How To Tell If Someone Is Faking Depression?

How to tell if someone is faking depression

Before beginning, let’s read some basics about faking depression aka malingering. 

Malingering is the term used to refer to the fabrication of symptoms related to depression in order to avoid work or obtain something precious or needful. Malingering is not easy to detect as many of the symptoms related to depression are easy to copy, especially when the person is completely aware of the situation. 

Fact: Malingering is not considered a psychiatric condition. 

Sometimes, people might correlate with factitious disorder and malingering. However, they both are different things. The factitious disorder includes faking symptoms of an illness meanwhile malingering includes faking symptoms of a mental health condition. 

Fact: DSM-5 has listed malingering as a condition that requires proper clinical attention. (If left unobserved or untreated, it may develop into a severe mental health condition). 

Signs and Symptoms of Malingering

Apparently, there is no specific set of signs or symptoms to describe malingering which is why it is difficult to detect malingering. People undergoing this condition may provide overly intense or inconsistent reasons related to their symptoms. 

Also Read: Ways To Deal with Depression

Causes of Malingering Or Faking Depression

Malingering is always caused by some situational factors, like the desire of getting a reward or avoiding something unpleasant. However, the causes of malingering are based on specific contexts like legal settings or criminal activities. Below mentioned are some common ways to check if the person is malingering or not.

7 Ways to Tell if Someone is Faking Depression

1. Creating Drama and Fuss All the Time

creating drama and fuss all the time

People with depression remain silent and are always smiling. Meanwhile, people who fake depression always create drama and fuss. They don’t even see if someone is around or not. The fact is that people who fake depression are behind something. All you have to find is the reason behind the depression. Maybe they are doing all this to get something out of it.

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2. Self-Harm

if your friend/family or your kid is into self-harm Then it is one of the traits of faking depression. They try to cut themselves, but if you will look properly at those cuts, those cuts are more like scratches. As mentioned above, they do all of this to get something, so find out the reason.

3. “Depression” Means Sympathy

Meaning of depression for people who fake depression means sympathy, attention, and compliments. They don’t even know the actual meaning of depression. For them, depression is two-words: attention and rewards.

4. Depressed about certain things only

depressed about certain things only

The most important fact about people who fake depression is that they are only depressed about certain things. They are happy half of the day and the other half they show that they are depressed.

5. Blame-Game

Beware of such people because their blame-game is too strong. If you will ask so many questions about their depression, they may start blaming you for their situation.

Meanwhile, people with actual depression choose not to speak, revert, and remain silent. On the other hand, people faking depression may start blaming everything on you. In order to help your loved one with this, introduce self-care activities.

6. Passive-Aggressiveness

The most common thing to observe to know if someone is faking depression is to check the passive aggressiveness in them. People who want attention and compliments are the people who show passive-aggressiveness.

7. The Act of Helplessness

People who fake depression show that they are helpless in each and every situation. In such situations, I suggest introducing self-help in their lives so that they can get back on the right track.

Frequently Asked Questions Asked by Users:

1. Why do people fake depression? Is it for attention?

As discussed above the reason behind faking depression is an unfulfilled wish or desire. People generally fake depression to get attention or to fulfill any wish. Sometimes, faking depression for a long time becomes the personality of the person and they become so toxic after some time. We should all stay away from such toxic personalities.

2. How do you tell the difference between people with fake depression and real depression?

Generally, people who fake depression are only sad or depressed about certain things. They become sad for something and then suddenly become happy. On the other hand, people with real depression are either always smiling or sad (there is no in-between). This is how you can spot people with real depression. Moreover, you can also take help of any certified psychiatrist to get the proper treatment.

3. Am I faking depression? Like, I am very sad and I used to read about depression and mental illness so I know the symptoms, and I think that I am faking everything. How do I know if I am faking or not?

My only suggestion is to kindly observe all your symptoms if they are chronic and do not go away easily, book an appointment with a certified therapist. Additionally, knowing and reading everything about depression does not mean faking depression. Sometimes, even the happiest person on earth does not even know the reason behind the depression. Therefore, I suggest you get the proper help from a certified psychiatrist or a therapist.

4. I suspect my friend has depression but won’t admit it. What should I do?

First of all, try to communicate with him. As I have mentioned in most of my blogs that communication is the only key… he may speak the heart out. Furthermore, if your friend still does not talk it out, read all the symptoms of depression carefully, and book an appointment with a certified therapist so that he may get the right help. Remember, do not say anything that might hurt or alleviate the symptoms of depression.

5. How do psychologists identify which patients are faking their mental illness?

Psychologists are trained and certified mental health specialists. They know each and every inch about mental health issues. By just interviewing a person, they can tell about the mental health condition of the person. Although there are various tests that can also prove if the patient is faking depression or not, it depends on the situation and the personality the person carries.

6. Is it possible someone has depression and still smiling?

Yes, it is possible that someone is smiling and still has depression. Due to different personality traits, some people go into grief and sadness during depression. While some person chooses to smile so that the world and loved ones cannot know about their sadness (they might not want to hurt their loved ones). Meanwhile, smiling depression is not good for mental and physical health. Read more about Smiling Depression.

Small Message from the Author

Based on the facts, faking depression is always done to gain or avoid something. It is not always important that a person is faking depression. Therefore, before you judge someone based on their activities, Calm Sage strongly recommends checking with a certified mental health provider. It is always better to check with a registered professional instead of seeking advice from peers. 

To connect with a certified mental health provider, click here. 

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Disclaimer: As BetterHelp Affiliate, We may receive compensation from BetterHelp or other sources if you purchase products or services through the links provided on this page.

I hope this information helps to detect if someone is faking depression. For more such wellness-related content, follow Calm Sage on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

More Interesting Readings:

Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Depression

Why Is Depression More Common In Females? Unveiling The Facts!

Mantras To Wipe Out The Symptoms Of Depression

Top 7 That Foods That Can Cause Depression or Make it Worse

Why Some People Are More Prone To Depression Than Others


  1. someone

    my friend has fake depression, but he treats me as a great friend, should i forgive him or hate him?

  2. Dealing With Someone With Depression

    This seems like such a good idea, will have to take a look at it!

  3. James

    Never thought depression can be faked thanks for sharing this valuable information

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