hidden symptoms of depression

11 Hidden Symptoms of Depression you need to know about in 2023.

Writen By: Faiza Saifur
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: July 23, 2023

Did you know that there are hidden symptoms of depression that often go unnoticed? 

When someone tries hard to hide their symptoms and give the impression that everything is well, they are said to be suffering from hidden depression, also known as “smiling depression” or “concealed depression.” At job and in public, they may come across as well performing, but when they are alone, then deal with the usual depression symptoms.

Yes, Depression goes beyond just feeling sad or tired. It can bring along hidden symptoms that can be equally tiring. One of these hidden signs is losing interest or enjoyment in things that used to bring happiness. Activities that you once loved are now seen as boring, social relations feel like a burden and even the simplest joys of life lose their value. This can make you feel disconnected and lonely as if something important is missing from your life.

What’s worse? These struggles are often invisible to others,  and that’s the reason we are here to uncover the hidden symptoms of depression so that you can be guided properly and can help yourself or your loved ones. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Depression includes hidden symptoms that are overlooked, that are beyond the commonly identified signs of persistent sadness and lack of energy.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in once-enjoyed activities is a hidden symptom of smiling depression, leading to feelings of disconnection and isolation.
  • Cognitive impairment, which is a mental health disorder, known as “brain fog,” are often unnoticed symptoms of depression, resulting in difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making.
  • These hidden symptoms can significantly impact individuals’ daily lives, making even simple tasks challenging and affecting personal relationships.
  • It is important to identify and address the hidden symptoms of depression to provide comprehensive support and understanding to those who may be silently fighting the condition.

11 symptoms of hidden depression.

Let’s go through the detailed analysis of the hidden symptoms of depression.

1. Putting on a fake smile

Individuals who suffer from hidden depression wear a fake mask of forced smiles. Often considered as a toxic positive attitude. The term “toxic positivity” has become popular recently, and with good reason. Overly upbeat attitudes,  and outward displays of happiness could all be masks for deeper issues.

When someone avoids acknowledging their own pain or changes the subject, it may be a sign that they are hesitant to convey how they genuinely feel or that they are denying their experience.

2. Call out for help first and then suddenly step back.

Individuals who are hiding their depression could have “vulnerability hangover” symptoms which means getting feelings of shame and guilt after sharing what’s happening with them.In other words, opening up about what’s really happening only to later feel uncomfortable, regretful, ashamed, or in any other way uncomfortable about allowing somebody to get so close.

They might even phone a therapist and open up to them about their darkest thoughts, just to cancel a consultation at the last minute and say, “Nah, I’m alright.”

On media platforms, like instagram, whatsapp or facebook, where posts with a lot of personal information are shared. They post private information online and then quickly erase the posts because they feel like over sharing.

3. Loss of Interest and Pleasure: 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health. A significant symptom of hidden depression is the loss of interest or pleasure in activities that once brought joy and fulfillment. Hobbies, social engagements, and even spending time with loved ones may no longer hold the same charm.

In hidden depression, when someone loses interest and pleasure, it means they don’t enjoy things they used to like. They may feel emotionally numb, have less motivation, and not get excited about activities or plans. They might feel disconnected from others and lack energy or enthusiasm. If you think someone is going through this, be understanding and encourage them to get help from a professional who can understand and support them. 

4. Increased Fatigue and Low Energy: 

In hidden depression, increased fatigue and low energy levels mean feeling tired all the time and lacking motivation to do things. It can feel like your body is heavy, moving slowly, and it’s hard to concentrate or complete tasks.  

While fatigue and low energy are commonly associated with depression, they can display differently in hidden depression. Instead of feeling constantly tired, individuals with hidden depression seem energetic and active, and they hide their inner struggles. 

However, behind closed doors, they may experience a constant feeling of fatigue, finding it challenging to gather the energy for daily tasks and responsibilities.

5. Persistent Irritability and Restlessness: 

Hidden depression can display as irritability, anger, or restlessness, rather than persistent sadness. Individuals suffering from hidden depression may find themselves easily frustrated or quick to anger, often without a clear cause. This symptom can weaken relationships and create a cycle of guilt and self-blame, as they struggle to understand the hidden source of their irritability.

Persistent irritability feels like getting easily annoyed or frustrated, while restlessness means feeling unable to relax or settle down. It’s like having a constant urge to keep moving or distract oneself. Finding peace becomes difficult, and even small things can feel overwhelming, making them easily upset. If you think someone is going through this, be understanding and suggest they get help from a professional who can support and understand them.

