In the last decade, a lot of famous personalities and celebrities have opened up about suffering from mental disorders, largely depression. This has caused the younger generation to accept and seek help more easily than before, which is good, but my question deals with the authenticity of such claims on social media.

A lot of teenagers choose social media to open up, and enjoy the sympathy it brings from a vast pool of people. But do they even suffer, in the first place? If they do, the obvious choice would be to seek help from doctors, then why social media? If there are people doing this just for sympathy and attention, is there a way to sort out them from genuine claims?

I know that mental disorders have always been there, the facilities available today makes more people come out for help than ever before, and that explains why the numbers are more than the last century. But can there be a chance of an overestimation? Can people fake symptoms of depression, for example?

(I apologize if this question offends anyone- I tried to make it as passive as I could. Edits to soften the phrasing of the question would be appreciated.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think this is a very important and interesting question to ask. I think we can be 100% sure that some people fake this, though for what motive it is hard to say. However, I don't think the mere act of posting about it on social media would be a reliable index of such behaviour. $\endgroup$
    – fffrost
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 15:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ yes ,the phenomenon is called sadfishing ,acting hurt or vulnerable to gather attention. dictionary.com/e/slang/sadfishing There are psychological assessments in order to ascertain if criminals are really mentally ill or just faking.( many try to do this to escape harsher punishments) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Yes,many celebrities have talked about mental illness they have ,or have recovered. Most common is depression,bulimia,anorexia,OCD and sometimes bipolar,PTSD. [Not shocking since showbiz is majorly concerned about perfection and beauty to the the narrow standards prevalent].

Sometimes these claims are met with skepticism and then there's a word for it: Sadfishing

The possible reasons could include, obviously is publicity and marketing.

Bad publicity is still publicity, and looking vulnerable and expressing such feelings helps other common people to sympathise, and the star studded life becomes more believable.

And the main point of concern ,regarding whether they are genuine or not, is the fact that the behave ,speak and go on in their lives in a perfectly healthy manner. People expect someone with such a complex list of problems to behave differently ,be "weird" in some way. But from personal experience,people who are suffering have shaped themselves to society's expectations to live up to "I'm fine".

This is also to lack of in depth knowledge of such mental illness or hyperbolic generalizations which most of us will hear or even say ourselves from time to time: "She's a psycho"

or "he cleans his room so much he must have OCD"

But ,we don't know them personally, and everyone has a set of behaviors when behave a kind of people- friends, teachers, parents which is slightly different from our true self.

As for checking if their claims are true ,we would have to look at their medical records etc ,which for obvious reasons is confidential.

Edit: As suggested by Chris Rogers I have added some information about insanity pleas

And here in Wikipedia ,is a short explanation of what conditions can pass an insanity plea.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While you haven't named any specific individual, the subject of sadfishing within the movie/tv/music industry can be a very emotive subject as there are some very real cases of anorexia or bulimia etc. out there currently and in the past. That subject area needs to be addressed very carefully. You also mentioned faining psychological problems as an excuse for criminal activity in the comments but haven't mentioned it here. Is that because you couldn't find supporting references to criminal assessments of psychological disorders? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 9:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers now I have edited my answer a bit, but frankly I haven't studied psychology as a curriculum subject, I am aspiring to become a psychiatrist though .I expanded my comment into an answer since AliceD had suggested it. So please feel free to edit to add more references from research papers or other sources. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 11:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.