8 Hidden Signs of Depression and How to Spot Them

8 Hidden Signs of Depression and How to Spot Them

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Chances are, someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression — even if they don’t show it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 264 million people have depression worldwide.

Hidden depression, also called “smiling depression” or “concealed depression,” is when someone works hard to conceal their symptoms and show the world that they’re A-OK. They may appear to be high functioning at work and in social situations, but behind closed doors they live with the classic symptoms of depression.

Some may hide their symptoms because they don’t want their loved ones to worry. Others may feel too embarrassed to ask for help or struggle with perfectionism. Some may also feel guilty or ashamed for struggling to begin with, which are both common emotions that go hand-in-hand with depression, according to research.

By getting familiar with the hidden signs of depression, you’ll be prepared to support your loved ones and help them seek additional resources.

Is your friend or family member talking about how tired they are lately or how they have no energy? Do they have bags under their eyes or show other signs of sleep disturbance?

Depression is known to interfere with restful sleep. Research shows that it can prevent people from falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting out of bed in the morning. It’s common for people with depression to sleep less — or even more — than usual.

Research shows that depression may cause a change in appetite, due in part to an influx of the stress hormone cortisol in the system. Some people may have less of a desire to eat, since food no longer tastes good, or they aren’t craving anything in particular.

For others, depression can manifest as craving foods that release feel-good neurotransmitters.

A meal high in sugar will nudge the brain to produce serotonin, also known as the “happiness hormone.” In the moment, it produces a pleasant sensation, but research now suggests that high-sugar diets could make overall depression worse, leading to a tricky cycle.

These dietary changes can all contribute to weight loss, weight gain, or fluctuations between the two. If you notice a sudden change in someone’s overall body composition, keep an eye out for additional symptoms of hidden depression.

Various research studies, including a 2020 review called “Low-hanging fruit for getting back on your feet,” have found that a diet that contains more fruit, vegetables, fatty fish, and whole grains — along with fewer sweets, processed foods, and fried foods — can help with depression.

Drinking alcohol triggers the release of endorphins, a natural stress and pain reliever. This neurotransmitter is responsible for the same lift in mood we feel while exercising, having sex, or enjoying a good laugh with friends.

Hitting the bar for happy hour is a socially acceptable way to cope with stress, which makes underlying depression more difficult to spot.

A common sign of hidden depression is that someone may turn to drinking more often or increasing the amount of alcohol they consume in one sitting.

In fact, studies suggest that alcohol use disorder is one of the most common co-occurring conditions alongside depression, more often impacting women than men.

In some cases, the bigger the smile, the bigger the depression it hides. “Toxic positivity” is a buzzword as of late — and for good reason. An overly positive attitude, a perfectly manicured highlight reel on Instagram, or appearing cheerful in public may be a mask to cover up what’s really going on.

If someone dismisses their own sadness or changes the subject, it could mean that they’re uncomfortable expressing how they truly feel or they’re in denial about their experience.

Listen for something that sounds like, “Yeah, I’ve been really down lately … but it’s okay, I’m fine. Really. How are you doing?”

If you suspect a friend or family member has hidden depression, spend more time with them. It’s difficult to hold up the mask of happiness all the time, and eventually little glimpses of their real feelings will poke through.

Research shows that people with depression use more “I,” “me,” and self-focused words because they are in an introspective state most of the time. In addition, they use what are called “absolutist” terms, like “always” and “never,” without a lot of gray area.

Depression also has a way of distorting thought patterns, which can lead to a different worldview. Findings indicate that those with depression have a more negative outlook. Listen for phrases with an air of pessimism, like “I can’t” or “I should.” You could also hear misplaced guilt, like “it’s all my fault.”

Someone you love may hint at suicide or bring up philosophical topics about the meaning of life, what it feels like to die, or the afterlife.

Those with hidden depression may struggle with a “vulnerability hangover.” That is, sharing about what’s really going on, only to later feel awkward, guilty, shameful, or generally unpleasant about letting someone get so close.

They may reveal dark thoughts and even call a therapist, only to back out of an appointment at the last minute and say, “Nevermind, I’m fine.”

You might notice “oversharing” on social media, which is sharing posts that contain lots of personal information. They might show a pattern of sharing personal details online, then deleting the posts soon after.

This could be for any number of reasons, from not wanting to be a burden on loved ones or growing up in a culture where feelings were swept under the rug.

