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Smiling Depression: A New Phenomenon

Smile Cloud Uptown Dallas CounselingWhat happens if you force yourself to smile when you are feeling sad?  A relatively new mental health diagnosis is “Smiling Depression.”  The symptoms of Smiling Depression are the same as Major Depressive Disorder, with ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE.  People with this disorder APPEAR happy to others.  They often laugh, smile, have energy, and are socially engaged.

Smiling Depression is hard to diagnose because the person often only admits the symptoms to themselves.  They suffer in silence and only show symptoms when they are alone.  Symptoms of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Smiling Depression often adds serious complications to the symptoms above, which may be:

  • thinking you are a loser.
  • Thinking you have no value
  • Feeling that your ability is inferior compared someone else.
  • You feel guilty for everything.
  • Always angry and not satisfied.

Typically, a person with smiling depression is afraid to admit to others they are suffering because they see depression as a weakness.  One of the most effective ways to help people with this type of depression is the destigmatization of mental illness.  As we work to make mental illness more public and take away the shame associated with the diagnosis, people with Smiling Depression will feel safer to seek help.

Chloe Lambert writes about the experiences of some people with smiling depression here: