Invisible Threat: Know the Hidden Signs of Depression

Depression isn’t always what you think. Although well-known symptoms such as prolonged sadness, unexplained bouts of crying, or hopelessness can be easy to recognize, depression can manifest through a number of signs and symptoms that are subtler and less apparent. Getting familiar with the hidden signs of depression can be the first step toward healing and recovery.

Some individuals who are experiencing depression work hard to conceal their symptoms and convince other people that they are happy. They seem cheerful, content, and high functioning in all situations. But inwardly, they struggle with the classic symptoms of depression. This is why hidden depression is sometimes referred to as “smiling depression.” Below, let’s know more about the signs that may require extra attention.

Depression may manifest itself in different ways. Do you have any warning symptoms? Our doctors are ready to help.

Sleep Changes

There’s a strong link between mood and sleep. This explains why some express a cranky or grumpy mood when they don’t get enough sleep. The lack of quality, restful sleep can contribute to depression, and depression can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. It’s also common for people with depression to sleep more than usual.

Changes in Appetite and Weight Fluctuations

Depression may cause a change in appetite [3*] . Some people are not able to eat much or at all due to low mood. Others turn to food for comfort and tend to eat more when at their worst. These dietary changes can cause a person to gain or lose weight. Unusual eating habits or a sudden change in a person’s overall body composition can be a warning sign of depression.

Reduced Optimism

People with hidden depression may have something called “depressed realism.” This means that they have a more realistic but also cynical view of events and the control they have over those events, more than their non-depressed counterparts.

When a person with hidden depression experiences something bad, they consider it insignificant or temporary or assign a positive meaning to it. Being more realistic or having a sudden change in worldview could sometimes point to underlying depression.

Forced ‘Happy Face’

People hiding depression may force a smile when in the company of others. Appearing cheerful in public or having an overly positive attitude may be a mask to cover up their actual feelings. Some believe depression is a sign of weakness or a character flaw.

If someone changes the subject, dismisses their own sadness, or comes up with excuses for the things they are going through, it could mean they are in denial about their experience or embarrassed to express how they truly feel. It’s easier for them to keep their struggles to themselves and hide behind a smile than it is to open up about how they truly feel.

Loss of Concentration

Everyone has concentration difficulties from time to time. But pronounced concentration issues can signify hidden depression, especially if it affects a person’s work, school, or relationships.

When a person loses their train of thought or trails off during conversations, they may have issues with concentration and memory. These issues directly impair functioning, making personal relationships or work life more challenging. They also make it harder to make good decisions or find clear solutions to problems.

You don’t have to struggle with depression alone. See a therapist from the comfort of your home to get support.

Alcohol or Drug Use

Alcohol and substance abuse is common in people with depression and other mood disorders. They may use alcohol or drugs to cope with loneliness, sadness, or hopelessness. Alcohol and other substances trigger the release of endorphins, a neurotransmitter that blocks the perception of pain, reduces stress, and improves mood.

A hidden sign of depression is that someone may turn to alcohol and drug use more often or increase the amount they consume in a day. Studies [4*]  suggest that individuals with alcohol or substance abuse disorder are also likely to have a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.

Changes in Personality

Personality differences may be a sign of hidden depression. People may become quieter and withdrawn if they were once outgoing, or they may have difficulty thinking positively about the future even though they’ve always been optimistic.

Depression can also create a sudden shift in mood. A person with underlying depression may display aggression, irritability, misplaced anger, tension, panic, or nervousness.

Physical Pain and Health Disorders

While we often pair depression with emotional pain, like sadness and crying, it can also have physical consequences. In addition to fatigue and weight changes, other physical symptoms of hidden depression include:

  • Headaches
  • Backache
  • Stomach pain or digestive problems
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Decreased sex drive

Thoughts of Self-Harm

Thinking about death and contemplating suicide is a major red flag associated with depression. People with hidden depression might view death as a plausible way to end their suffering and need urgent help. They may not openly talk about ending their life. Still, they can show hidden signs of suicidal behavior by discussing death in different settings or acting recklessly without considering their safety.

How to Help Someone with Depression

If a loved one shows signs and symptoms of hidden depression, a person can try to share their observations in a nonjudgmental way, give advice, and offer emotional support. Other ways to help someone with hidden depression include helping them find a therapist, offering to accompany them to appointments, exercising together, taking a morning walk with them, and encouraging them to socialize.

Take Away

It’s important to recognize hidden signs of depression and get help. Treatment can help manage symptoms of depression and restore someone’s quality of life. Contact EZCare doctors today if you notice any of the above symptoms and want to go through a professional medical assessment and get support.


+4 sources
  1. Depression-related increases and decreases in appetite reveal dissociable patterns of aberrant activity in reward and interoceptive neurocircuitry. (2016)
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  2. Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders. (2019)
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  3. Depression-related increases and decreases in appetite reveal dissociable patterns of aberrant activity in reward and interoceptive neurocircuitry. (2016)
    Source link
  4. Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders. (2019)
    Source link

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