In any case, it’s still a good idea to follow up with your loved one. Let them know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that you still love them — no matter what.

Depression is known to create sudden shifts in mood, including increased:

  • irritability
  • sadness
  • nervousness
  • tension
  • panic
  • grief
  • crying spells

Men are also more likely to experience irritability, aggression, and misplaced anger, while women carry feelings of sadness.

Someone with concealed depression may stray from their baseline of emotions. Maybe they’re normally a calm driver, but now they’re displaying road rage in traffic. Or perhaps you’ve never seen them cry at the movies, but now they’re getting teary-eyed at commercials.

It can swing in the other direction as well. Maybe your loved one normally laughs out loud at a funny show, but now they seem “flat” or uninterested. These are all mood changes associated with masked depression.

In 1979, scientists documented a peculiar phenomenon called “depressed realism.” Essentially, the theory is that those with depression have a more realistic view of the world, and their role in it, more than their non-depressed counterparts.

For someone with hidden depression, this may come out in conversation as a cynical comment about reality. You might hear something like, “It’s not like any of this matters anyway, so who cares?”

While it may be true to some degree, it’s also a deviation from the perspective of nondepressed individuals, who have “optimistic illusions.” This means that when they experience something bad, they deem it as impermanent or insignificant, or assign a positive meaning to it. In others words, this is the rose-colored glasses effect.

While more recent studies have supported this theory, additional research is still needed to reach a consensus in the psychology community. Until then, be aware that a sudden change in someone’s worldview could point to underlying depression.

If you believe that someone you love has hidden depression, you can help by offering emotional support and a safe place to talk about it. Share your observations in a nonjudgmental way and ask how you can be there for them.

Remember, depression can make small tasks feel impossible, so a little help can go a long way. For example, you may offer to take a morning walk with them, look online and help them find a therapist, or drive them to a nearby support group.

The SAMHSA National Helpline can be reached at 800-662-HELP. It’s a free, confidential, 24/7/365 information service for treatment and referrals.

The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 can also help you or your loved one talk to a trained crisis worker, any time of the day or night.

TalkSpace and BetterHelp offer online therapy services, so you can work with someone from the comfort of your own home.

There are a number of great blogs and podcasts for depression support as well:

  • Time to Change has a section for reading and sharing personal stories.
  • The Hardcore Self Help Podcast offers a twist on the typical self-help genre.
  • Heads Up Guys is for men who are struggling to open up about their feelings.
  • Depressed While Black provides Black-affirming support and advocacy.
  • The Hilarious World of Depression combines support with good humor.

Through all of this, be sure to find support for yourself as well. After all, you can’t give from an empty cup. A therapist can help you navigate stress and point you to additional books, podcasts, forums, and resources. Remember, take it one day at a time.

11 Signs That Someone You Know Is Hiding Depression

Depression is a monster, plain and simple, and there is no other way to look at this debilitating disease. Most people think that depression is easily recognizable too, but that’s not always the case. Some people move through this life wearing a mask to hide their depression.

I love using that analogy because I have worn many masks to conceal my depression – the mask of fake cheer, the mask of anger and the mask of comfortable numbness or complacency.

I bet you wonder why we do this, why we choose to hide our true feelings. Well, there are many reasons, but the main reason is that others usually fail to understand us. So it’s better to hide the darkness away under the pretense of happiness.

If you feel that someone you love is hiding depression, then here are the indicators. Plus, I’ve given you a few tips on how to address the situation as well.

1. Faking happiness

Those who are hiding depression may seem happy, even overly ecstatic at times. If your loved one has been battling depression for years, they may be experts at covering dark with light. With today’s responsibilities, we, as the ultimately depressed, feel it’s necessary to put on a ‘face’, so to speak.

Unfortunately, there have been many suicides where no one really understood the reasonings until it was revealed that depression was the culprit. To others, victims seemed rather… happy. Pay attention to the telltale signs of masked emotions, we will let it slip sometimes.

2. Cover-ups or lies

We victims of depression are great at fabricating things to hide what’s really going on in our life. Sometimes the true circumstances are just too hard to talk about, and so we lie. Maybe our actions aren’t socially acceptable or we need to cover up scars from cutting or self-abuse. There are many reasons why we create a false accounting of a situation. For you, our dearly beloved, pay attention and you could be able to help without blowing our cover. We would appreciate it!

