Friday, May 24, 2024

How To Help High Functioning Depression

Small Steps Big Impact

The 6 Signs of High Functioning Depression | Kati Morton

If a person feels sustained, intense, feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities, they may have clinical depression. People also refer to this condition as major depressive disorder.

However, there are small steps you can take to help you gain more agency in your life and improve your sense of well-being.

Read on to learn how to incorporate these strategies in a way that makes sense for you.

Everything Is Fine But Youre Still Distressed

Being high-functioning and depressed may look like being able to meet certain responsibilities, but youre in more distress than usual while doing it. Maybe its the sheer act of making breakfast, chewing, and having to commute or Zoom into work. Maybe its a monthly hangout that you have with friends. Whatever it is, what used to feel easy or routine now brings anguish or seems overwhelming. In fact, if other symptoms arent causing impairment or undesired changes in social, occupational, or other aspects of life, then distress is often present. That distress counts as any sort of mental pain associated with symptoms.

You Feel Like Youre Constantly Faking It

âWe hear a lot now about imposter syndrome, where people feel that they are just âfaking itâ and arenât as together as people think. Thereâs a form of this for those who deal with major depression and other forms of mental illness. You become quite adept at âplaying yourself,â acting the role of the self that people around you expect to see and experience.â

â Daniel, publicist, Maryland

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What Are High Functioning Depression Symptoms

Generally speaking, signs and symptoms of high-functioning depression are similar to those caused by major depression but less severe. They may include changes in eating and sleeping habits, low self-esteem, fatigue, hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating. Symptoms persist on a low hum for most days, causing a nearly constant reduced mood that lasts for two years or more. Because the depression symptoms are operating at such a low grade, most functioning depression sufferers function almost normally outwardly but struggle internally.

High-functioning depression is a recognized mental health condition that should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Like any diagnosis, there are certain criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that need to be met for a professional to make a call either way. The first criterion for high functioning depression is that an individual experiences a depressed mood most days and, for most of the day, a minimum period of two years. The depressed feelings must include two or more of these symptoms:

  • Lack of energy and fatigue

  • Lowered self-esteem

  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

  • Feeling sad and hopeless

In addition to these symptoms that cause a depressed mood most of the time, there are a few other criteria that have to be met to make a diagnosis of PDD:

How To Manage Depression

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The first step in managing a mental health disorder is to truly understand the illness. Understanding the symptoms and agreeing to treatment will help you or your loved one find the road to recovery. In order to manage high-functioning depression, a tailored treatment plan is necessary to address all unique symptoms an individual has. During treatment, you can take a break from everyday life, focus on healing and understanding the causes of your depression. To help your spouse keep their depression at bay encourage ongoing care and regular therapy after active treatment has stopped.

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Listen To Your Favorite Tunes

When you are feeling run down and unhappy, try listening to your favorite music. Research confirms that music has a way of uplifting us and bringing on positive emotions and memories.

Similarly, playing music is also uplifting, especially if you do it with other people who share the same joy. The social aspect of the activity provides you with some of the social support you need.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology concluded that listening to music can help to ease depression and increase positive mood. It can also help you to be more receptive to positivity from others.

Signs Of An Episode Of Major Depression

Anyone with PDD is also at risk of experiencing episodes of major depression. In fact, most people with PDD will have one such episode at least once in their lives. For some people with PDD it may feel as if the persistent, low-level depression may take a turn into severe depression at any time. While the two conditions are similar and may occur in the same person, there are some significant differences.

Two important differences are duration and severity. PDD persists over a long period of time, two years or more, while major depression occurs in episodes that are shorter-lived but still at least two weeks long. The symptoms are similar but more severe during an episode of major depression.

Also significant is the distinction between functioning. Someone with PDD functions at a typical level, but during an episode of major depression that functioning will slide. They may begin to perform more poorly at school or work, be unable to complete certain responsibilities, skip activities they normally participate in, become socially withdrawn, or even let self-care and personal hygiene slide.

Begin Your Recovery Journey.

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How To Find Out If You Have High

If you think you might be dealing with PDD, there are some things you can do.

To receive a PDD diagnosis, your doctor should rule out any physical reasons for your depression, since some medical conditions like thyroid disorders or low vitamin D can mimic symptoms of depression. So they might start with a physical exam and lab work.

If a physical reason has been ruled out, your doctor will probably ask you questions about your mental health, thoughts, and feelings.

Criteria for PDD are based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition . For a PDD diagnosis to apply, your symptoms need to be present for at least 2 years and not absent for more than 2 months.

