couple contemplating how to tell is someone is faking depression

How do we Classify Depression?

Depression or “depressed” seem like normal words in today’s day and age. With the increase of awareness around mental health in general, it can also lead to an overgeneralization or over use of terms associated with it: depressed, anxious, bi-polar. These words have clinical meanings and criteria to meet in order to be considered a formal diagnosis. Accordingly, these criteria must be diagnosed by a licensed mental health or medical professional. 

Are they Faking?

But… how would someone with an untrained eye know if someone is faking depression or actually depressed? The answer is you won’t and quite frankly, it’s not up to us as outsiders to determine the legitimacy of someone else’s mental health struggles. Instead of spending time and effort trying to figure out how to tell if someone is faking depression, take a look at the three thoughts below. 

How Can I See this from Their Perception?

Each individual views thoughts, feelings, behaviors, situations and interactions from one’s own view point. This is made up of our past experiences or interactions, our expectations and our own fears. It’s important to remember that what may be “true” to you, may not always be the other person’s perception. Try to get in a habit of asking questions and gathering information. 

How Can I be Supportive Right Now?

Sometimes this is a question directly to the other person. If it is someone you care about or interact with daily maybe you ask then directly how you can be supportive. THEY feel depressed or lonely or worried or sad or hopeless- so ask how you can help. If they cannot tell you, ask yourself “what would I want if I was feeling this way?”

Are There any Boundaries I Need to Set?

Along with being supportive comes boundary setting. You want to make sure that you are also taking care of your needs. Maybe they need professional help for depression therapy. Maybe their issues are beyond what you can ultimately support. Sometimes “people pleasing” or sacrificing our own needs for another’s can compromise our own mental health. Take an inventory to be sure that what you are doing is not jeopardizing your own wellness. 

Support with Healthy Boundaries

Ideally, the best combination is healthy support with healthy boundaries. This means that you are providing support without compromising your health, thoughts, feelings or well being. How to tell if someone is faking depression does not matter- in their reality, they are depressed. Finding ways to support them, provide space for them to share and to connect through our human experience are ways we can help people in need.