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Depression is considered to be a very sensitive and one of the most common mental health

issues. Though it is not a thing to be proud of or brag about, some people might fake having or feeling depressed just in order to get things done or obtain something.

This condition is also given a term called Malingering. In this phenomena, the person starts to fabricate symptoms of a mental health condition eg depression in order to avoid any unfavourable situation he might be going through. For eg- faking a sickness in order to avoid work, school etc. It is difficult to pin point at some stating that they are malingering because symptoms of depression can easy to copy or replicate.

Another condition similar to malingering is called a factitious disorder. In this condition, a person fakes an illness but unlike malingering, there is no specific reason or motive behind it.

Though malingering is not considered as a clinical disorder, however it is mentioned in the DSM -5 that this condition must be given clinical attention.

Malingering basically arises of from the social and environmental situations. If often happens

when the person is looking to avoid a situation or is wanting to get something or some work done from someone.

Malingering is very common among criminal and legal settings. In a study, it was claimed that around 19 % of the criminals who claim to be sick were actually malingering.


If someone is concerned that they might actually are experiencing symptoms of depression, the first step should be to consult a certified medical or mental health professional.

During the evaluation and assessment, the doctor would inquire about how the person is feeling, behaving and acting to come to a proper conclusion as to whether the symptoms are real or the person is faking it.

Overall there are basically two reasons why people fake depression:

1. Malingering -

It is a condition wherein the person fakes the symptoms with a motive of escaping from a situation or getting something done from someone.

2. Factitious disorder -

It is a condition wherein person fakes illness with a motive to attaining some psychological benefits out of.

Malingering is very difficult to detect. We don not know who is acting fake or is seriously

experiencing the symptoms for real. Accusing someone as being fake becomes difficult. For this purpose, psychologists use a device called Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomology to detect whether someone is malingering or not.


It is important to first have a full knowledge about the actual mental condition of depression.

Depression cannot necessarily be identified through someone’s outer image. From the outside, the person might seem perfectly happy and content, but from the inside he might be going through an absolutely different feeling all together.

There are various signs that helps in making the detection of the condition easier:

1. Difficulty concentrating -

A very common symptom of depression is when the person starts to

find it difficult to concentrate. It cause disruptions in ones day to day life activities. They are

not able to concentrate on minute activities at work or home.

2. Elongated sadness -

Also stating as one of the most common factor, depression does not last for a single day. A person is actually called depressed when they are sad for a very long period

of time.

3. Negativity -

Negativity is surrounded everywhere when a person feels depressed. There is

negativity in their thoughts, beliefs, actions etc. They form a negative image of life in their


4. Irritability -

People feeling depressed form this irritable nature where they get irritated at even

the smallest thing. They start to find reasons to show how irritated of angry they are.

5. Disturbed sleep cycle -

The sleep cycle is affected the most. People tend to not able to sleep well at night and spend their entire day sleeping. For some it is different in a way that they sleep all day long both day and night. It depends person to person how people’s sleep gets affected.

6. Loss of appetite -

Loss of appetite is also a symptom wherein there is a change in a person’s

eating patterns. Some start to binge eat a lot and some completely stops eating.

7. Physical pains -

There are various physical pains that some people experience. Physical pains like pain in the back, shoulders, joints etc.

8. Suicidal thoughts -

Suicidal thoughts are also one of the most common symptom of depression. Continuing with the negative thought process, the person looses interest in life and starts to question their existence and purpose in life.

Just by assuming from the outside appearance of a person, it is not easy to come up to a

conclusion. Problems like depression are deeply rooted inside of the person and does not evoke in a single day and last for a single day. It takes time to fully come up on the surface and takes time to leave too.

Pretending for sure does not last for a very long time. The main reason behind pretending is

seeking attention or escaping from the situation. Once the motive is accomplished, the person stops to pretend. The real person actually experiencing it might be in an absolutely different situation.

The diagnosis is not done in a single meeting, interview or observation. The biggest sign to the problem of depression is that it is elongated over a period of time.

Faking depression to gain attention or avoid certain tasks or punishments is not considered as a mental illness. But there are chances of this being linked to a serious issue that might occur in the near future as suggested by DSM 5 that this situation must not be ignored and should be given clinical attention.

Before coming to a conclusion that someone is malingering, it is important to rule out all the

possible medical and mental health illness that might be related to the symptoms being ported by the person.

We are all in this together. You won’t know before you try. Making assumptions in your own head won’t serve you any good. If you find yourself struggling in any way emotionally, seeking help from a mental health professional can help a great deal in managing those emotions.

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