What are the dangers of masking depression with overactivity?

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Dr. Lara Honos-Webb, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Because overactivity is so highly valued in our culture, it is often rewarded. The rewards of workaholism are obvious. The more you work, the more income you may earn or the more praise you may receive. The more rewards you accumulate from compulsive overactivity, the more difficult it becomes for you to make any contact with your underlying depression, and the farther you get from your real values and interests. People who have a masked depression often have only superficial relationships and no real intimacy in their lives.

Unfortunately, the compulsive overactivity mask covering the depression is also brittle. At the first sign of cracking, the person's whole psychological structure is at risk of collapsing. For example, a person who masks a depression by working too much may be thrown into a profound depression or have suicidal impulses when she has a professional failure. Those feelings were there all the time, lurking beneath the brittle surface. By facing those hidden feelings directly you begin to gain control of your life, rather than being driven by a desperate need to hide them.

Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life

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Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life

A New Way of Thinking About DepressionWhat does it really mean to be depressed? You know depression as a collection of symptoms—fatigue, listlessness, feelings of worthlessness—and the source of...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.