Woman sitting alone with her hand on her head, looking depressed

Sandhya is a tireless chatterbox at the office. She constantly regales others with her witty and astute comments. She always has something to laugh about, and often, most of her jokes are at her own expense. At home, she usually keeps to herself, eats often and sleeps at odd hours. In fact she barely sleeps, and often spends hours lying in bed, struggling with insomnia. Her family thinks she is absolutely normal.

Sandhya suffers from hidden depression. Most of us have some idea of the symptoms of depression—those persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in people and activities, a negative mindset toward situations, decreased appetite and sudden weight loss. What is less known is that several people suffer from severe depression without showing any of these signs. So, how do we recognise if a loved one is suffering from hidden depression?

Here are some characteristic features that could indicate that a person you know and care about needs help:

Enforced Joie-de-Vivre

Like Sandhya, such people always put on a happy face for the world. However, this is a façade. Deep down, they are suffering with feelings of utter desolation, which is so unbearable and unthinkable that they prefer to escape into a world of forced gaiety. If you are perceptive and observant, you will notice fleeting moments when the façade vanishes and you get a glimpse into the dismay that the person may actually be experiencing.

Erratic sleeping and eating patterns

Most people with hidden depression have an odd relationship with food.

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A version of this article was first published in the May 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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