What is High Functioning Depression?
High functioning depression isn’t a DSM-5 mental health condition. Rather, it’s a relative term used to describe less-symptomatic cases of depressive disorders that aren’t noticed by others. The term has become a popular way to label people experiencing a type of depression that doesn’t fit the stereotypes of depression.
People with high functioning depression don’t outwardly express their symptoms. In fact, they might appear to be highly successful and even happy in their daily lives. However, they’re battling symptoms of depression internally, and often hiding it from themselves and others. In this article, we will explore the signs of high functioning depression and how to seek support.
Should I be worried?
People with symptoms of high functioning depression often ignore them because they don’t interfere with the essential parts of their life. However, high functioning depression can have negative impacts on someone’s goals, relationships, and overall quality of life. While you may be strong enough to survive, your ultimate goal should be to thrive. So, identifying and addressing the symptoms is important if you want to be your best self.
High Functioning Depression Symptoms
- Persistent sadness
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling frequently irritated or annoyed
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Sleeping far more or far less than you normally would
- Trouble with concentration
- Changes in appetite
- high amounts of self-doubt and criticism
- disinterest in social activities
The symptoms are often not noticeable to friends, family, and coworkers. This is because people with high functioning depression often go to great lengths to maintain a facade of normalcy, making it difficult for others to recognize their internal struggle. This behavior is sometimes called “smiling depression,” and it’s used as a coping mechanism.
Without a good way to deal with depression, people mask the effects in order to continue on with normal life. This emotional masking can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, and even cause mild forms of depression to develop into major depressive disorder. This can be very dangerous if left untreated.
How to Treat High Functioning Depression
Seek Professional Help
High functioning depression is an umbrella term used to describe someone’s symptoms, not an actual diagnosis. Therefore, it’s best to first consult a mental health professional. They’ll work with you to diagnose the issue, and then formulate a treatment plan to address your specific needs. They’ll also provide you with effective, personalized tools for combatting your depression. Therapists at WellQor use cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients better manage negative thoughts and coping behaviors to break cycles of depression.
While working with a professional is the quickest and most precise way to address your mental health needs, here are some well known lifestyle habits and strategies that are known to help remedy depression:
- Focus on healthy sleeping habits. Depression is related to brain health, and a consistent sleep schedule including 7-8 hours of sleep is important for a healthy brain.
- Exercise regularly. Research shows that physical activity can fight mental illnesses, and patients with depression, including high functioning depression, can benefit from regular exercise programs.
- Consume a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet. Would you put diesel in a gasoline car? Just like your car, your body and brain need the right fuel to function properly.
- Engage in social activity with friends and family members. Your friends and family can help you work through your feelings.
- Reduce outside sources of stress in your life. Numerous studies have shown a link between high levels of stress and poor health outcomes.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol or other drugs. Substance abuse can have negative consequences for your mental health.
The bottom line:
Living with high functioning depression can be a silent struggle, as individuals battling this condition often maintain an appearance of functionality while grappling with intense internal emotions. Understanding the symptoms is crucial in seeking help. By reaching out to mental health professionals, leading a healthier lifestyle, and relying on support networks, you can get the necessary support to find wellness and healing.
WellQor was founded to serve the counseling needs of adults across the country. Through our personalized care and collaborative approach, WellQor’s online therapists help their clients love themselves and live their best lives. Whether it’s depression, family conflict, anxiety, stress, or grief, our online therapists are specifically trained in, and sympathetic to, the issues you’re facing.
While there are many online therapists, we put our long-term personal relationships with clients at the heart of everything we do so each person feels the esteem and confidence that comes from feeling consistently loved, supported, and valued. Visit wellqor.com/online-therapy to learn more!