Despite all the attention depression receives these days, it’s really hard to spot sometimes. Depression is not “having a bad day”, and it’s also not an emotion: It’s no more possible to be a “little bit depressed” than it is to be a little bit pregnant.
And it’s not uncommon for people feeling depressed to hide it from others, often with a high level of success. People often talk of putting on a “mask”, and how painful and excruciating that can be.
That can make it really hard for friends and family to know what’s going on. Don’t worry, it’s not personal, the nature of depression means the person suffering feels they have to hide how they feel.
Depression also isn’t an “illness”, in the same sense as the flu, or diabetes. At the risk of being really picky, I’m not even comfortable with the phrase “having depression”, I think “experiencing depression” is more helpful.
Why? It’s important from the point of view of expectations: studies have shown that when people are told their depression is due to a “chemical imbalance in their brain” they report less hope and faith in any treatment being able to help them.