Smiling Depression: Not a thing to joke about!

Rubina Yeasmin:

Image source: Unsplash


Generally, we follow a routine or cycle every day to keep our days consistent.  Starting from getting up from bed, we carry on our day-to-day activities to maintain a standard life. Until we go to sleep, we keep ourselves busy. But in between all these, somewhere depression grows inside of us deeply and intense. Though depression is often taken lightly, the true weight of depression is very heavy. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 264 million people of all ages are fighting with depression.

Depression kills all the interest to look forward, to carry on; you will lose the enjoyment of work, face inconsistent sleep, exhaustion, even you won’t feel like talking about it. Yet ‘smiling depression’ is the worst. It is a term for someone living with depression inside while appearing perfectly happy or content outside. It is a major depressive disorder with atypical symptoms where our urban people are becoming the main victim of it.

People with smiling depression are often adults, married, educated, employed, high functioning individuals, and having a social identity. Their social and public life is going well as anyone can see. But behind that mask, they are fighting with anxiety, severe depression, despair, discontentment, and self-insignificance. When they are facing someone, they are gently saying- ‘I am fine.’

Some risk factors of smiling depression may include any big life changes or any situation like failing relationship or losing a job. It can also be triggered by social or cultural stigma where showing emotions is considered as a sign of weakness, unrealistic expectations from someone, and inferiority complexes created by social media where you will see everyone’s life is going so well. But the question arises here- ‘Are they really going that well?’

Depression affects everyone with different kinds of symptoms mostly prolonged sadness and empty feeling. Other symptoms may hit like to lose appetite, inconsistent sleep, lack of energy and interest, hopelessness, lack of self-worth, etc. A person with a smiling depression may face any of these or these symptoms might not be visible to others in this case.  They may seem quite active with healthy social and family life, cheerful and generally happy. They fear that showing their depression would be a sign of weakness. They worry about what others will think, being a burden on others and most importantly they think the depression will go off if they pretend to be happy.

There is a significant risk of suicide in case of a smiling depression. People with major depression sometimes feel suicidal, but they cannot face it because of a lack of energy. But in smiling depression, the energy level may not be affected. A person can easily be motivated to suicide and have the energy to follow through.

They usually deal with anxiety and depression for a long time like four or five years. In some cases, they go under medication or therapy too. But many of them do not disclose their depression to others because of fear of not being loved or accepted. Their struggles remain behind the limelight. Most of the people who have felt the impact of the suicide of a friend often say the same thing- ‘I did not have any idea that he or she was suffering this severely! I would have expected him or her to be the last person to do that.’

If you see someone around you who has the same symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask them about it. If you are the one who is going through these difficulties, don’t hesitate to share it with others.  Make authentic and harmless social relationships with people. Talk with your closest one and taking a doctor’s appointment is okay. You can find activities that are meaningful to your life. Never give up, you are not alone! Together we can fight, together we will smile.


i.      ‘What is Smiling Depression?’; Kathleen Davis; reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., Psy.D, CRNP, ACRN, CPH; Published on April 22, 2020; Medical News Today

ii.   ‘Smiling Depression: What You Need to Know’; Jamie Elmer; reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., Psy.D, CRNP, ACRN, CPH; Published on April 3, 2018; Health Line

iii. ‘The Secret Pain of smiling Depression’’; Rita Labeaune, Psy.D; November 14, 2014; Psychology Today

iv.    ‘Defining the Symptoms of Smiling Depression’; Published on November 14, 2018; Forward Recovery




About the writer:
Rubina Yeasmin is working at UNFPA as a District Facilitator. She has obtained Masters of Business Administration and Bachelors of Business Administration from the Department of Marketing, University of Dhaka. Her hobbies include cycling, traveling, and reading.
Rubina is passionate about working with people and bring better changes to society. She believes in living life to the full: “I believe, life is all about experiences and I want to experience my life from every possible and positive way. “




error: Content is protected !!