Depression is a complex mental health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. While some individuals may display classic symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness, others may appear to be functioning normally despite feeling deeply unhappy inside – this is known as Smiling depression. 

See also Burnout vs depression: What’s The Difference? and Best Vitamins for Depression.


It can be challenging to identify Smiling Depression because it often goes unnoticed. That’s why awareness of this form of depression is critical in ensuring you receive the help you need.

In this article, we will delve deeper into what smiling depression is, its causes and symptoms, as well as how it can be treated. Understanding more about this condition can help you identify those who may be silently struggling and provide them with the support they need.

Smiling depressing lady with a mask

What is smiling depression?

Smiling depression is a term used to describe the experience of being depressed but not showing it outwardly. It’s often referred to as “masked depression” or “hidden depression.”

While regular depression can cause someone to withdraw from social activities and have a negative outlook on life, smiling depression is characterized by putting on a happy face despite feeling low. People with smiling depression may appear to have everything going for them, but inside, they’re struggling.

It’s estimated that about 280 million people in the world have depression. And while smiling depression isn’t an official diagnosis, it’s considered more common than previously believed.

Signs and Symptoms of Smiling Depression

This type of depression can be difficult to spot because the person may not show any obvious signs of distress. However, there are some tell-tale signs and symptoms that may be indicative of smiling depression.

Putting on a brave face

Despite feeling down or hopeless, those with smiling depression will often put on a brave face for others. They may fake being happy or act like everything is okay, even when it’s clearly not.

Disconnecting from loved ones

Those with smiling depression may start to isolate themselves from family and friends. They may stop participating in activities they once enjoyed or pull away from social interactions.

Struggling at work or school

Smiling depression can also affect someone’s performance at work or school. They may have a hard time concentrating or completing tasks, which can lead to problems in their career or academics.

Changes in sleep habits

Another sign of smiling depression is changes in sleep patterns. Someone may start sleeping more or less than usual, and their sleep may be restless or unrefreshing. 15 Easy Home Remedies For Sleep

Loss of appetite

Some people with smiling depression may lose their appetite or develop unhealthy eating habits. They may skip meals, eat too much junk food, or binge eat as a way to cope with the pressure.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms such as headaches, body aches, and fatigue are also common in people with smiling depression. These physical symptoms can be caused by the emotional stress of hiding one’s true feelings. The fatigue may also be due to sleep problems that are common in people with depression.

How it differs from other forms of depression 

Here are some key ways that smiling depression differs from other types of depression:

  • The outward appearance: As mentioned, people with smiling depression may seem happy and content on the outside. This can make it tough for others to realize that they’re actually struggling internally.
  • The way symptoms are expressed: People with smiling depression often keep their feelings bottled up inside rather than expressing them openly. They may also avoid talking about their problems or seeking help from others.
  • The level of functioning: Although people with smiling depression may seem to be functioning well on the surface, they often struggle in silence with things like work, school, or relationships. Underneath it all, they may feel worthless and hopeless.

It’s worth noting that everyone experiences different forms of mental illness differently, so while these differences exist between smiling depression and other types of depression, there can be some overlap too.

However, understanding what makes one form of mental illness different from another can help individuals identify what kind of support might be most helpful for them if they’re struggling with similar feelings themselves.

Risk Factors for Smiling Depression 

1. A history of depression

Those who have previously struggled with depression are at a higher risk for smiling depression, as they may be more likely to put on a brave face in order to avoid being seen as weak or needy.

2. A history of anxiety

Anxiety can lead to feelings of overwhelming stress and unease, which can trigger the need to put on a happy facade in order to hide these feelings.

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionists often put immense pressure on themselves to always appear happy and well-put together, which can lead to smiling depression when the reality is anything but perfect.

4. Difficulty expressing emotions

Those who have trouble communicating their emotions openly may start bottling them up, leading to an increased risk of developing smiling depression.

5. Having low self-esteem

People with low self-esteem are more likely to put on a fake smile to hide their true feelings from others.

6. Poor coping skill

Individuals who do not have healthy coping mechanisms in place are more likely to develop smiling depression in response to stressful life events.

7. Social media impact

Social media has a huge impact on our mental health. Studies have shown that social media use can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. This is because we compare our lives to the perfectly curated lives we see on social media. We compare our imperfections to the perfection we see online, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, both of which can contribute to depression. Social Media Detox

8. Cultural expectation

In many cultures, particularly those that place a high value on strength in the face of adversity, expressing emotions like sadness or fear is seen as weak or undesirable. As a result, people who are dealing with these feelings may bottle them up and put on a brave face instead.