3. Cries for help

Those who suffer from depression have a subtle way of crying for help. These times may be few and far between, but they are there. When we do cry for help, no matter how quietly, make sure to take this seriously. It might be the only time we ask for your help. Remember, this is not a way to get attention, this is a way to bridge the divide between those who suffer and those who desire to understand. Connection is key to being a successful hero.

4. Being abandoned

One of the hardest things to endure with depression is abandonment. Many times when our friends or loved ones find out how deep the depression runs, they will walk away. This can be devastating to us and most certainly makes the depression worse. It is vital that you have patience with yourself or your loved ones who suffer from depression. You may be one of the only people around to help. Try your hardest to be understanding and open-minded.

5. It’s okay! We got this!

Believe it or not, the mentally ill do understand the repercussions of drugs and alcohol. Because of familiarity, we understand that depressants, such as alcohol, can make our condition worse, and so we know how to limit its use. We also understand how other drugs can alter the mind, so don’t be too over-protective and judgmental. Just listen and offer advice on this subject sparingly. As we all know, badgering leads to spite in many cases. Besides, many of us are alcohol and drug-free. It varies.

6. Sleeping and eating disorders

With depression, there is generally some sort of sleeping or eating disorder. Either you sleep too much or not enough. The same goes with eating. As a friend of the mentally ill, you must try to be supportive by reminding those who are hiding depression that eating and sleeping are huge parts of staying healthy. Tact is important, however, so be kind.

7. Our own remedies

Although medication is the best-known disguise for depression, we have other things that help cover our frailties. Using our own remedies is another way of hiding depression on many occasions. Sometimes just getting outside for a walk or run can be such great therapy and it temporarily masks our sadness.

In order to appear normal, we have to have our intellect stimulated. Want to help replace darkness with light? Keep us inspired and keep depression at bay.

8. Life and death

One high indicator that your loved one is hiding depression is the depth of their conversation about life and death. Mortality weighs heavy on us, sometimes from as early as childhood. I have spiraled into episodes as a child simply by thinking about my own death. I believe this is one of the darkest corners of depression.

The only way to combat this feeling within us is to just listen. Be honest, don’t try and sugar coat death, it is what it is. If you’re careful, a few strategically placed jokes even help.

9. Seeking a purpose

Just as talk of life and death are prevalent, so is life’s purpose. Although this may sound repetitive, we seek purpose in life from its beginning till its end. If we’re having concerns about the meaning of life, then we may be suffering from depression. I have to be careful myself when talking about all the things I should have done and my unconquered dreams. As with life and death discussions, the best approach to helping your loved one is to be our sounding board.

10. Creativity and expression

Watch for the talented in your life – your friends, your family. Many times, depression hides behind the many creative abilities of the person it inhabits. Take myself, for instance, I paint, write, play piano and other miscellaneous creative things. I also suffer from bipolar disorder which includes depression.

I can even venture out to say that 90 percent of artists suffer from depression. Now that’s just my opinion, so don’t knock it. In this case, if you find your creative sister, brother or niece is truly suffering from depression, then just let them continue on their creative pathways. It just helps if you support our creative endeavors as well.

11. Seeking love and acceptance

Hey, you should always pay attention to those who want to be accepted or crave love. Often times, these are people who do not feel the good stuff, so it’s important to provide a little sunshine when you have more than enough. Although we should all guard our hearts, to a certain extent, there comes a time when we really need to pay attention to those who really need to be cared for emotionally. Love can never be a bad thing.

Although depression isn’t always hidden, most times it is. The largest reason why we choose to conceal this darkness is because darkness is not acceptable. Society wants us to cover this with a mask. I have found that in order to brighten this darkness, we need to look it square in the eye and deal with the issues. It’s time we stopped hiding depression and what we really are and find connections who are willing to help us heal.

For a moment, just a moment, remove the mask. I want to see who you really are.

Copyright © 2012-2021 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

8 Symptoms of Hidden Depression That Everyone Can Experience

Depression is a very serious disease. It can be confused with ordinary fatigue, but it also can hide under excessive workaholism or, on the contrary, feigned happiness. Sadness, a lack of initiative, and loss of physical and moral strength are just a few features of this sickness.

Only a doctor can diagnose depression correctly, but you can notice this emotional disorder on your own.

