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7 Things People With Hidden Depression Do

7 Things People With Hidden Depression Do

People who feel depressed are usually easy enough to spot: they may be gloomy, sad, and listless. But what about those who have hidden depression? They may an be extrovert and good company! This is the problem with concealed depression as these sufferers are experts in disguising the real situation. How can we spot them, and how can we help? Here are 10 typical things that people with hidden depression do to help us understand that something is not quite right.

1. They may be outgoing and cheerful

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that depression was hard to spot when people had a cheerful disposition, especially if they were elderly. The research team had thought that the introverts would be the ones who would have difficulty in coming out about their depression but it seems that the opposite may be true. We should not take it for granted that a cheerful and sociable person may be immune from depression. We should be on the look out for some indicative signs and above all, we should always be empathic listeners.

2. They may hide their depression

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    There is some interesting research on the attitude that Europeans and Australians have towards depression. There is so much stigma attached to depression in Australia that many sufferers are determined not to reveal it at all. They may feel embarrassed or simply fear that they may lose their job – reflected in the number of sick days taken because of mental health problems. The figures show that Australians were taking off 14 days for a bout of depression compared to an average of 36 days for Europeans.

    3. They may need healing or closure from some past trauma

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      Imagine the perfect hostess: she has great kids, a rewarding career and a stable marriage. It still may be that there is a painful episode in that person’s life which has never been properly healed. Psychologists have an acronym for this type of person which is the PHDP (Perfectly-Hidden-Depressed Person). The outward display of confidence and happiness is in sharp contrast to what is going on inside. The problem is often ignored, especially by the sufferer who may end up committing suicide. The tragedy is that nobody was ever able to spot the signs, or that the sufferer never had the courage to talk to someone. We should always listen carefully when a friend or loved one talks to us about exhaustion and anxiety.

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      4. They may have abnormal eating habits

      Most experts now believe that there may be a strong link between eating disorders and depression. These are two separate illnesses; though one may lead to the other, or they may arise simultaneously. More and more men are suffering from eating disorders. There may be many causes such as media pressures, body image/exercise, and depression. If you notice that a loved one has appetite changes, try to talk to her/him about them and urge them to get treatment. Hidden depression may well be the trigger here.

      5. They may be non-committal about their happiness

      Very often, people with hidden depression display a lack of enthusiasm for things they used to love doing. If the person claims that they are certainly not depressed but they just don’t care anymore, this may well be a sign that something is amiss. If you read Eve Wood’s book, 10 Steps to Take Charge of Your Emotional Life, you will find more examples of how discovering self-empowerment can be the answer to coming to terms with depression and anxiety. There are also useful chapters on how counseling, medication, or alternative treatments are possible treatment options. Getting the person to talk about their problems is usually the first step in seeking treatment.

      6. They may display irritation and anger

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        We usually associate depression with apathy, helplessness, melancholic thoughts and crying. But there are other symptoms of depression which often go undetected because they are simply dismissed as temporary outbursts. They are assumed to be just blips on a person’s radar and can be safely ignored – the truth is that angry outbursts and being irritable are often manifestations of depression. Many men choose this way of expressing their depression.

        7. They may not be getting enough sleep

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          If your loved one is complaining about not getting enough sleep (or even oversleeping), it could be a warning sign that there is something wrong. These sleep problems may be just the outward sign of a deeper and more troubling cause which could be anxiety, lethargy or depression. Sleep problems and depression are very often closely connected. It is always worth probing gently to find out what the cause might be, if the person is prepared to open up.

          Many cases of depression go undetected and untreated, often with tragic results. Between 10% to 15% of people with severe, untreated depression commit suicide. As we have seen above, people may hide it or fake it. Sometimes, they just keep it a dark secret which they never want to reveal. In addition, there are those who have a different public image from their own private and tormented selves. The challenge is to look out for possible signs and help the person to get treatment.

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          photo credit: Pinterest

          Featured photo credit: Sad child./anthony kelly via flickr.com

          More by this author

          Robert Locke

          Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

          10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And How to Be Motivated) 7 Things You Can Do to Deal with Low-Energy Days 40 Powerful Productivity Quotes From Highly Successful People 10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

          Posture

          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

          Facial Expressions

          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

          2. Relax Your Face

          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

          3. Smile More

          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

          4. Hand Gestures

          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

          5. Enhance Your Handshake

          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

          Final Takeaways

          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

          Reference

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