Skip to main content

When most people visualize depression, they envision a person who is crying, visibly upset, and completely unable to function. However, that simply isn’t the case for the vast majority of people who are high-functioning and depressed.

To explain this further, think about the vast majority of suicides, not just celebrities like Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, but those who you have heard of in real life. For the vast majority that I can think of, those who knew them well always say they never saw it coming. Why is that? Well, because the signs of depression can be hidden by those who are depressed.

Many people who are depressed come off as the happiest people, smiling and laughing and getting along with others. They hold down jobs, they love their family and friends, and they put on a front to try to stay afloat. Unfortunately, high-functioning depression seems to be one of the more dangerous forms, because, beneath the surface of their mask, there is a storm that continues to build.

Over time, without treatment and proper support, their depression becomes worse. So, if you believe someone may be hiding their depression, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are 12 signs.

1. Their appetite and weight change.

People who are depressed may experience appetite and weight changes. For some, this may manifest as eating far less than normal, and even starving themselves. For others, they may eat a lot more (emotional eating) causing them to gain weight.

2. Tiny things set them off.

When someone is depressed and hiding it, there is pressure that begins to build. The slightest thing may set them off, and cause them to erupt. For example, they may accidentally mess up a work project, and out of nowhere, they begin screaming and throwing things. Then, they calm down and go back to normal, quickly. This is a major sign of someone who is experiencing hidden depression.

3. They are use substances more often than usual.

Many people look at substance use and believe that to be the main problem, however, beneath the surface of any add!ct, is a whole bucket of problems they are trying to treat with substances. This is why when people go into add!ction recovery, they often have to deal with their issues (depression.) When someone is experiencing hidden depression, they are likely to use substances more than usual.

4. They are perfectionists, who self-criticize.

To maintain the image of happiness, those suffering from hidden depression will try to do everything perfectly. When they fail or do something wrong, they criticize themselves harshly.

5. They bury emotion.

Have you ever noticed someone who just heard the news of something terrible, but they don’t seem bothered at all? For many people, they get so used to having to bury their depression that when they hear bad news or endure something painful, they don’t seem bothered. But, beneath the surface, they can feel it, and it will only build until they work through it.

6. Their sleep patterns change.

Depression also causes sleep pattern disruption. If someone is depressed, they may sleep far more than usual, even sleeping the day away. On the other hand, though, some depressed people will go without sleep, or without the right amount of sleep, because their depression keeps them up.

7. They have difficulty concentrating.

When your mind is overwhelmed with depression, it can make it hard for it to function properly. In turn, those dealing with hidden depression may not be able to concentrate as they should.

8. Their happiness seems forced.

If you are around someone always happy and being funny, to the point in which it seems forced, they are likely putting on a front. A major example of this is Robin Williams. Robin Williams to the people who knew him was cheerful and always trying to make everyone laugh. Many people didn’t even realize how depressed he was.

9. They are often tired.

Being depressed, especially when you are trying to hide it, can make you feel drained. Not only does it make it much harder to get good sleep, but depression also takes up a lot of energy. Because of this, most people who experience depression also are chronically fatigued.

10. They isolate.

Because it can be a lot of work to hide depression, a lot of people who suffer from depression and want to hide it ends up isolating. When invited out, they may respond with an excuse as to why they can’t join. In reality, they are dealing with something very difficult.

11. They don’t enjoy their hobbies like they once did.

When someone begins dealing with depression, they may lose interest in their hobbies. Doing things that once brought them joy will seem like work, and for the most part, their main task will be to make it through the day.

12. Their health is suffering.

While most think of depression as an emotional illness, it also weighs on your body. Over time, depression can turn into stomach issues, chronic pain conditions, headaches, and body aches. Research has shown that those who suffer from major depression are also more likely to have heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer.