If you have been feeling depressed lately, you are not alone. According to the latest data, about 14.8 billion Americans have had at least one depressive episode within one year.
Depression is often associated with looking unkempt, being unable to get out of bed, and being inconsolably melancholy. While that may be true for some people, this isn’t always the case.
The symptoms of high functioning depression often look different from those of typical depression. If you are living with high functioning depression, chances are your closest friends and family may be able to tell.
If you find yourself feeling depressed, but you are still able to go through the motions of your everyday life, you may be living with high functioning depression. Because of its discreet nature, it can be easy to ignore the signs, but it’s important not to.
At New Method Wellness, your mental health is our priority. We believe in the power of experience and individualized care.
If you think you may be living with high functioning depression, read on to find out all about it and how you can seek help.
What Is High Functioning Depression?
To understand high functioning depression, you should also understand the definition of depression. So, what is depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a serious medical illness that adversely affects your life and how you function. It often leads to a loss of interest in activities you once liked or a loss of interest in social activity.
The main symptom of depression is feeling sad. Other depression symptoms may include loss of appetite, overeating, feeling tired, feeling worthless, having difficulty concentrating or making choices, and having suicidal thoughts.
It is a common misconception that most people feel depressed because they have experienced a terrible loss or tragedy.
While that may be true in some cases, depression can occur even when there is no apparent cause. It can often result from a chemical or biological imbalance that affects your mood regulation.
This form of depression can also be referred to as major depressive disorder.
For a medical diagnosis of depression, symptoms must last at least more than two weeks, and there must be a discernible difference in your level of functioning from before your depression started.
High functioning depression is when you feel those same feelings of sadness or being depressed, but you are able to continue with your life and even set and accomplish goals.
Many medical experts agree that high functioning depression is another term for persistent depressive disorder. This means that the same symptoms of depression may be less severe, but they last for an interminably long period of time.
If you suffer from high functioning depression, chances are you suffer in silence. The people closest to you probably can’t tell or notice a difference in your mood or work performance. This does not mean your depression is invalid or should be ignored.
The Symptoms of High Functioning Depression
High-functioning depression is sometimes hard to detect. The signs of it are not as overtly clear as they are with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Major Depressive Disorder may look like having no interest in getting ready for the day or “letting yourself go.” You may look tired often or be quieter than usual.
In comparison, the signs of high functioning depression are more internalized and hard to notice, especially on the outside. You might even have trouble detecting it in yourself.
You may experience varying degrees of severity with your depression. Symptoms may include having a depressed mood, an increase or decrease in appetite, feeling less energetic, having self-esteem issues, and feeling hopeless or even suicidal.
These symptoms will usually negatively affect or impair at least one area of your life, even if you are high functioning.
These symptoms must occur on most days for at least two years to be diagnosed by a doctor as high functioning or persistent depressive disorder.
It’s important to note that sometimes depression can be mistaken for other medical or mental health conditions, so it’s best to check with your doctor. It’s also important to note that substance abuse can affect your diagnosis.
You likely will still get ready for the day, complete your work tasks, and meet up with friends and family to socialize. You may be the only one who notices that you feel sad or “off.” It’s important to pay attention to your fluctuating mood if you suspect you have depression.
It is important to note that just because you are able to function through your depression does not mean that you should not seek treatment. It does not invalidate your depression or make it less serious than other forms of depression.
What Does It Feel Like?
Depression is often such a heavy, noticeable feeling that it’s clear when you are living with it. With high functioning depression, it may feel similar but not as drastic every day or every part of the day.
You may feel a little bit down or melancholic most of the day. You may not be hysterical or crying, but you do notice that your mood is low or that you are feeling cynical or hopeless. You might cry on occasion and for no apparent reason sometimes.
You might feel like you have low energy or have to try harder to push through your tasks. You may also have to talk yourself into attending social events you would normally be excited about. It may be hard to converse with friends like normal.
While you’re able to take care of necessary work or life tasks, it might feel harder to concentrate. It may even feel like you need Herculean effort to complete tasks. Your extracurricular life or hobbies may suffer because you don’t have the energy for them.
On the outside, it may appear like you’re doing “just fine.” Coworkers or friends might not notice a difference in your moods even though you’re struggling to get through the day.
For these reasons, living with high functioning depression can feel very isolating. You may even be told that you don’t have depression by others who don’t understand your condition or how depression works.
You may be told to “get over it” or that you “seem to be doing just fine” because to the outside world, it looks like your depression doesn’t have an impact on your life. This does not mean that you don’t deserve to seek a treatment plan that works for you.
If you aren’t sure if what you are feeling could be classified as Depression, take our Depression self-test to see if you might meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis.
Forms of Depression Treatment
Depression treatment can take many forms. What works for one person may not work for another. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, and there may not be a definitive “cure.”
At New Method Wellness, we believe that you and your depression are unique and should be treated as such. That’s why we encourage our patients to explore different types of treatment.
Therapy can be one-on-one sessions if that’s what you prefer. You can also take part in group therapy if you want to benefit from a level of camaraderie with others.
A therapist can help you figure out how to manage your high functioning depression. You will learn tools to help you get through your days and how to positively handle any curveballs life may throw at you.
It may take some time to find the treatment method and therapist that works best for you. Never be afraid to speak up about whether or not a method is working for you or if you would like to try a different therapist. After all, your mental health is the main priority here.
Keep in mind that there is no “normal” amount of time to be in therapy. You may feel like you’ve gained the knowledge you need to manage your depression after some time and want to step away from therapy, which is fine.
You may, however, find that therapy is something you feel you need your whole life, and that is equally fine. The main goal is to help yourself, no matter if it’s a process that takes a few months, years, or your whole life.
Find Treatment Today
Now that you know the symptoms of high functioning depression, you can look for the signs in yourself if you suspect you may have it.
If you have determined that you live with high functioning depression, the next step is to find a suitable treatment for yourself. Your life is worth taking the time to help yourself.
Consider letting the caring professionals at New Method Wellness help you on your health journey. Read our testimonials and see for yourself how we have impacted other people’s lives for the better.