6. Changes in Appetite and Weight: 

As stated by research, changes in appetite and weight are common symptoms of hidden depression. Some individuals may experience a decrease in appetite, leading to weight loss, while others may turn to food for comfort and experience weight gain. These changes are often linked to emotional distress, but they can easily be ignored or linked to other factors if the hidden depression remains unnoticed.

Keep an eye out for additional signs of hidden depression if you observe a significant transformation in someone’s overall body composition.

7. Sleep Disturbances: 

Are your friends or family members complaining about their recent fatigue or lack of energy? Do they express any additional symptoms of sleep problems, such as puffiness under their eyes?

According to the National Library of Medicine, Sleep disorders are core symptoms of depression. Hidden depression can disturb sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or oversleeping. That means you might sleep too much or too little. Individuals may struggle to fall asleep, you frequently wake up throughout the night, and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Know that sleep disturbances can worsen other symptoms of depression,like  affecting mood, concentration, making decisions and overall well-being.

8. Difficulty Concentrating and Making Decisions: 

Psych Central has stated that trouble making decisions is one of the most common psychological symptoms of depression. Cognitive impairments, commonly referred to as “brain fog,” are common in hidden depression. Individuals may find it challenging to concentrate, experience memory setbacks, and have difficulty making decisions. This mental cloudiness can hinder work or academic performance and result in a sense of frustration and self-doubt.

In hidden depression, difficulty concentrating and making decisions can feel overwhelming and confusing. It’s like having a foggy mind or feeling mentally scattered. It becomes hard to focus on tasks or conversations, and even simple decisions can seem challenging to make. Thoughts may feel jumbled or slow, making it difficult to process information or come to conclusions. It can lead to frustration and a sense of being mentally stuck.  

9. Physical Symptoms without Medical Explanation: 

Hidden depression can manifest in various physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, digestive issues, and unexplained bodily pain. These physical disorders may have no apparent medical cause, leading individuals to seek repeated medical treatments without finding the real cause.

In hidden depression, experiencing physical symptoms without a medical explanation can be confusing and frustrating. It’s like having various physical discomforts such as headaches, stomachaches, or body aches that don’t have a clear cause or can’t be explained by a medical condition. These symptoms may come and go or persist for a prolonged period, causing distress and uncertainty. It can be challenging to understand that these physical manifestations may be linked to underlying emotional or psychological distress. 

10. Social Withdrawal and Isolation: 

According to WebMD, Social withdrawal is the most common symptom of hidden depression. Individuals with hidden depression may withdraw from social activities, preferring to spend more time alone. They may avoid gatherings or make excuses to say no to invitations, often due to a fear of burdening others or being unable to mask their true feelings. This social withdrawal can deepen feelings of loneliness and contribute to a sense of isolation.

In hidden depression, social withdrawal and isolation can feel like wanting to be alone most of the time. It’s like losing interest in socializing or being around others. The person may prefer to stay at home or avoid social activities they used to enjoy. They might feel a sense of disconnection or not wanting to burden others with their emotions. It can be hard to reach out or engage in conversations, leading to a sense of loneliness or isolation.  

11. Self-critical thoughts

A destructive and self-critical internal conversation is negative self-talk. Many depressed persons engage in negative self-talk and automatically think unfavorable things about themselves.

Negative self-talk has detrimental consequences on well-being and cognitive performance, according to research trusted Sources, despite the paucity of studies on its long-term effects.

In hidden depression, self-critical thoughts can feel like being too hard on yourself all the time. It’s like having a constant inner voice that criticizes and judges everything you do. You may focus on your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings, and blame yourself excessively for things that go wrong.  These self-critical thoughts can be persistent and contribute to a negative self-image.

How do I know I have hidden depression?

Hidden or High-Functioning Depression can be challenging to identify because individuals experiencing it often maintain an energetic outward appearance in their daily lives. It may be difficult for them to identify and accept their struggles. However, several signs and symptoms can reveal the presence of hidden depression. Ask yourself if you have these symptoms. 

  • Are you facing constant fatigue and low energy levels, regardless of sufficient rest? That makes it difficult to complete daily tasks and maintain motivation. Changes in appetite and weight, such as overeating or loss of appetite, are also observed.
  • Sleep disturbances are common in hidden depression. Are you struggling with insomnia, finding it difficult to fall asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early? Irritability, restlessness, and increased sensitivity to criticism or frustration may also be present.
  • Difficulties with concentration, decision-making, and memory can arise as hidden depression affects cognitive function. Feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, and self-criticism plague you? you keep blaming yourself for things beyond your control.
  • Do you prefer spending more time alone and avoiding social interactions to prevent burdening others with their struggle? Additionally, physical symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, or chronic pain cause you without a clear medical cause.

