Most people have heard of and experienced depression. There are some misconceptions about depression and its symptoms that can make depression hard to recognize. There are also many erroneous assumptions about the illness. When a person is unaware they are suffering depression, they may subconsciously cope by masking the illness. They will tend to explain it away rather than effectively deal with it. It is important to uncover the symptoms of hidden depression to better help people struggling with unseen illnesses. The following are some common symptoms of hidden depression:
They May Not Appear Depressed
People with hidden depression do not appear to be depressed, but that is because people with hidden depression tend to wear a mask to protect themselves. Wearing a mask does not mean there is any less suffering, it is just hidden away. A common assumption about depressed people is that they will look the part meaning they appear miserable, unkempt, and unsociable, but not everyone who is depressed fits this stereotype. Depressed people do not all experience their symptoms in the same way, and people differ in their coping abilities. This does not imply that depressed people who do not maintain a façade are mentally any weaker than those who do. Depression hits everyone differently, but with hidden depression, it is harder to receive help as the depressed person does not recognize what they are going through.
They May Often Complain About Feeling Tired Or Exhausted
A common symptom of depression is persistent exhaustion. Not all people with depression experience this symptom, but it is a very typical one. Depressed people can get sufficient hours of sleep each night, but wake up feeling unrefreshed and cranky. For people with hidden depression, while they may feel chronically tired, the cause will be baffling to them. They may try to explain away their exhaustion by blaming themselves and calling themselves lazy or often visiting the doctor for a physical check up. For all depressed people, including those with hidden depression, the persistent tiredness can affect their personal relationships and their productivity at work, but for people with hidden depression, they may attempt to overcompensate to mask any negative impact on their relationships or work and complain about their exhaustion to people they trust.
They Can Come Across As Very Irritable
Irritability is a commonly overlooked symptom of depression because it does not fit the stereotype. The stereotype of a person with depression is someone that is silent, melancholy, and shy, but people with hidden depression may be more likely to experience irritability, a short temper, and be easily annoyed, rather than reflect the stereotype. People with hidden depression may feel drained by keeping up with all the necessary aspects of life while constantly wearing a facade, and the effect may be a lack of patience and understanding. If a person with hidden depression discovers they are clinically depressed, they will likely be surprised by the diagnoses as will family and friends.
They May Not Appreciate Gestures Of Affection And Concern
While the stereotype of the depressed person is one of being sad, lethargic, and silent, in reality, many people with depression report feeling numb and only briefly experiencing emotions. While people experience depression differently, numbness or emptiness are common symptoms. People with hidden depression will have trouble identifying the cause of their numbness as depression because their symptoms do not fit the stereotype. If a perceptive family member or friend attempts to comfort the person with hidden depression with gestures of affection and concern, the reaction they get might be one of irritation or annoyance because the person with hidden depression will have trouble processing and understanding such gestures, in part, perhaps because of the façade they wear, they may feel they have no need for it.
They May Stop Taking Part In Activities They Used To Enjoy
People with hidden depression may stop doing the activities they used to enjoy for various reasons, but commonly, it is because they lose their appeal due to the physical and mental exhaustion and apathy they feel. Due to the exhaustion and numbness, what used to be enjoyable ceases to bring the same positive feelings. People with hidden depression may not understand their decreasing or lost interest, but simply make the excuse that they are tired and apathetic. Losing interest in favourite activities is a primary symptom of a major depressive disorder. The danger of losing interest in favourite activities, is that other symptoms of depression can worsen, for example, loneliness or feeling stuck in a rut, and it may eventually become more difficult to recover from the depression.
They Can Experience Unusual Eating Habits
A common symptom of depression is eating too much or too little. Unusual eating habits can indicate a coping strategy or a lack of self-care. People with hidden depression may attribute their unusual eating habits to their circumstance, such as the tiredness or apathy they are experiencing, which causes them to crave more or less food. Overeating may occur when the depressed person derives pleasure from eating and seeks to maintain positive feelings by eating excessively. Undereating may occur when the depressed person loses their appetite or deliberately suppresses their appetite as a way of gaining control over their lives and their feelings.
They May Start Becoming Needy
Depressed people sometimes have trouble doing things for themselves, so they can become needy but have difficulty reciprocating because of their neediness. Shaming, rejecting, or pestering them can cause hurt and worsen their depression. While someone else’s feelings are not your responsibility, showing extra patience and kindness towards a loved one behaving in a needy way can be helpful for encouraging them to come out of their depression. You may consider taking measures to protect yourself from having your kindness exploited, but if you sincerely care about someone that may be experiencing depression, including hidden depression, remember they cannot perform as well as mentally healthy people and may require some extra patience and understanding.
They Can Have Random Mood Swings
People with depression can experience highs and lows, but for people with hidden depression, their mood swings can seem random and strange. If you know someone has depression, it is possible to believe that after a few days of feeling positive, the person is no longer depressed. At this point, if you badger the depressed person into things they are not ready for, they can quickly retreat into themselves and suddenly experience a low mood again. If you know, they have depression, be supportive, let them call the shots, and do not assume that a few good days means they are cured of their depression. People with depression, including hidden depression, are susceptible to mood swings and may require your patience and understanding.