Smiling Depression – Nothing to Smile About

Rita Labeaune, Psy.D

How many people do you imagine look happy but feel very different on the inside?  Typically depressed people are depicted as being bed-ridden and incapable of functioning.  What may or may not be surprising is that approximately 15% of the population is suffering from depression.  Not everyone experiences depression the same way.  For some they might not even realize that they are, in fact depressed, especially if they seem like they’re managing their day-to-day life.  It doesn’t seem possible that someone can be smiling, functioning, and depressed.  In my practice, those that are the most surprised to realize they’re experiencing from some form of depression are those suffering from “smiling depression.”

Most people have never heard of the term “smiling depression”.  The definition of smiling depression is: appearing happy to others, and literally smiling, but internally suffering with depressive symptoms.  Smiling depression often goes undetected and isn’t dealt with directly.  Those suffering may discount their own feelings and brush them aside.  They might not even be aware of their depression, or they might feel embarrassed, or they fear of being “weak.”

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