It’s important to remember that symptoms can vary among individuals, and experiencing some of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean someone has hidden depression. Seeking professional help from a mental health provider is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate support. They can provide guidance, help individuals understand their experiences, and develop a suitable treatment plan, if necessary.

How can one treat depression?

Hidden depression can be treated. When patients seek care, symptoms frequently improve, though it may take some time before the results are felt. The most popular and successful therapies for depression are medicines, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

Brain-stimulating therapies may be an extra choice when therapy and medicine haven’t completely eased severe symptoms.

Moreover, some depression symptoms may be lessened with exercise, better sleep habits, and a diet low in processed, sugary foods (such as the Mediterranean diet).

Why do individuals hide their depression?

People hide depression because they are afraid of how others will react or judge them. They don’t want to burden their family and friends with their problems and worry that sharing their feelings will make them a bother. 

Sometimes, individuals may not even realize they are experiencing depression or understand what they are going through. They may believe they should be able to handle it on their own or feel ashamed about seeking help. 

Moreover, societal expectations and pressures to maintain a positive image can make it difficult for individuals to reveal their struggles. 

Lastly, expressing emotions, especially those related to depression, can be challenging for some people. They may not have learned healthy ways to communicate their feelings or lack the words to describe what they are going through. 

To help people feel more comfortable in seeking support, it is crucial to foster an environment of understanding, acceptance, and open conversations about mental health.


How can hidden symptoms of depression impact relationships and daily functioning?

Hidden symptoms of depression can weaken relationships, as individuals may withdraw socially, struggle with emotional closeness, or have difficulty expressing their true emotions. They can also impact daily functioning by reducing motivation, impairing concentration, and affecting overall productivity.

What strategies can individuals use to cope with hidden symptoms of depression?

Coping strategies for hidden symptoms of depression can include seeking professional help, engaging in therapy or counseling, practicing self-care, maintaining a support network, engaging in stress-reducing activities, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits.

How do hidden symptoms of depression differ from more commonly recognized symptoms?

Hidden symptoms of depression often involve individuals appearing functional and maintaining a normal display, despite experiencing internal struggles. Unlike more obvious symptoms like severe sadness or inability to get out of bed, hidden symptoms may be subtle and easily overlooked by others.

What causes hidden symptoms of depression?

The causes of hidden symptoms of depression are complex and can vary from person to person. They may arise from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Stressful life events, trauma, chronic illness, or a family history of depression can also contribute.

Discover more about Causes in my previous blog post “11 Major Causes of Depression” as we delve into the underlying factors that impact our mental well-being.

Are hidden symptoms of depression more common in certain populations or age groups?

Hidden symptoms of depression can affect anyone regardless of age or background. However, research suggests that they may be more prevalent in certain populations, such as high-achieving individuals, older adults, or those with chronic illnesses.

What are some common misconceptions about hidden symptoms of depression?

One common misunderstanding is that individuals with hidden depression are always happy or have their lives together. In reality, they can experience intense inner unrest despite appearing active. Another misunderstanding is that hidden symptoms are less severe than more overt signs, but they can still have a significant impact on a person’s mental health.

Can hidden symptoms of depression go unnoticed or undiagnosed for a long time?

Yes, hidden symptoms of depression can often go unnoticed or undiagnosed for an extended period. Individuals may be skilled at masking their internal struggles, and the absence of overt signs can make it challenging for others to recognize their distress.

How can I differentiate between hidden symptoms of depression and everyday mood fluctuations?

Differentiating between hidden symptoms of depression and normal mood fluctuations can be challenging. However, if symptoms persist for an extended period, significantly impact daily functioning, and interfere with overall well-being, it may be indicative of hidden depression.

Are there any warning signs that loved ones should watch out for in someone experiencing hidden symptoms of depression?

Loved ones should watch out for changes in behavior, such as increased social withdrawal, persistent low mood, unexplained physical complaints, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and expressions


Not every depressed person will display the signs of sadness and hopelessness. Sometimes, a person’s only symptoms are purely physical, including fatigue, insomnia, or weight changes, use of alcohol or drugs, feeling upset or angry, and losing interest in enjoyable hobbies. 

If a loved one has hidden depression, good help is available.  Those who think they might have depression should think about talking to a doctor or mental health expert about it. Know that depression is a treatable condition and there are a lot of therapies and treatment techniques available for which you have to seek mental health doctors.