Depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Over the years, it has affected millions across the globe. For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression.
Do you appear happy but feel numb and vacant inside? Recently, another term “smiling depression” seems to have gained momentum among youngsters all across the globe. Google has recorded an upswing in the number of searches for the mental ailment.
Spot the symptoms
So, how to find out if you or a close one is suffering from the mental disorder? Dr Kedar Tilwe,consultant psychiatrist at the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, reveals how to spot the symptoms.
“Pervasive sadness may be felt but is often wilfully disregarded by the person and they may make a sustained, conscious and emotionally tiring effort to appear ‘happy’ in public,” he says, adding, “Often a person may appear cheerful in public, not giving even a hint of deep inner personal turmoil.”
Shedding light on the behavioural changes, Dr Tilwe adds, “There may also be a decreased interest in previously pleasurable activities, altered sleep patterns, reduced appetite or difficulty in concentration.”
“Like depression, causes are usually multifactorial and have a bio-psycho-social model of causation. However a major life event such as loss of a spouse, the breakdown of a marriage or loss of a job can act as a precipitating factor,” he says.
“Stigma associated with mental illness or the ‘need to be stable’ and ‘not showing any sign of weaknesses’ is a major reason why the person continues to suffer silently,” Dr Tilwe adds.
How to help treat the patient?
Spotting the symptoms and encouraging the person to seek professional help is the most crucial part of treatment. Dr Tilwe suggests “psychotherapy like CBT, REBT, supportivecounselling” and adds, “at times, necessary pharmacological interventions such as anti-depressants are safe and recommended modality of treatment that can be initiated.”
So, if you or someone close to you is suffering from “smiling depression”, the first step is to accept the problem, recognise the need for professional help and speak to experts. After all, you can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are dealing with inside.