The term depression surfaced during the 2010s, along with the fame of social media.
Back in the day, having a mental health issue wasn’t treated with the same awareness as having a physical problem, which led many people to hide it under the “Fake it till you make it!” parole.
The truth is – it worked, to some extent. Depressed people accepted it as a way of living, thus carrying on with their jobs, taking care of themselves, and smiling.
But, with depression, you can’t fake it and most definitely would never make it if you don’t treat it equally as any other physical illness. It doesn’t go away; instead, it evolves into what’s today known as Smiling Depression.
Keep on reading to learn more about what is depression, what are the signs of depression, and ultimately, how online therapy can help you through this tough time.
What is Smiling Depression?
Depression has many faces nowadays. There’s the “unwilling to do anything” face, the “chronic” face, the “gloomy” face, but the most dangerous is the “smiling” face.
People with a smiling depression don’t show the typical signs of depression, like unwillingness to get out of bed, shower, eat, etc.
On the contrary, they act like other “normal” people. They go to work, smile, visit friends, have activities, and look after themselves. The only difference is that they never really feel these things.
Cloudy weather never bothers them in doing their job, but it significantly detaches them from hope. Although these people can do their job successfully, it never really is with a positive mindset.
The Danger of Dismissing Smiling Depression
Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, all these admirable actors, and artists had one thing in common – unannounced suicide.
After their tragic deaths, their close friends and family said they’d never noticed the depression symptoms leading to the unfortunate choice.
None of them discussed their hardships with their close people, nor did their friends and family ever see or realize they might be feeling unwell.
And all because the life they presented in public wasn’t corresponding with the given depression symptoms.
However, the loss of these outstanding human beings shifted the focus to mental health issues, especially depression.
Psychologists surveyed the happiness rates and realized that depression has dispersed in other spheres, which required a deeper study.
Hence, the depression symptoms got a new category – high-functioning depression or persistent depressive disorder symptoms.
Smiling Depression vs. Traditional Depression
Smiling depression vs. major depression can be best illustrated with a rain metaphor.
A person with major depression experiences a thunderstorm. Their depressive episodes are usually intense, noisy, scary, but short.
People struggling with depression are suicidal, and their actions may often be impulsive but, fortunately, don’t end with drastic results.
People with smiling depression, on the other hand, experience cloudy weather only. Sometimes the clouds get heavier, sometimes lighter, but they’re always present.
The fact that people suffering from smiling depression have high-functioning skills makes it one of the most dangerous life hazards. They can easily fool anyone regarding their mental state.
These people have made peace with their decision, so they plan suicide in detail. Take Kurt Cobain, for example. He had been suffering from depression for almost his entire life, and he knew precisely when and how he would do it.
Statistically, smiling depressive disorder lasts minimally for 2 years, according to psychiatrist Dr. Tracey Markrs, and it lingers until a patient gets proper help.
If the smiling depression isn’t openly discussed, it’s highly possible to lead to suicidal thoughts, loss of hope, and ultimately – a tragic death.
How Can Depression Influence Your Mental Health?
Depression has negative impacts both on physical and mental health. Therefore, a person struggling with depression will experience the following cognitive difficulties:
- Difficulty remembering – Depression is a consuming illness.
That means it will center the person’s thoughts only around the disease, or the person will have compulsive-obsessive thoughts instead of doing a certain chore for the day.
- Detachment from hope – Depression has the power to detach a person from hope or make a person’s life seem insignificant.
- Create Perfectionist Habit – A person suffering from depression becomes self-destructive, subconsciously developing the perfectionist habit.
- Difficulty in focusing – Depression acts as weight above the patient’s head, making it difficult to focus and concentrate on reality or their feelings.
It’s much easier for them to pretend that everything is fine, even if it is much more difficult below the surface.
How Can Depression Influence Your Physical Health?
Apart from mental health issues, depression also attacks physical functions. Initially, depression sucks a person’s energy, and as an outcome, the person may experience:
- Digestive issues – A loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or other digestive problems. If not treated, the condition may culminate with bulimia, anorexia, or obesity.
