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  Appearances often take precedence, so, it’s not uncommon for individuals to conceal their internal struggles, even from those closest to them. One such hidden battle is Perfectly Hidden Depression (PHD). Perfectly Hidden Depression refers to the appearance of having it all together on the surface but silently struggling with emotional distress and inner turmoil. In this article, I will explain what PHD is, its signs, and constructive ways to cope with it.
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Understanding Perfectly Hidden Depression

Perfectly Hidden Depression is not a formal diagnosis but rather a term coined to describe a set of behaviours and thought patterns exhibited by individuals who mask their emotional pain. These individuals often present themselves as high-functioning, successful, and content, creating a facade that conceals their internal struggles. Unlike more overt expressions of depression, PHD can be challenging to recognize, both for the person experiencing it and those around them.

Signs of Perfectly Hidden Depression

  • Overachievement: People with PHD tend to overachieve in various aspects of life to prove their worthiness or distract themselves from their inner emotional turmoil.
  • Difficulty Expressing Vulnerability: Those with PHD may find it challenging to open up about their true emotions, fearing judgment or rejection.
  • Self-Reliance: Individuals with PHD often rely heavily on self-reliance, avoiding seeking support or appearing vulnerable to others.
  • Minimization of Pain: They downplay their struggles, adopting a ‘it’s not that bad’ attitude, which further conceals their true emotional state.
  • Perfectionism: A relentless pursuit of perfectionism serves as a shield against acknowledging and addressing their emotional pain.

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Dealing with Perfectly Hidden Depression

  • Self-Reflection: Encourage individuals with PHD tendencies to engage in introspection and acknowledge their true feelings without judgment.
  • Seeking Professional Help: A mental health professional can provide a safe space for individuals with PHD to explore and address their emotions.
  • Building a Support System: Encourage the development of a trusted support network where individuals feel comfortable expressing vulnerability.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises can help manage stress and improve emotional well-being.
  • Setting Realistic Expectations: Promote a shift from perfectionism to setting realistic expectations, fostering a more compassionate self-view.

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Final Thoughts

Perfectly Hidden Depression is a silent struggle that many individuals face, often hidden behind a mask of achievement and composure. Recognizing the signs and understanding how to cope with PHD is crucial for fostering mental well-being. By encouraging open conversations, seeking professional help, and fostering self-compassion, individuals can unmask their hidden pain and begin the journey towards healing.
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This article was first published on 29th February 2024 and updated on March 5th, 2024 at 9:59 am


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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