Bright Side decided to explore some less obvious symptoms of depression that can help to avoid its negative consequences.

8. Philosophical thoughts

People who suffer from hidden depression usually try to talk about philosophical topics using abstract sentences. “Such things always happen to me,” instead of, “I don’t get enough sleep.” “There is no sense in it,” instead of, “I think I need to use another variant.” As a rule, depressed people like to talk about the meaning of life, and they do it all the time. And their words are often abstract and vague. Psychologists say that the more definite a person’s thoughts are, the more chances they have to be happy.

7. Searching for excuses

Depressed people often use excuses to hide their real desires and sadness. For example, they compose touching stories about why they can’t go to a friend’s birthday party or why they can’t stay for lunch with colleagues. Convincing excuses serve as a cover so as not to bother anyone with your emotional condition.

6. The lack of an adequate reaction

People with depression can interpret a surrounding reality in a different way. They can agree with everyone, stop expressing their opinion and desires, stop noticing insults, or not feel pain even if it’s inevitable: for example, when they lose a relative.

5. Psychosomatic diseases

Being depressed, people usually complain about heart pain, tension in their hands and legs, breathing difficulties, a headache, a toothache, and other symptoms. As a rule, an examination shows that their health is fine. Various painful sensations point to an unstable condition. In turn, pain causes anxiety and tension, forming a vicious circle and making a person suffer from psychosomatic pain.

4. “Mental chewing gum”

In a depressed state, people obsess over certain things. They’re sure that they are searching for answers, but such obsessive thoughts can’t solve their problems. On the contrary, they create the illusion that they are trying to find an answer. It’s easy to notice that your relative or friend suffers from obsessive thoughts: a person is rather brooding, absentminded, speaks about one and the same problem, and doesn’t try to act instead of speaking. We can remember an example from Limitless. Bradley Cooper’s hero was obsessed with thoughts about writing a book and possible success. He plunged into apathy and stress, losing his relatives and friends one by one.

3. Untidy appearance

A depressed state affects a person’s appearance. If a person stops following the rules of hygiene and doesn’t keep their home clean, you have reason to wonder whether everything is OK or not. This applies to people who never used to have problems with neatness.

2. A change in productivity

This is also a bad signal. A person can’t cope with everyday routine tasks, forgets information, often gets tired, and feels a senselessness in their actions. It also can be the opposite, when rather inactive people become workaholics with a tense schedule, trying to collect their achievements. They are trying to escape from their feelings and bring some sense to their life.

1. Ostentatious happiness

People often try to hide their depression behind a positive mood. And, as a rule, they really look like the happiest and most carefree people in the world. They avoid serious conversations and laugh off difficult topics. You can understand and help them only during a long and trusting talk.

How to help people and yourself:

  • You can test yourself with the help of Beck’s Depression Inventory or the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale.
  • If you realize that one of your friends or relatives is depressed, try to talk to them about their health and problems. Offer your help. If a person refuses everything, leave them alone for a while and observe their behavior.
  • Don’t depreciate relatives’ and friends’ problems, and don’t joke. Such phrases as “cheer up,” “stop it,” and “calm down” don’t work here.
  • Help with household duties and routine tasks: depression takes all of a person’s emotional and physical strength.
  • Don’t make a depressed person lead an active lifestyle if they’re not ready.
  • Take pauses in your relationship with a depressed person so as not to adopt their condition.
  • Debunk the myths that it’s not necessary to visit a doctor. Suggest professional help.
  • Be caring. Each smile and perfect post on Instagram can hide serious problems.

Have you ever tried to help someone who was depressed? Do you have your own methods? Share with us!

What are the differences between anorexia and bulimia?

Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are both common eating disorders among the American people. However, there are a few key differences to tell if a friend or a loved one suffers from one condition or the other.

The anorexic patient focuses on losing weight at all costs, even resorting to starvation if necessary. He or she will mostly skip meals, obsess over calorie counting, and adopt many strange eating rituals to avoid food entirely.

An anorexic individual will take extreme solutions to lose weight. These include highly restrictive diets or refusing any social contact with other people to avoid being observed during starvation periods.

The life of a bulimic patient, instead, is characterized by constant cycles of binge followed by purging. The purging aspect is central and is not present in anorexia.

Bulimics tend to be very secretive when eating and will try to avoid being watched during meals. Most of them will be within normal weight limits and will hide their condition in every way possible.

