Depression affects about 16 million people in the U.S. a year. In Australia, about 6.2% of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced an affective disorder in the last 12 months. These figures are equivalent to 1.16 million people. It’s a lot, right.? The worst thing is, many of these are people hiding depression.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the stigma surrounding depression.
I’m sure many of you are probably dealing with depression and don’t know how to cope. If this is you, let me tell you this. You are not alone. You don’t have to hide your depression from your family and your friends. Although I suffer from Bipolar Depression, I may not understand exactly how you feel, but you’re not alone. And to those around you, I hope this blog will help them understand you more so you can stop hiding your depression.
Hiding Depression: The biggest stigma
People with depression often feel like they can’t tell anyone about it. They feel scared, ashamed, and fall into denial. It’s a scary thing to feel this way. People with depression mainly hide it because they are afraid of judgment. They are scared that people will think of them differently and negatively. I have depression, and this is most certainly how I feel.
Depression is an insidious disease, but it doesn’t have to be. Handling and curing depression can be so much easier if people could understand it more.
Ways people hide depression
Depression doesn’t just appear as someone being intensely sad, moody and withdrawn. This is why it’s hard to know if someone is depressed; it can appear in many unrecognisable ways. Because many people with depression won’t open up about their mental illness because of the stigma, it’s up to others to be observant of their behaviour.
Below I share ten ways people are hiding depression, hoping that this can help you and those around you understand more about this mental illness.
Alcoholism and drug abuse
Some people with depression use alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings of sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that in the United States, around 1 in 5 people with anxiety or a mood disorder such as depression also have an alcohol or substance use disorder. In Australia, over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and substance abuse at the same time, at some point in their lives.
Forced happiness or smiling depression
People with depression mask their symptoms with a smile. It’s called “smiling depression.” They hide what they are going through by pretending to be happy.
Being angry or irritable trying to look tough
Instead of appearing sad, some people cover their depression by being irritable and angry. They get overly sensitive and get into arguments easily. They try to look tough and pretend not to have any weakness.
Loss of appetite or overeating
Depression can cause loss of appetite, but for some, it can cause overeating. Have you ever heard the phrase “eating their emotions”? This is what happens to people with depression. They try to cover their situation by eating uncontrollably.
Uncontrollable and intense emotions
A person who hides their depression feels emotions more intensely than others. One minute they’re bursting with anger, and the next, they’re crying uncontrollably. Depression can cause severe mood swings.
Health problems and body pain
Depression is a mental health condition, but it can also have physical consequences. For example, people with hidden depression often feel backache, headache, digestive problems, chronic illnesses, and more. This is because they cover their emotional pain through the physical pain that they are feeling.
People who have depression try to hide it by being perfectionists. They aim for perfection while thinking that they are not enough and can never be enough. They try hard so others won’t see the pain they are hiding inside and their weakness.
Want to feel needed
People with depression often focus on their accomplishments so they can feel valuable. They use this to distract themselves from inner insecurities or fears that might slip out and be noticed by others.
Overly concerned about others, but doesn’t let others into their life
People who hide their depression can feel highly emotional and concerned over other people, yet they avoid telling others about their feelings and situations. They want to know about others, but they don’t want others to know about them. This is not a fake concern. They just don’t want to let others into their own life.
Avoid talking about personal stuff, especially about their previous hurt
People with depression hide their situation by avoiding talking about it. Instead, they change the topic or lose interest in conversations or situations that may expose their emotion or situation.
I hope that those of you reading this who have depression will know that you don’t have to deal with it alone, that you don’t have to hide it, and that there are people around you who want to know more about what you’re going through and are willing to help you get through it.
I implore all of you who are reading that don’t have depression; please keep an eye out for these signs that someone close to you is hiding depression. Knowing how to tell if someone has depression is essential. Then, be the first to reach out and throw them a lifeline.