To an outside observer, Amanda Leventhal, a college student at the University of Missouri, appears to have it all together. Perfect grades, a good group of friends, involvement in her campus choir group—she’s not someone many would characterize as “depressed.” And yet, she is. It wasn’t until Leventhal penned an essay on her secret struggle with anxiety and depression that her friends knew anything was even wrong.
Leventhal doesn’t identify with the mopey women in antidepressant ads. Her symptoms manifest themselves in other ways. “For me, it was irritability,” she explains. Landau says this is totally normal. “You might have a friend who is cranky all the time, or who people think of as a ‘bitch,’ but inwardly that person is really struggling. Other subtle signs to look for: ironic or morose jokes—if they are out of character—or often seeming out of it.