- Respiratory issues – Difficulty in breathing, chest aches. Such symptoms also originate from depression, as stress usually attacks the cardiovascular system.
It’s best to seek help in these situations and not risk a possible heart attack.
- Sleeping disorder – A depressed person may experience insomnia, nightmares, or bad sleep in general.
Be it the classical, traditional depression, or the smiling depression – both illnesses have the same impact on a person’s body and mind. Due to avoiding treatment – depression is the silent assassin in society.
6 Signs of Smiling Depression
The World Health Organization explained the difficulty of diagnosing smiling depression, arguing that the symptoms it presents are conflicting or normal compared to classic depression.
Therefore, these people are likely to go around the day without showing the common signs of depression.
However, several signs can tip you to the existence of smiling depression. These are explained in the list below.
1: High-functioning Skill
The other name for smiling depression is high-functioning depression.
This means a person suffering from smiling depression can lead an everyday life, and do physical and mental activities, including sharing mental health solutions. Still, their views towards everything in life are indifferent.
The first sign of smiling depression is the inability to create an emotional bond to life due to a lack of hope.
2: Fake Online Persona
It’s taken as read that smiling depression involves bottling emotions and hiding the true self.
So, a person suffering from a smiling depression will constantly post content on social media to prove their life is perfect, and there’s nothing to doubt, just like they do it in real-life.
While sharing good memories is normal, creating an online persona living their best life that doesn’t correspond to the real-life person may severely backfire on you.
Postponing the confrontation with the bottled emotions by relying on the fake social media life creates room for the depression to evolve.
3: Fear of Being Judged
It’s no secret that people suffering from smiling depression avoid seeking professional help for fear of being judged.
They often treat their depressive symptoms as a weakness instead of an illness. For that reason, they ignore their emotions by putting on a happy face and hiding their feelings from others.
4: Fake Positivity After Drastic Life Changes
Sometimes life changes by 180 degrees. It’s very common for a person to undergo drastic life changes like losing a job or losing a loved one.
These changes cannot leave a person indifferent, and it’s normal to experience depressive episodes with low motivation, breakdowns, crying, a gloomy mood, and so on.
What’s not normal is denying the truth, putting on a smiley face, and living your life as if nothing happens.
Avoiding bad emotions, grief, suffering, or pain doesn’t make a person stronger. Bottled emotions will be redirected to the psyche and may affect your point of view.
5: Keep a Busy Life
People suffering from smiling depression often throw themselves into a workload of duties so that they can avoid confronting reality.
Keeping themselves busy isn’t only an early depressive sign; it’s also a persistent sign of smiling depression.
Staying busy distracts people with smiling depression from the real world, and when they’re done, they’re exhausted and have energy only to go to bed and get ready for the next day.
These people often find new hobbies, interests, or side projects to delay the confrontation with their depressive episodes.
This is one of the alarming depression symptoms because their illness evolves into a high-function depression until they’re fully capable of successfully taking their own lives.
6: The Great Expectations
A person struggling with a smiling depression avoids honestly expressing themselves because their family thinks of them as a collected person who knows their way in life, or their friends love their positive behavior.
So, if they ever say that they’re not feeling OK, they think that they’ll disappoint their family or lose their friends. And all because they believe they only contribute positivity to the friendship.
Therefore, to avoid failing others, they create this fake persona, hiding their true self the best they can. And, in most cases, they succeed in doing so.
However, being a perfectionist is never an attractive personality trait. When something goes wrong, these people become self-destructive, or worse – start to believe that they mean nothing in this world.
How Can Online Therapy Help You Overcome Depression?
Online therapy is one of the best ways to treat smiling depression.
As people with smiling depression can function properly, what they need is only a talking therapy so that they can let go of the suppressed emotions inside them.
1. Effectiveness of Online Therapy
Online depression therapy is effective for many reasons. Initially, it eliminates the fear of judgment because online therapies take place at your home.
Further, smiling depression is a complex topic as the symptoms are not easy to detect. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to make a correct diagnosis.
