‘Duck Syndrome’: Signs, Impact And How-To Help

Last Update on July 30, 2022 : Published on June 6, 2022

We all face challenges in our daily lives, but how often do we really admit that we are facing challenges? Can you agree with me when I say that many if not all of us, present a facade to others of having our life together when inside we are an absolute wreck?

If yes, then you might be experiencing “Duck Syndrome”.

Duck syndrome is when you deliberately filter out your challenging experiences to present a happy life. Whether you do this online through social media or in real-life interactions, duck syndrome is when you avoid letting others know how you’re really faring.

Trust me, you (like many others, including myself) don’t have it all together. And if you believe that your friends’ life on social media is perfect and everyone has their life in control, well, you’re wrong.

Here, let’s take a look at what duck syndrome is, the symptoms, the impact of social media on our mental health, and how you can manage duck syndrome.

What Is Duck Syndrome?

Duck syndrome is when you create an illusion of perfection – for example, you portray a perfect life on social media – but in reality, you’re struggling to keep it all together and complete little tasks.

This term, “Duck Syndrome” was first coined at Stanford University and while it is not an official mental health diagnosis, it can have severe mental health effects.

This term comes from, well, ducks. The idea behind this terminology is to associate one’s life with ducks that paddle hard under the water but on the surface, glide smoothly.

If you are experiencing duck syndrome then you may also struggle with the fear of what others will think of you if they find out about the challenges and struggles of your life and that you don’t have everything under control.

Signs And Symptoms of Duck Syndrome


If you’re wondering if you have duck syndrome or not, you can look at these symptoms. Keep in mind that the symptoms may vary from person to person.

Duck syndrome symptoms may include:

  • Comparing yourself with others
  • Feeling that others are better off than you
  • Feeling that you’re not able to keep up with your life’s challenges
  • You fear criticism
  • You feel that others are manipulating a situation just to see how you will fare

Many times, duck syndrome can be a trigger for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and more. If you’ve grown up in a household where success was measured as physical achievements or if you had overprotective parents or guardians then you’re more likely to experience duck syndrome.

How to Deal With Duck Syndrome


1. When You’re Experiencing Duck Syndrome

If you’re experiencing duck syndrome, then you can deal with it in the following ways:

A. Psychotherapy: A therapist or counselor can help guide you through the challenges and if you’re feeling out of control or feel that life’s demands are too overwhelming, then the right therapist can help.

B. Medications: While not a preferred treatment for dealing with duck syndrome, medications can help control the symptoms of anxiety and depression that come with duck syndrome. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help but please speak to your doctor before taking medications.

C. Self-Care: There are other ways to deal with duck syndrome and that can include:

2. When Your Loved One Is Experiencing Duck Syndrome

If you’re a parent, coworker, or a fellow student who’s looking for ways to help your loved one, then you can follow these ways:

A. Talk To Them: Understanding your loved one’s symptoms of depression or poor mental health can help. If you know that they’re finding it hard to cope, then you can encourage them to talk and open up to a professional.

B. Encourage Social Interactions: One of the unpleasant feelings that duck syndrome can raise in people is loneliness. Everyone struggles with hardships and to help them, you can encourage more social interactions. Encourage them to join local support groups, connect with others around them, and reach out to their social networks.

C. Boost Hobbies & Interests: Boosting your loved ones’ hobbies can also help them find an outlet for their stress and deal with duck syndrome. If you’re an educator or parent, then you can offer academic support and encourage them to participate in other activities on the campus.

Final Words:

Duck syndrome is often experienced by young adults and college students. Many times, duck syndrome can manifest because of the impact of social media on the lives of young adults.

Social media’s impact on mental health doesn’t just end at FOMO but can also promote negative experiences like inadequate life or appearance. If you see others’ lives on social media as perfect, it’s likely to make you feel insecure about your own.

What people, especially young adults, fail to understand is that the majority of social media posts are just fabricated versions of one’s life. No one likes to share their struggles and challenges on social media, even if they experience them.

This builds up feelings of envy and dissatisfaction when one scrolls through the social media of someone whose life seems perfect and put together.

Duck syndrome gives you the illusion that everything is put together when it’s not. This can alter one’s perception of life or what success is supposed to look like. If you feel that you’re experiencing duck syndrome, you can get help from a professional.

Start your therapy journey today

You are not the only person experiencing duck syndrome! If you need help, you can connect with mental health professionals or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-8255, if you’re in immediate mental health danger.

I hope this article helped you learn what duck syndrome is, its symptoms, and how to deal with duck syndrome. For more, you can connect with us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts on the same in the comments section below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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