and the sadness they suffer from and put on a “mask” of happiness so that others don’t sense their hurting. In most cases, the more time you spend with a person who is hiding their depression the more clear it will become that they are depressed. Therefore, people who don’t want others to know about their feelings, tend to distance themselves and spend less time with others, as well as invent different excuses to avoid social events.
People who develop depression tend to complain of heart pain, pressure in the legs and hands, difficulty breathing, headaches, and toothaches and other such clinical symptoms. Usually, when such people are examined, their physical and health condition is found to be perfectly normal. This unexplained sensitivity and these feelings of pain indicate an unstable inner state and the development of psychosomatic disorders - disorders caused by mental factors. There is a rather vicious cycle of depression that leads to physical pains that cause it to worsen until things become clearer and one understands that the person is depressed.
A depressive mood tends to affect a person’s appearance, whether or not they want it to. If someone around you stops suddenly keeping the most basic rules of hygiene, doesn’t keep their house clean, goes out with inappropriate clothing and generally, their appearance seems grossly sloppy - even if their overall behavior isn’t indicative if depression - you still have reason to question whether or not everything is okay.
People who disguise their depression are more exposed than others to emotional influences on their normal behavior, and this is certainly reflected in their daily conduct. For example, you can notice that a person who doesn’t usually get teary from movies suddenly bursts into tears from just about anything, or alternatively a person who doesn’t get annoyed much suddenly swears rudely and is overcome with road rage when driving. Conversely, things can go the other way: the depressed can become apathetic, stop expressing their opinions and wishes, suddenly agree with everything they have been told, don’t respond when insulted, and so on and so forth, this behavior should put up a red flag.
Another sign of hidden depression that is related to the inability to respond appropriately to different situations is the attempt by people who have it to hide their true feeling behind a mask of positivity, sometimes even overly exaggerated. As a rule, those who try hard to hide depression tend to look happy and carefree, but they do so in such a way that it's easy to see that things aren’t as they seem and that they are actually hiding bad feelings.
When people are depressed, they tend to become obsessed with certain things. For example, in the search for solutions to their predicament, they begin to take on obsessive-compulsive thoughts, creating the illusion that these repeated reflections are the way to find the answer, although in practice they have no real answer. It is not difficult to notice that a friend or person close to you “chews the mental cud”: they often ponder out loud, their mind is distracted and they keep talking about the same problem, but don’t try to act on a solution at all.
One of the most common symptoms of depression is the feeling of prolonged exhaustion, and when a person tries to disguise their depression, this feeling is only exacerbated. Although not everyone who is coping with this disorder suffers from fatigue, it is a very common issue, which challenges many people who suffer from depression and try to hide it. If you notice that someone close to you finds it difficult to cope with routine tasks, forgets information, gets tired easily, even if they sleep well at night, you should try to find out if there’s something deeper going on.
Irregular eating habits develop in a person coping with depression for two main reasons: as a form of coping with the problem, or as a side effect associated with a lack of self-concern, as in the section on sloppy appearance. Overeating or lack of eating are obvious symptoms of depression, which should be noticed. Overeating is often linked to a person's desire to be filled somehow from the inside, and thus make themselves happy with something external, while non-eating may indicate feelings such as lack of desire and interest.
If you notice that one of your loved ones or someone close to you has developed one or more of the symptoms that we mentioned here, the best solution is to talk to them first and offer help, try to talk about the things that are bothering them and remove the masks. In such a conversation it is important not to try to minimize the value of the person's problems or joke about them in order to ease the situation, but take them seriously - try to genuinely help them, by really touching on the problems they’re dealing with and not with empty words like "cheer up," “just relax,” or “stop acting like that." In any case, if the person in front of you refuses to talk, don’t try to force them, but keep an eye on their behavior. Be attentive, and let the person dealing with the problem feel that you are here for them.