“Smiling Depression”, Caged Behind a Smile With a Killer

smiling depression

Today topic is on “Smiling Depression, Caged Behind a Smile With a Killer”. When you meet and regularly talk to clients from different backgrounds and different experiences, The first lesson i learnt is to NEVER  stop at a smile. I might sound a bit cold but it’s better to appreciate a smile but still press beyond it to save a life.

Let’s begin by understanding what a smile is. What is a smile?

noun [C]

B1 happy or friendly expression on the face in which the ends of the mouthcurve up slightly, often with the lipsmovingapart so that the teeth can beseen:

A smile also masks one of the deadliest emotions. “Depression”. The term “Smiling Depression” is more in our faces now than ever. Over the years, i’ve seen chirpy, happy, achievers with a mind of diamond come in with smiles that light up a room only to blow the bulb afterwards. The most depressed people i have ever met are usually the happiest in the room. Try to always go behind the smile. It could save a life.

The term “smiling depression” – appearing happy to others while internally suffering depressive symptoms – is something more and more people are searching for on the internet this year. This is a condition that though it may not be described as pathological, is prevalent. Atypical Depression is the closest term to this condition because it has to do with people who manage to hide their depression from friends and loved ones. These are the group most vulnerable to suicide.


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 –  Most of the cases i’ve seen had it altogether. A great career, wonderful family, booming businesses, a dog and live in the best part of town.They have an almost permanent smile on their faces with the most amazing talent to hold a full discussion. These are the real life example of the fictional character “The Joker” from the Batman movies.

With a picture perfect selfie, yet on the inside plagued by feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide.

One worrisome thing about people with “Smiling Depression” is this.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.”
These peculiar cases sometimes get happy and feel a positive mood lift when happy things occur in their life but almost immediately go back to their “low” status quo the moment all feelings of momentary joy leaves.
I have compiled a list of symptoms which i have noticed over a period with Ten (10) clients who battle with “Smiling Depression”. While one of the symptoms may not be an indicator of the presence of this condition, a combination of two or three of may be a warning signal for you or someone close to you;
  • I feel really hurt when criticized
  • I feel really hurt when rejected in (business proposals, spouse, teachers) but smile it off.
  • My legs and arms feel heavy some times
  • I over-eat
  • I am happiest when i’m on my own with nobody around so i can be myself
  • After work/business hours i start feeling very low and moody
  • I just want to sleep and forget everything else.

Smiling depression is common with people who possess a certain type of temperament causing them to; expect failure, think too much about bad things which have happened, find it difficult forgiving themselves for mistakes made, cannot get over periods when they embarassed themselves or their loved ones.

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Treating Smiling Depression

One of the most difficult things in known medicine or mental fields is attempting to treat what you cannot determine it’s cause. However, a low mood is one of the chief indicators of this condition. With this in mind, a low mood can be caused by;

  • Financial Worries
  • Relationship Issues
  • Career-related Problems
  • Feelings of Lack of Purpose with one’s life.


With the state of things the world over, as many as two in ten people are depressed and between 20% to 40% of these people are plagued by the atypical type of depression which is most similar to “Smiling Depression”. This condition is something that started out early in life from ages 5 to 10 and lingered for a long time that many people who suffer from it have erroneously believed it’s a mood.

If any of the things mentioned so far sound familiar to you, it may be important to get help by simply calling my office on +2348181675758 to talk and get help. The unfortunate thing about this condition is that many who suffer from it do NOT think they have a problem because no aspect of their daily lives a are affected. Some of them (especially the famous ones) almost feel ungrateful because they do not have anything to be sad about. This makes them close up, not telling anyone about what they struggle with since everyone else isn’t as lucky as they are.

Your First Step is to Recognize it & Open Up

Understanding that this situation exists and is serious is your first move to becoming better. Stop explaining away and start consciously getting a solution, you break free from the cycle and chains of depression that have held you back. Yes, depression is the major reason many people do not achieve their God-given potential.Now that you know, search for a professional in your locality that can help you.

Exercise Helps Too

Increased physical activity have also been shown to have tremendous mental health benefits. Meditation is something that some experts believe helps but in Africa, meditation might just still be murky terrain to dive into so let’s stick to the excercising. A research paper i read by Rutgers University in the United States actually showed that people who had done meditation and physical activity twice a week experienced a drop of almost 40% in their depression levels only eight weeks into the study. I tried this with 5 clients and they confirmed that after their 3rd week of indulging in physical activity, they felt better.

Trauma Bonding, Relationships Built on Control & Abuse


Change How You See Yourself (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Most holy books tell us that the power of thought is directly linked to living expression. So growing up for me has been a series of thought-changing experience after another. This is something i have tried with few of the cases i had and it worked like a charm. The self-limiting beliefs, not forgiving self, guilt, feelings of hurt/rejection gave way the moment most of my clients started to actively re-learn their thinking patterns.

Take Attention Off Yourself (You Focus On Yourself Too Much)

If many can apply this rule in their life, half of the depression cases would have been solved. This also naturally helped many of my clients find new meaning in their life which is the cornerstone of good mental health. The Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said

” Do NOT aim to be in a “tensionless state”, free of responsibility and challenges, but rather strive for something in life. We can find purpose by taking the attention away from ourselves and placing it onto something else. So find a worthwhile goal and try to make regular progress on it, even if it’s for a small amount each day, because this can really have a positive impact.

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. This was the very reason many of the care-givers you see out there including your’s truly do what we do. With each passing day we help others, we become better.

I hope this topic “Smiling Depression, Caged Behind a Smile With a Killer” was helpful for someone struggling with depression and the need to keep up a smile. It’s nothing to feel guilty, ashamed or helpless about. It’s not just you BUT something many go through and once you can name a thing, you have power over it. Call my counseling office at +2348181675758 and let your journey begin.

Written by Obike Temple.

Temple Obike is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author and psychotherapist who has counseled over one thousand, two hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, abuse victims (substance, physical, emotional and sexual) and grief-stricken clients. With over 70,000 in-counseling minutes (1,000+ hours) accrued in practice. He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice out of Lagos, Nigeria and has counseling centers in Abuja and Port-Harcourt. His practice also provides options for both online and on-site services.

His private practice has positively empowered lives through his online counseling, podcasts, free advisory services and free online materials.  Readership of his articles also receive a growing number of visitors alongside subscriptions to his email newsletter at templeobike.com. His passion for empowering and uncovering the secrets to lifelong marriages and personal development led to his new book titled “Soul Bodega” available on amazon and across other online and traditional stores.

Never give up on yourself! You are a journey happening through various destinations.

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Famous People Who died Fighting Depression With A Smile. This is the true face of depression.


1 Comment

  • Hurt People Always Hurt Others. Heal First. Temple Obike

    October 26, 2020 - 5:54 am

    […] I) Alienating Loved Ones  & Depression: Hurt people usually have a self-destructive streak that pushes away people who care for them. This is a trait that ties into a school of thought that says “hurting people not knowing how to receive love”. Seeing other people willing to show them love is a painful concept to them. This reason here is one of the reasons many marriages are hurting. This is also leads them to a point of depression. […]

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