In The News

04 Oct 2011

Thousands of us are hiding our misery behind a mask Could YOU be a victim of smiling depression?

He’s one of the country’s best-loved comedians, leaving audiences in stitches with his fizzing sense of humour. Yet last month David Walliams admitted he’s suffered with depression for much of his life. ‘I go through periods of intense self-loathing,’ he said.

Walliams is one of a long line of funny men and women who have battled depression. These include Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Lenny Henry and, perhaps most famously, Tony Hancock, who committed suicide aged 44.

These comedians chose to mask their inner torment with a ‘happy’ public persona and experts believe millions of Britons are doing the same, victims of what they call ‘smiling depression’.

‘Smiling depression is a term often used to refer to a patient who you think is depressed, but doesn’t look it and often won’t admit it,’ says leading London psychiatrist Dr Cosmo Hallstrom.

‘Sometimes they tell you, “No, I’m not depressed” and they smile. But it’s a sad smile.’

To the outside world, they give no hint of their problem often holding down a full-time job, running a family home and enjoying an active social life. But underneath they are suffering secret panic attacks, insomnia, crushing low self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts.

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