How Hidden Depression Hides in Plain Sight and What You Can Do to Identify It

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In today’s soundbite world, more people are depressed than ever before, yet they often hide in the shadows.

Dealing with depression can be difficult and even debilitating at times, so how do you know if someone is coping with hidden depression?

The symptoms can be subtle and often difficult to identify. This guide will help you learn how to spot the signs that someone may be depressed so you can take action.

Tell-Tale Symptoms of Hidden Depression

1. Fatigue and Lethargy
2. Avoidance
3. Hidden Depression and Workaholics
4. Intense Feelings
5. Too Much Focus on Others

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1. Fatigue and Lethargy

Maybe someone you know was once a “go-getter,” but you’ve noticed that lately they seem more tired than usual. Fatigue is a common sign of depression that’s often mistaken for simply being sleepy.

If you know someone who seems constantly tired or has a marked lack of energy, they could be dealing with hidden depression. The condition can be emotionally exhausting, which often leads people to be extremely fatigued.

If you ask someone how they’re feeling and it’s always met with, “I’m just so tired,” it could be a red flag.

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It’s completely normal to feel sluggish after a rough night with little sleep. But if someone seems consistently tired all the time, it may be a sign of an underlying problem.

Occasional lethargy and tiredness are normal, but chronic fatigue can be related to mental problems, physical problems, or both. If you ask someone how they’re feeling and it’s always met with, “I’m just so tired,” it could be a red flag.

2. Avoidance

Whether it’s canceling plans or staying away from social situations, avoidance is another sign that someone might be depressed. If someone you know is usually the life of the party but they seem to be withdrawing, this could be a result of depression.

People who are depressed will likely isolate themselves from friends, family members, and coworkers. If you notice someone pulling away, it could be a sign that something is seriously wrong.

Another sign of avoidance is when you ask someone how they’re feeling and they simply don’t want to discuss it. Hidden depression is just that: a condition where the person hides their problems, either on purpose or unknowingly.

If you can’t get the person to open up, consult the help of others who may be able to break the walls down. Isolation can make depression a lot worse, and they’ll need a good support system to help them through the recovery process.

Hidden depression is just that: a condition where the person hides their problems, either on purpose or unknowingly.
hidden depression

3. Hidden Depression and Workaholics

This one might surprise you, but many people choose to concentrate on their work as a means to deal with depression. If someone is staying late at the office or not taking personal calls due to work, it may be an issue.

Workaholics barely rest, and they tend to put their job and career over everything else. This is a coping mechanism that allows them to re-focus on something menial or that doesn’t require any emotion.

Another sign is if the person stops finding pleasure or joy in the things they normally would. This condition is known as anhedonia, and it’s another way depressed people try to cope with their condition without being overly obvious.

Working hard certainly has its merits, but when it’s getting in the way of life it can become a serious problem. Pay close attention to people you know who have suddenly taken a stronger, more serious interest in their work and who are starting to avoid social gatherings and interactions.

Revealing that you’re in pain can be embarrassing for some people, and when they focus on helping others, it serves as a distraction.

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4. Intense Feelings

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with emotions, depressed people may express their anger or irritability in a much more intense way. If a friend is normally quiet and passive and suddenly they’re prone to angry outbursts, this is definitely a red flag.

Even a small inconvenience might send this person into a tirade or fit of anger. If this behavior is not normally like them, there’s certainly a serious cause for concern.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some with depression may feel things much more deeply than others. For example, if a sad commercial comes on, the person may burst into tears.

Depression can make everything seem much more intense than it really is. This shows itself through a person’s reactions and emotional scale.

Sometimes, people may go from a fit of laughter to feelings of despair in minutes. If you witness this behavior, there’s no doubt that something much more complex is happening within them.

depression
Sometimes, people may go from a fit of laughter to feelings of despair in minutes. If you witness this behavior, there’s no doubt that something much more complex is happening within them.

5. Too Much Focus on Others

When a person is depressed, it’s much easier for them to redirect their focus onto others. And while caring for other people is certainly admirable, they may be doing so at their own expense.

Depressed people may genuinely care about other people, but they tend to do so at a much more intense level. This is a mechanism that allows them to put up a wall so they don’t let others see their vulnerability.

If someone is going out of their way to help others but refuses to accept help for themselves, it may be a sign that they have hidden depression. Check on your friends and make sure they’re getting the help they need, too.

Revealing that you’re in pain can be embarrassing for some people, and when they focus on helping others, it serves as a distraction. Ask your friends or family how they are feeling often, and see if they are overwhelmed. If the answer is yes, don’t be afraid to extend a helping hand.

hidden depression
Depression can make everything seem much more intense than it really is.

Help is Available

Hidden depression is more common than you might think, but that doesn’t mean that help is hard to find. Reach out to the people you love and check on them frequently.

Look for the signs that someone might be depressed so you can be a better listener and friend.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and explore some of our other information on mental health and wellness on this site.

Your Turn: Have you or someone you love ever experienced symptoms of hidden depression? What were they? Share how you came to identify these hidden symptoms and how you coped with them. Feel free to share about your experience in the comments below.

A version of this post originally appeared on our sister site, NYC Therapy + Wellness.

Dr. Logan Jones

Dr. Logan Jones is a Psychologist and Founder of Clarity Therapy. Sign up for his free 30 Days of Gratitude email series and follow him on Instagram at @drloganjones.

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