The term “smiling depression” – appearing happy to others while internally suffering depressive symptoms – has become increasingly popular. Articles on the topic have crept up in the popular literature, and the number of Google searches for the condition has increased dramatically this year. Some may question, however, whether this is actually a real, pathological condition.While smiling depression is not a technical term that psychologists use, it is certainly possible to be depressed and manage to successfully mask the symptoms. The closest technical term for this condition is “atypical depression”. In fact, a significant proportion of people who experience a low mood and a loss of pleasure in activities manage to hide their condition in this way. And these people might be particularly vulnerable to suicide. Olivia Remes, University of Cambridge
It can be very hard to spot people suffering from smiling depression. They may seem like they don’t have a reason to be sad – they have a job, an apartment and maybe even children or a partner. They smile when you greet them and can carry pleasant conversations. In short, they put on a mask to the outside world while leading seemingly normal and active lives.
Inside, however, they feel hopeless and down, sometimes even having thoughts about ending it all. The strength that they have to go on with their daily lives can make them especially vulnerable to carrying out suicide plans. This is in contrast to other forms of depression, in which people might have suicide ideation but not enough energy to act on their intentions.
Although people with smiling depression put on a “happy face” to the outside world, they can experience a genuine lift in their mood as a result of positive occurrences in their lives. For example, getting a text message from someone they’ve been craving to hear from or being praised at work can make them feel better for a few moments before going back to feeling low.
We can also find purpose by caring for someone else. When we take the spotlight off of us and start to think about someone else’s needs and wants, we begin to feel that our lives matter. This can be achieved by volunteering, or taking care of a family member or even an animal.
Feeling that our lives matter is ultimately what gives us purpose and meaning – and this can make a significant difference for our mental health and well-being.
At the British Neuroscience Association's Festival of Neuroscience we were lucky enough to sit down with some influential neuroscientists to discuss their work. In our last interview of the series, we talk to Professor Ed Bullmore on the evidence that connects inflammation and depression, and the possibility that the immune system could be targeted as part of future antidepressant treatments.
People often talk about their “gut instincts” or how they just “felt it in my guts” Are these just figures of speech? It turns out that the gut – the digestive system – has its own nervous system that is often referred to as our “second brain”. This article investigates how our "two brains" communicate, and how breakdowns in that communication can lead to diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Impostor syndrome is experienced by millions of people around the world cross culturally, and describes difficulty internalizing one's accomplishments or abilities, and instead attributing their success to other factors. In this article, we explore the prevalence of impostor syndrome in STEM and the impact it has on the scientific community.