What to Do If Someone Is Faking Depression at Work

May 26, 2021 Mahevash Shaikh

Do you have a strong feeling that one of your coworkers is faking depression at work? They always have a smile on their face and manage to meet deadlines. How could they be depressed in that case? If you feel this way about someone you know, read on.

Can Depression Be Faked? 

Yes, depression can be faked; however, the truth of the matter is that you cannot tell if someone is faking depression. Many of us (including me in the past) tend to assume that a depressed person appears visibly depressed, is unable to function, and is weak because they are unable to "snap out of it." In reality, there is no set standard for what a depressed person looks like. There are many kinds of depression, and this invisible illness impacts each person uniquely. 

For example, smiling depression is when a person seems to be happy on the outside but is depressed on the inside. Then there is high-functioning depression, where a person can accomplish personal and professional goals but feels as if their life is meaningless. Let's not forget about seasonal depression, which shows up due to the change in seasons. And then there's situational depression, which is caused by some difficult life event. As you can see, it's a long list, and this list is by no means exhaustive. 

What's more, being depressed does not mean you constantly feel blue. There are times when you can experience other moods like anger, joy, fear, etc. As a depressed human myself, there are moments when I am cheerful and humorous. Experiencing a range of emotions and moods does not make any depression any less valid. 

What You Can Do Instead of Judging 

When a person tells you they have depression, believe them. It does not make sense for a person to fake depression. Because even with increased conversations on mental health, there is still an immense stigma associated with mental health conditions. Please don't judge the validity of their statement. Don't demand proof. And most importantly, don't give unsolicited advice. Watch the video below to know what not to say to someone with depression. 

If you truly believe they are depression-free, give them the benefit of the doubt. It is highly likely that they have some underlying mental health condition. Tell them they shouldn't self-diagnose because it can be dangerous. Ask them to consult a licensed therapist. The therapist can then determine what exactly it is they are suffering from.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2021, May 26). What to Do If Someone Is Faking Depression at Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

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