Along with feelings of depression or irritability, you also need to have two or more of these other symptoms:

  • appetite changes or overeating
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • feeling hopeless

More than having these symptoms, they also need to affect a big part of your life to match a PDD diagnosis. Its also possible to meet the criteria for a PDD diagnosis and a major depressive diagnosis at the same time.

Everyones treatment plan will vary depending on their unique situation. But research continues to show that a combination of medication and therapy tends to be the most effective way to treat symptoms of depression.

A Critic To Yourself And Others

Signs Of High Functioning Depression You Shouldn’t Ignore | BetterHelp

You become very negatively critical of yourself and others under the influence of high functioning depression. You start feeling about yourself as not good enough.

A constant internal conflict persists. Your attitude towards others becomes brutally critical. You only spot their bad attributes and not appreciate their good ones.

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No I Cant Just Get Over It

Ive lived with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. When people learn of my struggles, Im often met with I never would have guessed that about you!

While these people often have good intentions and just might not know much about mental health disorders, what I hear in those moments is: But what could you be depressed about? or What could possibly be so bad about your life?

What people dont realize is that battling a mental health condition is often done internally and that those of us dealing with them spend plenty of time asking ourselves those same questions.

A misconception of depression is that you can just snap out of it or that something happened to cause you to feel depressed, says Kathryn Moore, PhD, a psychologist at Providence Saint Johns Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California.

When you are clinically depressed, you feel very sad or hopeless for no external reason. Depression can be more of a low-grade chronic unhappiness with life, or it can be intense feelings of hopelessness and negative thoughts about yourself and your life, she adds.

Mendez agrees, adding that a mistaken belief about depression is that its a state of mind that you can control by thinking positively. Not so, she says.

Mendez lists other damaging misconceptions about depression, including depression is the same thing as sadness and depression will go away on its own.

How To Manage High

In some cases, it may seem like depression is an insurmountable obstacle. Many people fall into the trap of believing that nothing can help them now or that any relief they get will be temporary. Sadly, this maladaptive thought pattern can keep you in the cycle of doing nothing.

There are specific steps people can take to deal with their high-functioning depression, such as:

  • Take steps to get active: Though it may be challenging to do so, its vital to get at least thirty minutes of physical activity every day. For instance, you may choose to go for a jog, do yoga, or even go for a walk. If this action doesnt seem feasible at first, try starting with a five or ten-minute walk at first and add a few more minutes each day.
  • Watch your diet: It can be tempting to ignore your diet but make sure you are eating healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Get some rest: Get enough rest each day, but be careful not to oversleep. Doing so can improve your mental well-being.
  • Step into the sun: Taking time to be outside in the sunlight has been shown to improve a persons mental health significantly.

If none of these strategies help, you may require a mental health treatment program, such as the one at Red Oak Recovery®.

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What Does Persistent Depressive Disorder Look Like

The best way to describe PDD is like having a dull or aching pain every day. The pain is not enough to prevent a mostly normal life compared to those around them, but it is enough to make those diagnosed with it feel like they could be doing or accomplishing so much more without the nagging sadness. But those diagnosed with PDD can also have flare-ups or bad days where the symptoms they are experiencing become more intense than normal just like those with major depressive disorder.

Trudging Through Thick Mud

Those suffering from PDD and high functioning depression describe managing their symptoms as trudging through thick mud. The mud slows them down and is a constant reminder of where they are at in life. It slows them down and prevents their full potential. It also inhibits them from living a fulfilling life due to the constant stress and anxiety from their symptoms.

If Youre Up For Exercise Consider A Walk Around The Block

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On days when you feel as if you cant get out of bed, exercise may seem like the last thing youd want to do. However, exercise and physical activity can help to lower symptoms of depression and boost energy levels.

future depressive episodes.

Even when you have the feeling that youre unable to or have very little energy, see if youd be willing to do the opposite of what your mood is telling you to do, such as curling up in bed. Instead, set a small goal for yourself, such as taking a walk around the block.

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Carly Snyder Md Reproductive And Perinatal Psychiatrist

People with high-functioning depression live with a constant feeling of sadness, but they remain able to function in life, to sleep and eat well, and from the outside, the person may appear healthy and happy.

While it’s not technically in the DSM, high-functioning depression “would likely fall under the heading of mild depression and/or PDD depending on how long someone has been symptomatic,” says Carly Snyder, M.D., a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist in New York City. PDD is characterized by chronic, low-level depression that’s not as severe but may be longer-lasting than major depressive disorder , according to the National Institue of Mental Health . To be diagnosed with PDD, you typically have to experience a combination of less intense depressive symptoms for two years or more.

