The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 280 million people in the world suffer from depression. And these figures could have increased with the pandemic.
In another study published in the scientific journal ‘Journal of Neurology’, it reveals that fatigue in postcovid patients is related to suffering from anxiety, depression and apathy.
In addition, a study published in ‘The Lancet’ states that cases of major depression have increased by 28% since COVID-19 appeared.
However, experts believe these numbers could be even higher given the number of cases of depression that go undiagnosed.
Among them, ‘smiling depression’ occupies an important place, a type of depression that can go unnoticed even by the closest environment.
What is ‘smiling depression’?
The term ‘smiling depression’ refers to depressive symptoms that occur with the typical symptoms associated with these disorders, but in which the diagnosed subject shows an desire to hide
“This longing results in an active position so that the people around him do not perceive the discomfort he is facing,” the experts explain.
The fact that people who suffer from it make an effort to hide their discomfort translates into greater difficulty in detecting it. Therefore, the diagnosed cases could be a very small portion of all existing ones.
However, those who suffer from it experience the same discomfort as a person with typical depression. And, in fact, they are aware of what happens to them. Or, at least, that something is wrong.
Guilt about experiencing discomfort
But there are several reasons that can lead them to try to hide it. One of them is to believe that their obligation is to be happy and that they cannot show negative emotions.
“Currently, we live in a society in which being happy is an imperative. Together with this dictatorship of happiness, an individualism has been growing from whose point of view there is a tendency to underestimate the personal, social and structural circumstances of a system determined to convince us that health and disease are linked almost exclusively to personal psychological deficiencies, where self-determination and one’s own abilities are the backbone of our well-being. Thus, it is assumed that being well or not being well depends exclusively on oneself,” says the experts.
As the experts explain, this message has permeated society so much that there are people who feel guilty for experiencing discomfort.
“To the fact of suffering from depression, the guilt for suffering it would be added and, in a double twist, it would go from depression to guilt, and from guilt to shame,” they indicate.
Consequently, he considers that depression would represent for these patients “the very inability to cope with something that we should know how to handle and it reveals itself as a signifier of our own weakness”.
The result that this can have is precisely that of not showing true emotions and appearing happy in the face of others.
Despite trying to cover up the discomfort, external signs may appear that can alert the closest environment.
As the experts explain, “some studies say that these people tend to have more appetite, sleep excessively and have a greater feeling of heaviness in their arms and legs, as well as rejection of criticism from people around them.”
Perfectionists are more likely to suffer from
As for the type of people who can suffer from ‘smiling depression’, there is no established profile, since a complex reality of bio-psycho-social factors intervenes in it.
However, perfectionists, who are often less tolerant of failure, may be among those who suffer if they perceive depression as a personal weakness and lack.
Regarding whether it is more prevalent in men or women, there are no specific data.
“If we take into account that we live in a heteropatriarchal society, where the demonstration of the emotional world and of one’s own weaknesses is more stigmatized in men, masculine stereotypes could intervene as a vulnerability factor in the case of ‘depression smiling’ for this population”, detailed the experts.
Social media doesn’t help.
What the group of experts agrees on is that social networks do not help to show real emotions. “We live in a society where we constantly have to prove to others that we have a perfect life. In my opinion, this is reinforced through social networks,” the experts say.
In addition, in social networks there is a tendency to show the successful part of oneself, magnifying and exalting it considerably.