Here are a few hints to detect if someone you know is dealing with bulimia:

Food disappears

People who deal with bulimia might often go through large amounts of food very quickly, especially highly caloric or junk food. They may consume up to 5,000 calories in one day!

Before guilt forces them to purge themselves, you may notice that large quantities of food suddenly disappear. However, there’s a chance you’re not around when binges occur because of the secretiveness of bulimic persons.

In particular, if he or she is usually obsessed with healthy eating, look out for packages of junk food in the garbage or recycling bin. This apparently odd behavior may constitute evidence of a possible eating disorder.

Overuse of medications

Bulimic patients often make abuse of purgatives, diuretics and laxatives to shed the excess calories. Although this method is largely ineffective, look out for wrappers or packages of these medications, enemas, diet pills and appetite reducers.

Strange behaviors after meals

Purging often occurs by vomiting just right after a meal to prevent calories absorption. Frequent trips to the bathroom or disappearing for too long after meals can be a sign that they’re purging themselves.

The smarter ones may use showers or running water to cover the strange sounds they make in the bathroom. Keep an eye for clogged drains or sinks. They may have used them to purge instead of the toilet.

Physical signs

If someone is inducing vomiting, stomach acid will come up with the food, causing tissue damage, inflammation and irritation. Frequent exposure to acid can damage the patient’s hands, teeth, nails, lips and cheeks. The strain can also be so hard that blood vessels in their eyes burst, causing redness.

Here is a short list of physical symptoms you can quickly spot:

  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • Swollen cheeks and jaw
  • Cracked, dry lips
  • Inflamed mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Discolored teeth
  • Scarred or calloused hands
  • Scraped knuckles
  • Damaged nails

Obsession with diets and exercise

Many teenagers are constantly concerned about their physical appearance. However, when this preoccupation turns into obsession, it can be a sign of a hidden eating disorder. Beware of any indication of a potential fixation with body shape or weight, diet plans, physical exercise or quick ways to “burn off” calories.

You should be concerned when physical activity goes beyond some healthy exercise program. For example, a bulimic person may keep exercising despite bad weather, injuries, illness or fatigue as a form of purging.

Whenever their diet or exercise plan cannot be followed strictly (such as during holidays), the subject can become anxious, upset or even angry.

Odd eating habits

Keep an eye out for strange or weird eating habits. Bulimic individuals often get obsessed with food as much as they’re obsessed with weight. They can be, for example, too interested in cooking although they never eat the meals they make.

Eating becomes some sort of ritual that must be properly scheduled to make time for the binge-purging sessions. Keeping track of the calories is of the utmost importance. A person affected by bulimia might prefer to make his or her own “safer” meal alone instead of eating with the family.

Whenever a situation cannot be controlled, such as when a restaurant doesn’t offer the food they planned to order, they can become exaggeratedly upset. Strange rituals such as eating dishes in a certain order, or cutting food into small pieces, might help them control their negative emotions.

Unusual smell of puke

Most purges occur by inducing vomiting. Puke smell is difficult to mask, and you may easily notice it. Even after multiple flushes or by using potent hair fresheners to get rid of it, the bathroom will still keep smelling of vomit.

Patients who kept hiding their habit for a long time, often cannot wash that smell away. It will stick to everything they touch, especially their clothes. If you notice this foul odor while doing laundry, it might be a powerful warning sign. Excessive use of minty breath fresheners should also ring an alarm.

Bad mood and withdrawal

Just like most eating disorders, bulimia stems from low self-esteem and psychological issues. The “unhappiness” of a bulimic person may become apparent in many ways. Anger, depression and anxiety are the most common ways they express their emotional struggles.

Mood swings are normal even in healthy teenagers, but if your son or daughter is always in a bad mood, something may be wrong.

Keep an eye out for any sign of social withdrawal. Adults and teenagers who deal with an eating disorder may feel guilty, irritable and might hate their bodies. They may find hard to make physical contact (or even just eye contact) with other people and will slowly isolate themselves.

