Smiling Depression; something which seems to have become a damaging trend in recent years. This is a kind of depression which I am sure must have even more increased during the lockdown period. But what exactly is this? How can these two completely opposite feelings/emotions be termed together: Smiling and Depression?
Let’s find out!!
Psychologists describe smiling depression as ‘masked depression’, for people suffering from this condition literally mask their feelings of restlessness, hopelessness, irritability, thoughts of self-harm, inability to maintain relationships etc from those around them and instead appear to be happy, smiling and joyful in the company of other people. These people go about their life normally as they always have been in life but this condition differs significantly from low functioning depression or high functioning depression. This is because in comparison to situations wherein the severity of depression can be gauged in terms of impairment in functioning across various spheres of an individual’s life; in cases of smiling depression, it becomes very difficult to assess the severity because the individual proceeds with the same level of functioning which has been earlier too and it is only through very subtle signs that we can attempt to gauge the condition.
It would not be wrong to say that with the advent of technology in peoples’ lives; especially in the lives of children and adolescents, cases of smiling depression seems to have touched a new high. Everyone in various ways have become mini-celebrities of sorts with their number of posts and likes deciding who is much better. Social media influencers have cropped up and the massive surge of adolescents all over the world engaging in social media across all platforms has really made us question the intent of technology in the first place. But why am I discussing all this right now?
This discussion is important because showcasing our worlds on the medium of social media allows people to mask their real life problems not just from the world but also from themselves albeit temporarily. It shifts the focus from what might be lacking from their lives; it is possible that they themselves might not be aware of it. Tik-Tok is a very good example of it. Recently during the lockdown, among the various suicide cases we all heard of; there were some which involved people associated in Tik-Tok videos. When the cases first came to light, the first reaction was that of surprise, for people could not just believe the fact that someone who looked so happy in the video just uploaded a fortnight ago could take such a drastic step.
One of the reasons why mental health is still not being taken seriously might be because of the mindset. We all except at the back of our minds for mental health to always show up visibly enough for it to get treated just like physical diseases. And in the event of it being visible enough, people often push it off with statements such as it being just a phase or that one is being emotional etc. As a result it is possible that conditions such as smiling depression may have increased in recent years.
It would not be wrong to say that today’s world has become a highly narcissistic one. People have become more conscious of how one speaks, looks, reacts etc rather than focus on the overall personality. Beauty is everything. Along parallel lines, the constant attempts at showing a peek into one’s life starting from what one wears, looks, eats etc; there has come in place an invisible competition into whose life is better. Either in fear of backlash or not to fall under one’s own eyes; people prefer to just show a false self of how happy, joyful and satisfied they are with their life rather than show the bruises of their life in their original self. This is what smiling depression looks like. Perhaps this condition is much more dangerous than the depression we all know of for the risk of suicide is also high. Constantly fighting the beasts within while putting on a smile on the face actually shows the invisibility of mental health.