Guest Post from Ariel Taylor
Many people outwardly display happiness and exuberance. In reality, they may be concealing inner turmoil and depression. Depressive people fear that others may notice they’re flawed personalities. They fear people close to them may become judgmental if the depth and intensity of depression is revealed. People try to avoid being labeled as a depressive character or manic worrier as that becomes the quickest route to social and workplace isolation.
Hidden anxiety could provoke obsessive behavior or impulse control disorders
The worst assumption depressive people make is to believe that the dark mood is just a phase, a passing cloud, or momentary discomfort that will go away if they chose to ignore it. Avoidance only generates a wave of loneliness and unremitting sadness. This is the harsh reality of smiling sorrow.
Environmental factors that encourage anxiety repression
The behavioral quirk of concealing depression is more widespread than society thinks. It has a lot to do with the way we are conditioned to hide our innermost feelings. Society encourages people to become an agony aunt, a kind of sounding board (or battering ram) for others to unburden their sorrows. Somehow, we don’t enjoy the same freedom when it comes to sharing our personal feelings of loss and anguish and seeking help for the same.
This is a good time as any to reflect whether you or maybe someone you know is falling prey to smiling sorrow. If matters are not brought under control, it becomes difficult to control obsessive compulsive disorders that erupt collaterally.
Six sure signs that people are hiding anxiety
1. Viewing life through the harsh prism of intense pessimism
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), depressed people tend to view their lives more negatively than normal people. Such people are programmed to latch on to the negative aspects of their lives, and the problems that plague society around them. Depressive realism describes this attitude. Such people take on a realistic view of their situation and how it impacts their lives, but their analysis is heavily tinged with pessimism.
Normal people, on the other hand, tend to have realistic expectations and temper their world view with optimism. Depressive realism fundamentally changes one’s attitude from “Sara will definitely achieve her goals, given time and encouragement” to “I’m pessimistic about Sara’s chances of achieving what she desires.”
Action point: Keep the conversation positive and gently encourage people to view their situation in a brighter light.
2. The happy countenance hides behind a stream of excuses
The signs are unmistakable; the individual seems to be forcing a smile. As you spend more time with this person, the mask drops sooner than later. To hide their depression from prying eyes, such persons spend as little time as possible with others, preferring the anonymity of isolation. The excuses come fast and thick why they cannot meet you, come for dinner or attend a function. It’s only a genuine heartfelt conversation that unearths the depression and gets the person to spill the beans on what anguishes them.
Action point: Break the barriers of isolation and encourage the individual to engage socially with you and mutual friends.
3. There’s a conscious attempt to escape from the realities of life to philosophical thinking
Speaking to these troubled souls, you get the feeling that they wax philosophical about abstract topics such as their goals in life, and how they struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives. A little probing might reveal hidden thoughts of violence, fear of death and the urge to inflict suffering on imagined foes. Theirs is a constant search for happiness without the willingness to tread the path leading to fulfilling lives.
Action point: An emotional plea and a spiritual renaissance would do wonders to dispel the darkness within these souls.
4. Binge eating, addictive behavior, and sleep disorders may indicate hidden turmoil
Any behavioral change that sharply deviates from the normal may indicate hidden depression. Sound sleep is essential to physical, mental, and emotional health. Changing sleep patterns are reliable signals of distress. Too little sleep or excessive sleeping both signal silent suffering. Clinical studies prove that sleep deprivation can aggravate depression.
Where the normal person eats frugally to live, a depressed person may find himself living to eat. The urge to binge frequently beyond normal cravings creates a feeling of fullness that calms the depressive mind. The problem is worsened by withdrawal symptoms following alcohol or drug intoxication. On occasion, the extreme opposite may happen - total disinterest in food because there is ‘no joy in eating anymore.”
Action point: Encourage such persons to follow a proper diet, juxtaposed with plenty of exercise and fresh air to drive away the cobwebs of despair.
5. The depressed soul is desperate for assistance, but will fight shy of asking for help
Chronic depressives will be mortally scared of revealing their darker anxieties and will fight tooth and nail rather than disclose their mental handicap. The fear of being exposed makes them retreat into their shell of exclusivity. On the rare occasion they open up, you will catch a glimpse of a troubled universe. In such moments they may respond to persuasion either to seek personal help or professional counseling.
Such individuals may end up knocking on the doctor’s door, only to retreat into their world thinking that they’ve gone too far, and others may judge them poorly. The very thought that another person would be probing their weak spots discourages many from seeking the help they desperately need.
Action point: Handhold the person through personal or professional counseling, assuring them constantly that it is for their benefit.
6. The depressed soul exists on an emotionally hypersensitive plane
It is the norm for the depressive mindset to express emotions strongly. Such individuals could suddenly break into a flood of tears on watching an emotive reel life episode. They become unduly aggressive in the face of the slightest provocation, situations that normal people would calmly ignore. The close friend who is unusually calm may suddenly express his abiding love for you. It is as if the troubled soul has boxed up so many depressive thoughts inside that genuine emotion somehow escape through the gaps to see daylight.
Action point: When such individuals hyperventilate, respond calmly and allow them to seek emotional fulfillment. You can always try humor to bring the situation under control.
The Bottom-line: One cannot assume that each of these symptoms is a definitive sign of hidden depression. Some people are naturally introverted or introspective or irritable. What you need to watch out for is chronic worrying mentality that could aggravate more dangerous as obsessions and impulse control disorders. When you see this happening, you need to step in and take corrective action.