  • If you start having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, keep a record and watch for other symptoms of depression.
  • Be on the alert if someone starts sleeping excessively. Seriously depressed persons can sleep as much as 20 hours a day in some cases.
  • Be concerned if someone begins canceling social engagements and staring at television programs he otherwise wouldn't watch.
  • Notice if mail is piling up unopened or other common tasks such as laundry, taking out garbage, etc., are not being done.
  • Marked change in appetite (increase or decrease), or significant weight gain or loss, can signify many conditions, including depression consider it in light of other depressive episode symptoms.
  • Keep track of episodes of unexplained and uncontrolled crying.
  • Document feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, or despair that last for a significant part of the day or for several days.
  • Be alert if you or your loved one exhibits signs of unusual worry, anger, negativity, helplessness or hopelessness.
  • Pay attention if you or a loved one begins to have difficulty making even simple decisions. This is one of the very common symptoms of depression.
  • Be sensitive to behavioral changes such as disorganization, inability to concentrate, or indifference to everyday necessary tasks.
  • Notice if actions and thoughts seem to be slowing down (psychomotor retardation) or restlessness and purposeless movements (psychomotor agitation).
  • Watch your loved one for physical symptoms of depression such as slumped posture, frowning, decreased eye contact, frequent sighing, soft or slowed speech, or decreased sexual desires.
  • If symptoms of depression appear after a change in medication, contact the prescribing doctor promptly.
  • Contact the doctor quickly if you experience or someone reports recurrent thoughts of death and suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

A Word From Verywell

Symptoms of depression can creep up slowly or emerge quickly. If they come on slowly, it may be harder to notice, especially in yourself. Get in the habit of observing yourself if you have depressive episodes.

Make a pact with your friend or loved one that if one of you sees a group of symptoms of depression in the other, the affected person will take appropriate action such as contacting a doctor. Or make a pact with yourself.

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms of depression. You will encounter more through observing your own experience and reading about depression. Add more red flags to your or your loved one's personal list of depression symptoms as you spot them!

Spot the signs

The thing to remember about recognising depression is that it's not a one-size-fits-all disorder. There are many symptoms, and one person's experience may be completely different from the next.

But if you suspect someone you know is depressed, here are some of the physical signs to look out for:

  • Lack of energy or feeling tired all the time
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Having difficulty sleeping (or sleeping more than usual)
  • Poor appetite, which may lead to weight loss
  • Smoking and/or drinking more than usual, or using drugs
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Self-harming

People working a quiet agenda will have a harder time making eye contact, might blink excessively, and might have stiff, unnatural body language.

Researchers from Michigan State University showed that those who avoid eye contact are far likelier to be insincere in what they're communicating than someone who looks you in the eye. I'm betting that your experience confirms this too--when you're connecting with someone in an exchange of open and honest conversation, eye contact is maintained without effort and the body relaxes.

Don't fall for the ol' shifty eyes myth though. Research from City University of New York psychology professors Howard Ehrlichman and Dragana Micic sought to determine why people move their eyes when thinking or communicating. Their work indicates that "eye-movers" aren't necessarily lying or trying to be deceptive--they're merely accessing their long-term memory.


The diagnosis of depression relies on a person's own subjective descriptions of their symptoms and the professional judgment of a doctor or mental health professional. During an evaluation, a doctor will look at how a person is feeling and may also attempt to determine whether or not the individual is faking symptoms.

In general, there are two possible reasons why faking depression might take place:

  • Malingering: When someone feels that they have something to gain from a particular diagnosis. For example, they may want to avoid certain responsibilities or obtain a financial reward
  • Factitious disorder: When someone derives psychological benefits from taking the role of a sick person

Some clues that might suggest that an individual is faking symptoms of depression include recent legal problems or the possibility of some sort of financial settlement. Inconsistent symptoms, differing accounts from other sources, or a refusal to cooperate with the diagnostic process may also raise red flags.

Perhaps not surprisingly, malingering is often very difficult to detect. Doctors who suspect that a person is faking their symptoms might use an instrument such as the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomology (SIMS) to try to detect signs of malingering.  

While psychological tests can help with the detection of faking depression, such data also needs to be supported by corroborating evidence provided through detailed interviews, medical records, doctors' notes, and other sources.

Symptoms of Depression

It is important to recognize that many symptoms of depression are not easy to recognize. A person can seem fine or even happy on the surface, while privately experiencing serious symptoms of depression. In many cases, the only way to know if someone is feeling depressed is if they tell you explicitly what they are feeling.

Even though depression can be difficult to detect, you may be able to see some of its signs.

