High Functioning Depression: A Hidden Mental Issue

High-functioning depression is one of the hidden mental disorders that many people have but aren't even aware o

High Functioning Depression: A Hidden Mental Issue
High Functioning Depression: A Hidden Mental Issue
Allan Donsky
March 26, 2024
Health and Wellbeing

High Functioning Depression: A Hidden Mental Issue

High-functioning depression is one of the hidden mental disorders that many people have but aren't even aware of. Because of the seemingly absent mental health conditions associated with depression, clinical diagnosis can be difficult.

This form of mental illness may not affect social activities, but the quality of life of whoever has it will gradually decline.

In this post, we’ll identify and explain high-functioning depression along with its signs and how to handle it before it becomes a chronic depression.

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

High-functioning depression, sometimes known as persistent depressive disorder or (PDD), is a type of depression where the person would have the regular symptoms of depression without having severe life disruptions.

This is the primary difference between high-functioning depression and regular depression. A depressed person would suffer to accomplish daily tasks or functions at a high level of productivity.

Alternatively, people with high-functioning depression suffer in silence. They can still go to school or work, function, and meet their responsibilities like everybody else. However, they often feel sad, unmotivated, and hopeless.

What Are the Signs of High-Functioning Depression?

People with high-functioning depression try to hide all their symptoms. Their reasoning behind this is unclear. Some of them think there’s simply no time to mind those symptoms, while others may feel that they’re not worth being helped or noticed.

Because of that, the depressive symptoms can be quite subtle to be noticed unless you’re paying enough attention. Here’s what to look for to identify this form of depression:

  • Daily sad or depressed episodes, especially if the person thinks they’re not being watched by anybody at the time as the depressed mood appears when they think they're alone
  • Unusual changes in weight (whether by increase or decrease)
  • Some physical symptoms like aches and chronic pain
  • Occasional comments and feelings of hopelessness like “It’s all in vain anyway” or “It can always be worse”
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person used to previously enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt for the slightest of mistakes

What Are the Causes of High-Functioning Depression?

It’s hard to pinpoint the causes of mental health disorders since most of them are caused by more or less the same reasons. However, depression and high-functioning depression often result from the following issues:

  • The sensation of being stuck in an endless study/work loop, where effort is pointless regardless of how big it is
  • Social isolation or constant judgment by others
  • A childhood trauma or a stressful life event, whether it’s mental or physical (like bullying, abuse, or loss of a beloved someone)
  • Constant stress, especially when the person is unable to get financial stability
  • The presence of an unstable family, where parents or family members constantly fight

Tips to Handle High-Functioning Depression

Since mental diseases don’t have a marked physical aspect to them, people are often confused about whether they can be treated or not.

Some say that since we don’t understand what mental diseases are, we just categorize them according to the similarity of their symptoms. Others say that any mental disease can be treated by just changing the way you approach and think about life.

However, one thing that everybody agrees on is that fixing a problem starts by recognizing its existence. So we can start from there.

Identify the Problem

Many, if not all the causes of depression have happened to almost all of us. The difference comes from our responses to these causes. Some of us are able to easily dismiss them, while others tend to be hurt a bit deeper.

So, if you think that you have some of the symptoms mentioned above and that some of the causes are also present in your life, then you need to admit that you’re depressed first.

Once you identify the problem, only then you may start to treat it.

Break the Loop

Breaking the loop is changing the routine of your daily activities so you can add some engagement back to your life and give your mind something to look forward to.

While this can be difficult in the current crashing economy where everyone is doing their best to secure themselves financially, the smallest changes might still help.

Among the small manageable changes are changing your route to school/work, reaching out to people that you don’t often talk to, and acquiring a new habit/hobby to break the routine.

Improve Some Aspects of Your Life

Just like depression can arise from the combination of multiple small things, handling it can be gradually done by improving several small aspects of your life.

Among these changes can be your diet, your sleep patterns, and your physical activity. Improving those little by little will constantly give your brain some positive stimulation which can help improve your overall approach to life.

Cut Back on Consumables That Affect Your Mental State

Consumables like alcohol, and smoking can pause the negative effect on your brain for a while. They both provide instant gratification, but they merely handle the side effects of the problem, not the issue itself.

Further, consuming alcohol can damage your nerve cells, and smoking will undoubtedly damage your lungs.

You don’t have to omit those from your life completely if not possible, but if you can at least reduce them, your body will get better, and your mind will soon follow.

Drugs are also among the consumables that halt your mind’s suffering for a while. However, unlike smoking and alcohol, there’s no tolerance for substance abuse. It’s best to rid them from your life as soon as possible.

How to Get Help for High-Functioning Depression?

At one point, handling your own mental issues alone becomes difficult. That’s when getting some extra help and treatment options can make your life a lot better.

Don’t consider it a weakness or dependency. Mental issues should be handled with the same care as physical ones.

That being said, here’s what you can do:

Talk to a Qualified Mental Health Professional

Nobody is more qualified to handle mental issues than those who spent years of their life studying the signs and symptoms of various mental diseases.

If you go to a mental health professional by choice (as in not to fulfill the wish of somebody else) your chances of winning the battle against high-functioning depression will increase tenfold.

Join a Support Group

If you don’t want to feel like you’re fighting a battle alone, joining a support group can be a massive aid. You’ll connect to others who are in the same boat as you.

Have Some Family Members Aid You

It’s always okay to talk to some family members and friends and have them know that you need “occasional checkups” to help you get back on track.

Humans are social creatures, and everyone deserves some honest care from time to time.

The Verdict

High-functioning depression may be hard to diagnose and differentiate from other mental issues, but it’s there, and it should be acknowledged.

Despite being able to function on a high level, people with this kind of depression are a walking time bomb. They will crash at one point, and when they do, it won’t be pleasant.

If you or someone you know has some of the high-functioning depression signs, it’s important to address the problem as soon as you can.

High Functioning Depression: A Hidden Mental Issue

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