(M) to the (A) to the (S) to the (K)
Put the mask upon the face just to make the next day,
Feds be hawkin me
Jokers be stalking me,
I walk the streets and camouflage my identity,
My posse in the Brooklyn wear the mask.
My crew in the Jersey wear the mask.
Stick up kids doing boogie woogie wear the mask.
Yeah everybody wear da mask but how long will it last.

Fugees, The Score, Mask 1996

As Halloween approaches, millions of people will go out and buy costumes and masks. These masks will be of anything from Aliens and Star Trek characters to President Obama and Miley Cyrus. Although masks and Halloween kick off the holiday season, there are many people who wear masks year round. These people cover up their true emotions and desires; in particular is the issue of masked depression.

Depression can be tricky to recognize as there aren’t universal signs. Yes, we know that sad and depressed people cry, but at times so do happy people.  There are also gender differences that must be taken into account when it comes to depression. For example, a depressed man may appear angry rather than sad, but a depressed female may not show any signs of anger.  Depression can trigger insomnia, but you may also feel tired all the time. These are just a few of the factors combine to make it difficult when treating depression.

Masked depression is rather challenging for a number of reasons. The client masking the depression will not admit that they are depressed or even sad. Not only will they not admit it, they walk around with a smile on their face. Most individuals masking their depression show no impairment in their functioning. What you notice are people with full-time jobs and active social lives. However, underneath the facade they are struggling with low self-esteem and sometimes thoughts of suicide.

Get Help

It is important that individuals with depression, both masked and unmasked, seek professional help. The longer individuals go without treatment, the more the pressures compound. Over time it gets harder to cope and keep up a happy face. Even during therapy, clients at times try to pretend that they are doing fine. I have had clients in my office who smile for their entire session. This is an obvious sign for me that there is more going on.

Seeking the help of a good therapist will help you realize that you are not alone, you’re not weak, and you’re not crazy. Sometimes treatment is brief, only requiring a few sessions. Other times clients may need to be temporarily hospitalized and monitored by a psychiatrist. When left untreated, some people turn to alcohol and drugs as a way of coping with their depression, which complicates treatment.

If you are struggling with depression, do yourself a favor and reach out to someone for help. If you don’t have someone local to talk to, you can call The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s time to come out from behind the mask.

Mercier (92 of 158)Jameson is a husband and father of three beautiful children, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and professor in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He works with families and individuals in the areas of self-improvement, relationships, and more. Jameson also consults with businesses and organizations seeking to improve employee relationships and build team morale. For more info, visit www.jamesonmercier.com or email info@jamesonmercier.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Mercier Wellness & Consulting or via Twitter@JamesonMercier.