People with depression may:  

  • Seem to have trouble thinking, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Seem really tired and lacking in energy
  • Talk about feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Seem really hopeless or pessimistic about life
  • Have problems getting good sleep
  • Seem irritable or restless
  • Seem to not be interested in things that they used to enjoy like hobbies
  • Seem to be losing or gaining weight without trying
  • Complain of pain, headaches, or digestive problems that don't seem to get better even with treatment
  • Seem sad or anxious
  • Talk about suicide or not wanting to be around anymore

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

People who are experiencing these signs may very likely have depression. If someone you know has such symptoms or seems to be struggling, you can reach out and offer your support.

It is up to a doctor or mental health professional to make an official diagnosis. Avoid making judgments about whether you think a person's symptoms are real or serious enough you may have no way of knowing what a person is going through.

What you can do to feel better

When you’re depressed, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.

Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or don’t want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.

Get moving. When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.

Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.

Find ways to engage again with the world. Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, pick up a hobby you used to enjoy (or take up a new one). You won’t feel like it at first, but as you participate in the world again, you will start to feel better.

How to spot signs of mental distress in a remote work context

As many people worldwide have started working remotely due to the pandemic, face-to-face communication has become more sparse. How can we tell if a teammate may be experiencing mental health struggles when all our interactions are from behind a screen or computer keyboard?

Share on Pinterest In this Special Feature, we look at how to identify tell-tale signs of mental distress in a remote work setting.

Around the world, physical distancing measures and worries about the continued spread of the new coronavirus have forced many companies to ask all or most of their employees to work from home.

But even as officials in different countries are now beginning to ease physical distancing and lockdown measures, it looks like more widespread remote work arrangements may be here to stay.

Some of the largest, most influential companies have already committed to much more flexible work from home policies going forward.

While working from home can have benefits for employees and companies alike, it can also have some pitfalls, such as blurred boundaries between “work time” and “private time,” which can harm employees’ mental health.

So how can employers support their employees in maintaining their mental well-being while working remotely?

Many people find it tricky to spot signs of mental distress in another person at the best of times, and the fact that many employers and employees now only communicate with each other from behind a screen can make this even more challenging.

To find out how employers and colleagues can spot mental health struggles in a teammate in a remote work context, and to learn more about how to support them, Medical News Today spoke with two experts: Tania Diggory and Kat Hounsell.

Tania Diggory is a business neurolinguistic programming practitioner and mental health trainer and founder and director of Calmer, and Kat Hounsell is a leadership coach and mental health first aid instructor and founder of everyday people.

Specialists have pointed out that people who experience symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression, may exhibit changes in body language and their day-to-day behavior.

Yet how these changes appear in different people depends on their personality and individuality.

“[I]t’s important to recognize that we all have our own sense of ‘norm,’ and identifying that someone’s behavior seems out of the norm (for them) will usually come down to how well you know them,” Tania Diggory pointed out in speaking to MNT.

“That being said, no matter how well you know someone, body language and tone of voice are powerful forms of non-verbal communication. [T]hese are important signals to pay attention to if you sense a teammate is struggling with their mental health,” she added.

But when we no longer share a physical space with a person, how can we pick up on tell-tale signs?

“Firstly, let’s remember that many of the observation skills we have in person can translate online — if we’re speaking by video call, we still have the ability to notice [a person’s] body language, [their] appearance, and even without video, we can hear the tone of their voice and listen to the words they use,” Kat Hounsell told us.

Outside of calls, Hounsell suggested looking out for any odd changes in a person’s messaging style and email communication and noticing if a person has suddenly become less communicative online.

“On email, we may notice a change in someone’s writing manner or emails being sent outside of work hours. Also, the same way that a sign [of mental distress] in the workplace may be [that] a person […] is regularly absent the same applies to the virtual world… are they engaging as much as usual?”

— Kat Hounsell

But the most crucial step in making sure that a colleague who works remotely is doing well is, simply, to try and fit in regular video or voice calls.

Both Diggory and Hounsell stressed the importance of making eye contact — albeit via a computer screen — and really listening to a person as they speak.

“Have regular check-ins with each other, whether through one-to-one catch-up calls or team meetings — via video conference whenever possible,” Diggory said.

She also emphasized the importance of conversations that probe a little deeper than the usual small talk.

