Have you ever heard about “Walking” or “Smiling” depression? Don’t be surprised if you have not. In a society where our lives appear to be increasingly defined by the mantra “I’m doing therefore I am”, a lapse in awareness might just feel like the price we pay for our busy life styles. Walking Depression is a term that has recently been gaining attention in the field of Psychology, it describes a form of masked depression whereby individuals continue to carry out their everyday life and responsibilities, sometimes with a smile on their faces, while deep inside battling with severe symptoms of depression, including anxiety, anger, feelings of worthlessness, shame, and self-loathing.
Do you Suffer from Smiling Depression?
Take a few moments to do this short test to find out. How many of the following have you experienced over the past three weeks?
Lack of purpose in your life
- Lack of pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
- Feeling crying for no apparent reason
- Being unable to find flow in your work
- Reduced creativity
- Poor sleeping pattern
- Use of stimulants, alcohol, drugs or prescribed medications to function
- Relationships problems
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- Suicidal thoughts
If you have consistently experienced five or more of these symptoms over the past three weeks, you may be suffering from walking depression and not being ashamed to ask for help.
In my experience, as a Clinical Psychologist smiling depression can be hard to recognise because it doesn’t fit the most common presentation of major depression however, if left untreated, it can be just as debilitating and dangerous.
In my work with clients suffering from smiling depression they reported taking a long time before admitting they needed help, often for very similar reasons: feeling weak or flawed for not coping as well as they wanted, feeling ashamed about being depressed, feeling that it was their fault and did not deserve help, feeling scared to uncover grief and anger, feeling guilty about letting people down, fear of stigma.
Can Seeing a Therapist Help with Smiling Depression?
Seeing a therapist can help you to understand your difficulties, identify areas of struggle, but also your strengths and what really matter in your life and use these to regain focus and a sense of direction.
What can a Therapist Offer If I Have a Walking Depression?
Over the past few years therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) the latest evolution of CBT, increasingly have become treatments of choice in most psychological difficulties including mood disorders.
With ACT you will learn to accept your unwanted thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, or memories, you will learn to step back from your thoughts and observe them, with the goal of accepting them, you will find out what really matter to you in life and act in a way that is consistent with this.
How can I get treatment for Walking/Smiling Depression?
If you would like to talk to someone to help you with this issue please continue to our page dedicated to the treatment for Depression.