This need to seem strong and resilient can also be magnified in certain professions or walks of life. For example, people who are soldiers or first responders may feel like they need to maintain a sense of composure at all times, even when they’re hurting inside. The same is true for people who have high-pressure jobs or who are caretakers for others.

The Impact of Smiling Depression on Mental Health 

Left untreated, smiling depression can worsen over time. The facade of happiness may crack under the weight of mounting stressors, leading to anxiety, substance abuse, or even suicidal thoughts. 

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be struggling with this type of depression, it’s important to seek professional help.

Mental health treatment can be incredibly effective in managing symptoms and helping people lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Treatment Options for Smiling Depression 

There are a number of treatment options available for those with smiling depression. While medication may be necessary for some, others may find that therapy, self-care, and support groups are enough to help them cope with the condition.


For some people, antidepressants may be prescribed in order to help balance out chemicals in the brain. It is important to work with a mental health professional to find the right medication and dosage, as well as to monitor side effects.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating depression. This form of therapy helps people change their negative thought patterns and behaviors. Other types of therapy, such as interpersonal therapy or problem-solving therapy, may also be helpful.


Taking care of oneself is an important part of managing any chronic condition. Those with smiling depression should make sure to eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep. Additionally, it may be helpful to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.

Support groups

There are many online and in-person support groups available for people with depression. These can provide a sense of community and allow people to share their experiences and coping strategies with others who understand what they’re going through.

Alternative treatment



Another alternative treatment for depression is exercise. Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, and it can also help prevent relapses in the condition. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood, and it also helps to reduce stress levels.


Aromatherapy is an alternative treatment for depression that uses essential oils to improve mood and mental well-being. Essential oils are natural, aromatic compounds that are extracted from plants. They are believed to have therapeutic properties that can help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

Aromatherapy can be used in a number of ways, such as inhaling the scent of essential oil through a diffuser or applying it topically to the skin. Some people also add essential oils to their bathwater or use them in massage therapy. 

How to support someone with smiling depression 

It can be difficult to support someone with smiling depression, as they may seem happy on the surface. Nonetheless, there are some tips that can help you support someone with smiling depression:

  • Encourage them to express their feelings openly and honestly, without judgment.
  • Listen to them without trying to fix or solve their problems – just letting them know that you are there for them is often enough
  • Offer practical help and support where possible, such as helping with childcare or household chores
  • Reassure them that they are not alone in how they are feeling and that help is available if they need it
  • Encourage them to seek professional help if they’re struggling to cope.
  • Help them to find healthy coping mechanisms and activities that make them feel good
  • Be a sounding board for them when they need to vent or just talk about what’s going on in their life
  • Check in on them regularly and let them know that you care

How to Prevent Smiling Depression

Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step to preventing smiling depression is to acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated, so don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend everything is okay when it’s not. Acknowledging your feelings will help you work through them in a healthy way.

Reach Out for Help

If you’re struggling to cope with your emotions, reach out for help from a friend or family member. Talking about how you’re feeling can be very helpful in managing smiling depression. You may also want to consider talking to a therapist or counselor who can provide additional support.

Set Realistic Expectations

Trying to meet unrealistic expectations will only set you up for disappointment and make your symptoms of depression worse. Instead, focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t

Eat a healthy diet

Eating nutritious foods helps your body function at its best. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Also, limit processed foods and sugary drinks, as they can contribute to feelings of depression.

Connect with others socially

Isolation can make depression worse, so it’s important to stay connected with friends and family members. Plan activities with loved ones or join a social club or group where you can meet new people.


Relates Articles:

  1. High-functioning Anxiety: What is It and What Are the Symptoms?

  2. 7 Foods to Avoid with Anxiety

  3. Anti-Anxiety Diet

  4. What is Anxiety?

Final Thoughts

Smiling depression is a serious mental health condition affecting many people worldwide. It involves individuals putting on a happy face and pretending to be okay even when they are struggling with depression. This condition can be especially dangerous because it often goes unnoticed, making it difficult for those affected to receive help. 

Therefore, it is important to educate yourself and others about the signs and symptoms of smiling depression so you can identify those suffering in silence and offer them the support they need. 

By destigmatizing mental health issues like this one, we can create a more inclusive society where everyone feels comfortable seeking help when they need it most.

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