MDD, on the other hand, “is more severe in its symptoms as well as its impairment in functioning,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., best-selling author of Get Out of the Red Zone: Transform Your Stress to Optimize True Success. “People with MDD often have trouble functioning, including participating at work or school, interacting socially, or taking care of themselves effectively they also experience severe depression more days than not over at least a two-week period.”

Symptoms And Diagnosis Of High

High-functioning depression, or PDD, is a recognized mental health condition that should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. There are certain criteria that describe the symptoms and that need to be met for a diagnosis to be made. They act like a high-functioning depression test and are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . Many of the symptoms are similar to those used to diagnose major depression but are generally less severe.

The first criterion for PDD is that an individual experiences a depressed mood most days and for most of the day, for a minimum period of two years. The depressed mood must include two or more of these symptoms:

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High Functioning Depression Symptoms And Treatment

High Functioning Depression is a term that gets thrown around a lot to describe a person that sometimes struggles with depression but seems to manage just fine most of the time.

Popular culture often lumps the mental health condition of depression into one category a person is either depressed or they are not.

However, there is actually a spectrum ranging from mild to major where it concerns the disorder, and some forms are related to the timing of specific events.

Though high functioning depression is not considered an actual clinical diagnosis, it is still nonetheless often discussed.

How We Do It

6 Ways To Cope With High Functioning Depression

Initial Consultation

The first step in joining one of our specialized treatment programs is the initial assessment, where we determine the combination of therapeutic interventions that would be most helpful.

Treatment plan

Our team works with patients and their families to develop a treatment plan tailored to their specific symptoms and psychological needs.


The MendCenter team meets with the patient and his or her family to assess progress and develop a plan for the next phase of treatment on a biweekly basis.

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What Happens When High

A dual diagnosis is when someone suffers from a mental health condition and an addiction. A high-functioning depression diagnosis can occur alongside any other mental illness, but its more likely to co-occur with addiction. People suffering from high-functioning depression may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their condition. The problem is that this only makes things worse in the long term.

A dual diagnosis requires treatment for both the addiction and the underlying mental health condition. Its essential to address both because they feed off each other. Without treating high-functioning depression, its more challenging to recover from the addiction. Likewise, treating the addiction without addressing the high-functioning depression can lead to a relapse.

The best way to treat a dual diagnosis is through a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both conditions simultaneously. At Red Oak Recovery®, we offer treatment for a wide array of substance use disorders, including:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Opioid addiction
  • Prescription drug addiction

Dual diagnosis treatment at our facility is designed to help you understand and manage your high-functioning depression. Our goal is to equip you with the tools you need to lead a happy and healthy life in recovery.

High Functioning Depression Test

Depression is common, well-understood, and above all, treatable. Finding the proper medication, therapy, and other management techniques can help you feel better, live longer, and enjoy a higher quality of life.

If you believe that you or someone you know is suffering from PDD or another type of depression, take our online assessment to see if medical treatment is the right option for you.

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Connection Between Depression And Substance Use Disorder

Depression, or other mental health disorders, are often present in people who also have a substance use disorder, this is called a co-occurring disorder. In 2014, among the over 20 million adults with a past year substance use disorder , 39% also had a mental illness in the past year.6

There probably isnt a cure, but there are ways to help to manage all forms of mental illness including high functioning depression. Psychotherapy, medically assisted treatment or a combination of the two may be the best treatment option.

Treating drug use disorder or alcohol use disorder alone will do little to help eliminate major depressive episodes. Finding a recovery facility, like Transformations Treatment Center, that specializes in treating co-occurring disorders is key to long-term recovery and relapse prevention.

Some People Feel They Shouldn’t Be Depressed

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They might also tell themselves they have no reason to be depressed. They may think that since they can still function, they should be happier. Or they may believe someone who has a job and a family shouldnt be depressed. These thoughts may prevent them from asking for help as well.

All types of depression can lead to an increased risk of suicide, including functional depression. Someone who has functional depression may experience increased thoughts about death, and they might consider ending their lives.

Other people could misunderstand high-functioning depression. They may think an individual who is withdrawing socially isnt interested in being friends. Or they might label an individuals struggle with motivation as laziness.

These misconceptions tend to create even bigger problems for someone who is already struggling with depression. They might increase their social isolation or cause them to try to overcompensate by acting as if theyre OK when theyre truly sinking further into depression.

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