Patients looking for online therapy can reach a doctor from anywhere in the world and solve their issues.
Moreover, online depression therapy doctors can follow their patient’s illnesses closely through messages, video calls, and so on. That way, they can provide a concrete diagnosis and therapy.
Patients, on the other hand, have more comfort with the 24/7 online messaging with their therapists rather than talking to them face to face.
When they feel like they’re getting sucked into their thoughts, they can reach their therapist and get the advice or simply be heard for the time being.
2. Disabled-friendly Alternative
People with physical limitations experience depression and anxiety much more than others. However, getting treatment is often a bigger problem for them.
Many brick-and-mortar psychological offices aren’t impairment-friendly, so people with disabilities can’t get the help they need, and thus their situation worsens.
So, online therapies come as the needed mental health revolution. Nowadays, there are millions of registered online therapy patients with disabilities.
3. Cost-effective and Sufficient
Teletherapies have much more approachable charges for their services than traditional in-person therapies.
A teletherapy costs half the price of a regular session, minus the costs of commuting or driving to your doctor’s office.
In fact, the advantage of online therapy is that it takes place right in the comfort of the patient’s home.
It’s the only place when they’re taking off their masks, making it easier for them to open up and eventually create healthier habits.
4. Treatment Is More Approachable
The perk of online therapy is that all patients can go to a session regardless of their location. In-person patients are limited in terms of their choice of professionals.
But, the Internet provides us with excellent online depression therapy experts from all over the world.
The only requirement to get a personal online therapist is to address the psychological community or association and express your issue.
The customer support team will direct you to the psychologists under their wing who specialize in the field.
The first meeting is cozy, considering it’s done straight from your home’s comfort – giving the patient a chance to choose a spot that suits them the most.
Then the therapist will start asking questions to get to know them and slowly detect the possible issue.
Online therapy sessions offer the same services as other in-person services. The only difference is that the options here are wider and more convenient.
5. Online Therapies Privacy
Be it online or in-office; therapists have an ethical bound to keep the patient information they retrieve from a session highly classified.
The room where online therapists hold their sessions is private. If confidentiality worries you, you can also go to a room that is secluded enough not to leak any personal information.
Moreover, even if it’s for the patient’s benefit, therapists aren’t allowed to record the session without the patient’s consent.
If there are any voice messages during a crisis, the patient has every right to ask the therapist to delete them.
The bottom line is that online therapies are as confidential as in-office sessions.
How is Smiling Depression Treated?
The smiling depression therapy may be cured with just several sessions, but sometimes it may need medications as well.
Initially, the therapist will ask the person struggling with smiling depression to identify a period where they felt happy.
If the person cannot remember the last time they felt good, then the conclusion is simple – they suffer from smiling depression.
If they can remember, but the other questions still point to depressive episodes, they may be diagnosed with major depression. Your therapist might also ask you to test your thyroid activity.
Once the therapist is certain of the diagnosis, they will ask you to start journaling or log the emotions. This first step is important because it allows patients to confront their emotions in private.
The next step is to ask the patient to remember what caused them to lose hope. Usually, it’s either a traumatic life event or a series of events that ended up bottled somewhere deep down.
Often patients struggle to open up, but over time and with persistent therapy, they start taking off the burden bit by bit.
Note that during psychotherapy, some patients might need medication. There are three types of medication for smiling depression:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
These are recommended for adults, as it helps them remain collected while taking off their emotional burden.
The First Steps to a True Smile
The reasons for people masking their depression are different, but the storms and suffering they go through are mostly the same. Smiling depression is a risky mental disorder.
On the outside, everything seems normal, but the person may be slowly waning away deep down.
Gradually, they become incapable of finding reasons to live, fight, and survive the illness, which can lead to dire consequences.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, don’t wait – seek professional help as soon as possible. Online therapy for depression is highly advised in this fast-changing reality.
It’s 2022, so it’s time to say goodbye to mental health as a taboo topic and hello to a brighter future where a smile is just that – real happiness!