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What is Smiling Depression? | Why is it So Dangerous?

What is Smiling Depression

Depression is a mental illness that doesn’t seem to be, but the affect of it says it all. A depressed person is found to have low mood all the while, loss of interest in activities with severe impairment in daily life. As the name implies, Smiling Depression is the term used for the people who are depressed inside but pretend to be happy and contended outside. This can be mostly observed in celebrities.

Smiling depression is considered as a part of major depressive disorders with atypical features that affects how people think, feel and behave. People with major depressive disorders lose interest in tasks they once enjoyed and find trouble performing their simple daily tasks. They are more prone to suicidal ideation. Usually, though a person is depressed, any positive outcome is likely to elevate the mood for some time, in them. But, if the depression disorder is classic, no such positive outcomes could bring a cheer in them.


Depression, in general, affects everyone and the symptoms can vary. The most distinguished ones being deep, prolonged sadness. The one, who has such a chronic depression, is likely to have a major depression. Though people having smiling depression camouflage it with their smiling faces, there are some symptoms that can be identified to know that they are depressed.

A Woman covering her face with a smiley card
A Woman covering her face with a smiley card
  • Changes in appetite, weight and sleeping
  • A sense of heaviness in arms and legs
  • Increased fatigue
  • Getting easily hurt by criticism or rejection
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of self-esteem and self-worth
  • Lack of interest in anything
  • Feeling depressed in the evening or at night
  • Feeling the need to sleep for unusually longer time

However, the ones suffering smiling depression are good at hiding these symptoms from the observation of others. To others, the people having smiling depression may look like active individuals, someone holding a steady job with healthy family and happy life, a person who is cheerful, optimistic and generally happy. But, internally they experience distressful symptoms of depression.

Why do they do so?

It is a common question that arises to most of us that why they do so. There could be many reasons depending upon their environmental conditions or their family conditions on why they act so. They generally don’t express their depression because they feel that

  • Showing it out would be a sign of weakness
  • That it doesn’t make any difference though they show
  • That it might spoil the atmosphere
  • That others would get offended or might get disturbed
  • Feeling that others have worse problems than theirs
  • Thinking, “Not showing it makes me forget and I’m already fine”

Though they seem to be so normal in nature, these causes make them suffer inside and they can’t come out of the shackles and share their worries.

Why is Smiling depression Dangerous?

Smiling depression is more dangerous than a typical depression. The energy levels of people with smiling depression are higher than the people who possess a typical depressive symptom and this makes us difficult to identify what’s going on in their minds.

Though depressed people have thoughts of suicide, they won’t have the energy to act on these thoughts, but people with smiling depression might have the energy and motivation to follow such thoughts. In other words, smiling depression is not only difficult to identify, but it is also a potential threat.

Another problem is that they might not think they have a problem. Mostly, they think they are managing everything in the right way. It is only that a very close person can identify this problem in them with much observation, as they mostly hide it from the outside world.

What are the Triggers?

Smiling depression is most likely to occur when some big changes take place in life, like going through a break-up, loss of someone too close, losing a job, etc. as if their life doesn’t have a meaning and purpose. When someone is upset about certain happening but doesn’t want anyone to let know. The most common example of this kind is the false imposition of manhood on not expressing the emotions, saying “Real men don’t cry”.

It is a social stigma that means men are not supposed to express their emotions in tears. This could be one of the reasons why men don’t seek mental help like women in society. Also, people who feel like being judged or fear the tag of a “crying baby” or “emotional” try to hide their feelings by putting up a smiling façade.

Social Media

A girl taking a selfie smiling at the camera
A girl taking a selfie smiling at the camera

In this digital age, social media plays a vital role in affecting our emotions. The pictures that people upload on their social media platforms are all the happy moments they share, that make others feel “Everyone is really happy”. But the smiles and shares on social media are mostly the artificial emotions that train us to smile at the camera.

Such an attitude is increasing the number of cases where people are getting socially trained to hide their real sadness and put on a fake smile instead. No wonder the cases of smiling depression are increasing in today’s youth!!

Unrealistic expectations

Having more than real expectations make someone anxious and being unable to achieve leaves an underachiever mark in their minds. When such a conflict remains unresolved, it creates sad thoughts that linger upon, leading to depression. It could be either parents, peers or others who have expectations, but coping with all such burden, wearing a happy mask, creates smiling depression in many. The want of being a perfectionist could make this even worst. Happiness will be a distant dream for them.

Statistics and Remedies

While one in ten people suffers depression, forty percent of them suffer from smiling depression, hiding their agony from the world around them. According to its prediction, World Health Organization says that by
2030, depression would be the topmost global health problem. It has been a habit for us to brush off our emotions in front of others and say, “I’m fine” but beneath your façade, those dark forces may be at work. Instead of aiming to be tension-less, one should strive to be something in life.

Instead of trying to be perfect at everything, we should try to live life. When we free ourselves from the cage of tormenting emotions, we shall be free to think properly. The best way to come out of it is to have a dialogue. Be it your best friend or a close someone who could empathize. If you feel that you need help, it is better to consult an expert psychologist. In case, the problem is severe, a psychiatrist will be recommended for medical help. If needed, they might refer to group therapy or individual therapy. We are here to help you, as our group of expert and experienced psychologists are within your reach, either online or offline.

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