There is a typical saying that goes like, “a smile can mask or hide a thousand tears”. Although this is often referred to as a snowflake concept by a lot of people, did you ever sit down to think that it may actually be true? That there might be some truth or reality behind this statement?
Experts say that it is easy for many people to brush off problems and issues in life and respond to these concerns with a perfectly plastered smile on their face, which often is accompanied with the words, “I’m fine”. However, these people who might appear to be fine and happy are actually struggling with a lot internally. Nowadays, the term “smiling depression” is increasingly being used in reference to these people and it is predicted that it will be diagnosed as one of the most dangerous mental health illness with symptoms similar to those of depression.
It is a term that is used to describe anyone living and struggling with depression on the inside yet putting up a face for the world, also called the “mask of joy”.
Symptoms of Smiling Depression
According to numerous studies and statistics, one in ten people go though depression and out of those, 40 percent of people hide away their torment from the world while displaying great happiness and contentment.
Smiling depression has a variety of symptoms, many of which are similar to the symptoms of depression. One of the most distinguished and common symptom is of course, a deep and prolonged sense of sadness. Ironically though, any individual struggling with this form of depression will actually appear to be a high-functioning and a super active individual, someone who is always happy and cheerful, with a healthy social and family life, and also a steady job.
Other frequently-occurring symptoms include:
- Increased lethargy and fatigue
- Significant changes in diet, appetite, sleep, and weight
- Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- Easily hurt by criticism
- Heaviness in the arms and legs
- Feeling increasingly depressed in the evening
- The need to sleep longer than usual
In addition to these symptoms, people who are battling with smiling depression will have a tendency to feel:
- Like letting people know that they have depression is a sign of weakness
- The world is better off without them
- That they are “fine” and don’t have depressive symptoms
- Others have it worse than them so they shouldn’t be the ones complaining
The Need to Identify Smiling Depression
An important starting point is to understand and realize that this condition does exist and is extremely serious. In severe cases, it can become increasingly dangerous and pose a great threat for those going through it and even for people around them.
This is also vital because it can be very hard to spot people who might be going through smiling depression. The fact that these people actually manage to hide their condition by putting up a happy face makes it even harder to single them out.
The closest technical term that is used to define this condition is “atypical depression” given how most of its symptoms are so similar to those of depression.
A person going through depression is typically believed to be unable to even make it out of bed in the morning. This inability stems from incredibly low energy levels and extreme forms of fatigue. Keeping that notion in mind, depressed people may not have high suicidal ideations or tendencies.
However, on the contrary, someone with smiling depression may be at a higher risk of suicide because, in this condition, energy levels are not particularly affected. This goes to suggest that such a person will have all the energy and motivation to act on their suicidal thoughts, unlike someone with depression who will have limited to zero energy to follow through.
Break Free From This Deadly Cycle
The first thing anyone going through this condition can do is stop rationalizing their problems and consider it serious, and possibly dangerous, too. Once you do that, only then can you devise an appropriate solution and strategy to deal with it.
Find Meaning In Life
For many people, trying to gain insight and finding meaning in their lives is enough to break free from this deadly cycle. Finding meaning in life is essential, especially for those battling with smiling depression. According to an Austrian neurologist called Victor Frankl, having a clear purpose and aim in life is one of the very vital cornerstones of good mental health.
He further states that one should always be striving for something in life than finding themselves in a “tensionless state” that is void of challenge and responsibilities. Taking away attention from ourselves and placing it into something meaningful can really pave the way towards positivity by helping one find a worthwhile goal and making progress every passing day.
Care for Others
Often times, caring for others and thinking about their needs and wants can help us understand and realize that all our lives really matter a great deal. It can also help give our life some meaning and purpose that will further assist people with smiling depression to make a significant difference in their health and mental well-being.
Meditation and Physical Activity
Exercising, practicing meditation and yoga have always been associated with excellent health. Not only does physical activity give you strength and vigor but it also has tremendous mental health benefits.
A US-based study conducted by Rutgers University showed that people who engaged in physical activity and meditation at least twice a week noticed almost a 40 percent decrease in their depression levels.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Needless to say, therapy is one of the most widely recognized and suggested treatment options for mental health conditions. CBT, in particular, has proven to be extremely beneficial for those going through depressive episodes, including smiling depression. It helps one change their thought patterns and behaviors which, in most cases, paves the way towards a positive outlook of life.
The importance of understanding and identifying the existence of mental health conditions cannot be emphasized enough. You never know someone very close to you who is always smiling and laughing might actually be going through the worst kind of internal depression. So, one should always exercise empathy and display great understanding and compassion levels.