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do you look fine when you’re not?

Depression affects more and more people; specifically, the WHO estimates that around 280 million people in the world suffer from it. The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in collaboration with Hospital Sant Pau, has published a work on this pathology and a popular term: smiling depression

Smiling depression is one of the most common types of depression today. Basically, this term refers to the symptoms experienced by anyone with depression, but in addition, in this case, there is the fact that people who suffer from it try hard to hide it.

The work of UOCpublished in Journal of Neurology, revealed that fatigue in patients who have overcome covid would be related to suffering from anxiety, depression and apathy. In addition, a study published in The Lancetit also confirms that cases of major depression have increased by 28% since the pandemic.

On the other hand, the collaborating professor of the University Master’s in Psychopedagogy at the UOC, Vanesa Rodríguez Pousadaexplains that the fact that people who suffer from this disorder try hard to hide their discomfort results in a greater difficulty in detecting it, which increases the number of cases that are still undiagnosed.

Why is this discomfort hidden?

Usually, people who suffer from this type of depression are not aware of what is happening to them, or if they are, they are self-deceiving because they do not want to accept it. In most cases, they think that it is their duty to be happy and that they cannot afford to be unhappy.

“Currently, we live in a society where being happy is an imperative”, affirms Rodríguez Pousada.

As for the type of people most likely to suffer from smiling depression, there is no specific profile, as it depends on several factors. However, people who demand a high degree of perfection from themselves are more likely to experience this type of depression, as they will not tolerate feeling bad and will not be able to avoid it.

You can’t always be good

Being well or not, does not always depend on oneself. An infinite number of things happen around us that affect us more or less, and that most of the time we cannot control.

Allowing yourself to experience discomfort is an exercise that should be learned. The circumstances that surround us do not only depend on us, but involve many more aspects, which is why we should not underestimate our personal circumstances or those of anyone else.

Regarding the prevalence of suffering from this type of depression, men tend to predominate, since it is those who have been deprived of their emotions the most. “If we consider that we live in a heteropatriarchal society, where the demonstration of the emotional world and one’s own weaknesses is more stigmatized in men, male stereotypes could intervene as a vulnerability factor in the case of depression smiling for to this population”, comments the collaborating professor from the UOC.

The role that society plays

The fact of living in a society where a “dictatorship of happiness“, is the main reason why so many people feel bad about themselves and blame themselves when they experience a bout of depression.

As the expert explains, “to suffering from depression would be added the guilt for suffering it, assuming that we ourselves are responsible for it, and, in a double twist, it would go from depression to guilt, and from guilt to shame”.

Depression is perceived by these patients as a weakness in not being able to handle or control it. As a result, they hide their emotions and appear happy to others, hence the name smiling depression.

Depression smiling sadness
Social networks increase cases of depression. EFE/Imane Rachidi

Watch out for these behaviors

Despite trying to hide all these emotions, many times it is unavoidable and there are certain signs that show that something is not right.

Ferran Marsà Sambola, collaborating professor in the Psychology and Educational Sciences Studies at the UOCnotes that there are studies that support that people who experience smiling depression tend to be more hungry, sleep excessively, and have a feeling of heaviness in their arms and legs, as well as rejection of criticism from people around them.

In addition, many times they stop feeling interest in things that used to be passionate about them and to relate to their environment, to avoid exposing themselves to the least to others and that they cannot investigate.

Faced with any possible sign of depression, it is advisable to talk to the person, but always with respect, showing support and concern, never placing yourself in a position of superiority.

The influence of social networks

Social networks are one of the main reasons why there are more and more people with mental disorders.

Enric Soler, Relational psychologist and Tutor of the Psychology Studies at the UOC, explains that we are required to be happy, and that on the contrary, we cannot be so at all times of life; plus there are mental health disorders that prevent a person from being able to connect with minimal happiness. “They are disorders associated with an imbalance in the levels of neurotransmitters“.

The tendency to want to show that everything that revolves around oneself is perfect, successfully magnifying and exalting that part, causes that when someone compares their life with the supposed life of others, they feel confused and sad. All this, however, is usually a mask, a double reality.

The expert also adds that you need to pay attention to how you feel, and give yourself permission as a human being to accept, that if at some point we have a mental health problem, we can take it on as normal, destigmatizing mental health .

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