Someone experiencing smiling depression would — from the outside —appear happy or content to others. On the inside however, they would be experiencing the distressful symptoms of depression.
Depression affects everyone differently and has a variety of symptoms, the most distinguished being deep, prolonged sadness. Other classic symptoms include:
- changes in appetite, weight, and sleeping
- fatigue or lethargy
- feelings of hopelessness, lack of self-esteem, and low self-worth
- loss of interest or pleasure in doing things that were once enjoyed
Someone with smiling depression may experience some or all of the above, but in public, these symptoms would be mostly — if not completely — absent. To someone looking from the outside, a person with smiling depression might look like:
- an active, high-functioning individual
- someone holding down a steady job, with a healthy family and social life
- a person appearing to be cheerful, optimistic, and generally happy
If you’re experiencing depression yet continue to smile and put on a façade, you may feel:
- like showing signs of depression would be a sign of weakness
- like you would burden anyone by expressing your true feelings
- that you don’t have depression at all, because you’re “fine”
- that others have it worse, so what do you have to complain about?
- that the world would be better off without you
A typical depressive symptom is having incredibly low energy and finding it hard to even make it out of bed in the morning. In smiling depression, energy levels may not be affected (except when a person is alone).
Because of this, the risk of suicide may be higher. People with major depression sometimes feel suicidal but many don’t have the energy to act on these thoughts. But someone with smiling depression might have the energy and motivation to follow through.