“If they look or sound vulnerable, they may not speak up about it so you can choose to ask how they are truly feeling and remind them that if they are struggling, they don’t have to do it alone,” Diggory told MNT.

Hounsell issued a similar piece of advice, saying that:

“To really find out what’s going on, we’ll need to engage in a conversation with our teammate, ask them how they are, truly listen to the answer, and encourage them to open up if they feel comfortable.”

In speaking to managers and team leaders, Diggory also suggested that allocating dedicated time at the start of team meetings to check in with all the colleagues could go some way towards ensuring that they feel heard and supported.

“For example,” she suggested, “you could ask your teammates to express how they feel in a few words, without judgment, or share how they’re choosing to make time for their well-being that week.”

“Voicing how we feel in a safe, supportive space and bringing awareness to how we can nurture our well-being are important steps for building our sense of self-awareness, as well as connecting with those around us,” she went on to explain.

Hounsell also urged managers not to forget about employees currently on furlough or those who have taken sick leave.

“Regular check-ins are important to help monitor the well-being of team members, and this includes those currently on furlough or sickness absence,” she told MNT.

Hounsell also added that when thinking about safeguarding their employees’ mental well-being, employers must bear in mind three steps. According to her, these are:

  • prevention, which means applying actions and strategies that help the team stay well
  • intervention, which means “having the confidence to open up a conversation if they feel a team member is struggling”
  • protection, which means “following policies and procedures to keep people safe who have become unwell”

When asked what they would say to someone currently experiencing mental health issues related to, or exacerbated by remote work as a result of the pandemic, both Hounsell and Diggory emphasized the importance of seeking help and of practicing self-compassion.

“I would encourage [anyone experiencing distress at this time] to be compassionate and kind towards themselves, recognizing that each of us is navigating the sea in different ships and learning how to become captain in stormy waters,” said Hounsell.

“There are supports out there, and you are not on your own,” Hounsell reminds our readers, noting that “many professional support services continue via phone or online. Booking a phone consultation with your [doctor] may be a helpful first step.”

Diggory also advised anyone experiencing mental health issues at this time to speak to friends or family members whom they trust, to reach out to the relevant figures at their place of work, and to make use of mental health resources available to the public at large.

First, “[l]ook to your current support network,” Diggory said. “Who do you trust in your family, friends, and professional networks who you can turn to for a chat about how you’re feeling?”

“Talking is one of the most powerful steps you can take to managing your mental health, and exploring how you feel with someone you trust can reveal solutions you may not have considered on your own,” she explained.

In a work context, she suggested speaking to a manager, the human resources team, or a trusted colleague so that they can negotiate any necessary adjustments to their work.

“Every company has a legal duty of care to support their employees, and if you are concerned that your mental health is inhibiting you from carrying out your work, then it’s important for your employer to know.”

– Tania Diggory

Finally, she urged our readers to remember that mental health helplines are always available to anyone who may need support at a difficult time.

“We’re living in the best possible time to receive mental health support,” she pointed out, “and there is an abundance of charity and healthcare organizations you can choose to contact, depending on your specific needs.”

“This will allow you to speak to someone objectively about how you feel, and they can help you to identify your next steps and receive appropriate support that’s most relevant for you,” Diggory added.

Hounsell added that those who are experiencing added stress and mental health issues while working remotely might benefit from renewing their focus on physical health and well-being.

“Looking after the foundations of our physical well-being can have wonderful benefits for our mental health,” she said, mentioning “sleep, diet, water, moving, and getting fresh air each day if possible.”

Ultimately, Diggory said, everyone should strive to “[r]emember that struggling with […] mental health is a human experience.”

“Everyone that lives on Earth experiences feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety from time to time, and these experiences do not define you as a human being,” she went on to add.

“You have masses of potential within you, and while your state of mental well-being can fluctuate, these are important signals in your mind and body for you to pay attention to. [A]cknowledging and recognizing when you may need help shows strength so that you can seek the support you need.”

– Tania Diggory

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.


  1. Voodoocage

    But what is the ridiculous here?

  2. Tygolrajas

    I mean you are not right. I offer to discuss it. Write to me in PM, we'll talk.

  3. Hrypanleah

    Neshtyak!)) 5+

  4. Akibar

    we will return to the topic

  5. Macqueen

    It can be discussed infinitely

  6. Spenser

    I recommend that you look for a site where there will be many articles on the topic that interests you.

Write a message