How Depression May Impact Functioning
To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression, an individual must experience social, occupational, or educational impairments.
This means that their low mood must somehow interfere with their daily lives.
But it doesnt mean that they wont still function well in some of those areas. Here are some examples of how an individual withfunctional depression might still experience impairments in one area of their lives or another:
- A woman shows up to work on time every day and performs her job well. She rarely engages in any social activities, however, because she doesnt feel like being around people.
- A man continues to enjoy a rich social life with friends in the evenings and on the weekends. Yet he struggles to get through the workday at times because hes depressed. Since he works from home, hes able to show up late or put off certain tasks without anyone knowing.
- A woman is a stay-at-home parent. She manages to take care of her parenting duties, but she feels lonely and depressed during the day. She quits taking college classes because she feels overwhelmed.
- A college student continues to take online classes and work toward his degree. But he quits his part-time job because he lacks the energy and motivation to work.
You Are Uncomfortable With Stability
People experiencing the given symptoms are uncomfortable with their own state of stability. Simply put, they are uncomfortable when things are too good.
When everything is perfect they usually expect something bad to occur, and it doesnt allow them to relax.
If you are always looking for reasons for things to go wrong, it ultimately can lead to self-sabotage your relationships, career and even your own life. If you always expect a bad outcome, take it as a sign.
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.
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Work On Shifting Your Mindset
When you have depression, hopelessness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. the more depressed you feel, the more hopeless you may become about potentially recovering, and the more hopeless you are, the more depressed you’ll feel. But you can break the cycle. Embracing hope that things can get better and feeling empowered that you can make a difference in your mental health can be “vital to help someone with high-functioning depression get better,” says Lombardo.
Of course, simply telling yourself to change your mindset probably won’t get you very far, but practicing shifting your thoughts over time think: gradually very well might. It may feel uncomfortable at first but will become more of a habit as you get used to it. While there are a variety of methods to “move toward” a better mindset, “one way is by reframing judgmental or ruminative thoughts as factual and nonjudgmental statements,” says Schwartz. “For example, you could reframe, ‘No one ever wants to spend time with me’ to ‘I haven’t spoken to any friends in four days.’ The more these reframes are practiced, the more second-nature they become.”
You Always Feel Worried Or Guilty
If you feel an inordinate sense of responsibility towards everything, can’t shake persistent worries, and frequently find yourself ruminating over past actions, you might be experiencing high functioning depression. The Mayo Clinic includes “feelings of guilt and worries over the past” in their list of symptoms if they’re dominating your mental space, consider talking to your GP.
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Seeing Is Believing: The Challenge Of An Invisible Illness
For people with high-functioning depression, the invisible illness aspect of the mental state can feel particularly searing. A few years ago, after shoulder surgery, my arm was in a sling. People fell over themselves to cluck with sympathy at my painsocially sanctioned pain. It felt good to be the object of so much caring.
But on the days when listening to the sorrows of others exacerbates my own and I feel spent, I typically stay silent, not wanting to advertise my own vulnerability. Why is it so much easier to let others in on pain when its physical?
It was difficult to begin this article, but writing it has helped free me from a shame-shackle: My name is Sherry and Ive suffered from depression pretty much my entire life. And Im okay with that. My mental struggles have made me a more insightful, caring person and a better therapist than I would have been with fewer cracks beneath my emotional veneer.
*Name and identifying details changed
Everyday Routines Feel Exhausting
Kati Morton, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author ofAre U Ok?, said only those with high-functioning depression know just how hard it is to get ready for the day or complete basic tasks.
People who arent depressed cannot understand how much energy it can take for us to get up, shower and get out the door, Morton said. Many people with high-functioning depression report that they feel exhausted by the time they even make it into work or to that event they said they would go to.
Reya Kost, the clinic director at Haven Hills Recovery, a trauma-informed recovery center for women in San Diego, California, said its difficult for people to comprehend how someone with a good job, great family and lots of friends could be unhappy.
When struggling with depression and maintaining a fully scheduled life, life is hard, exhausting, and rarely does it feel fulfilling, Kost said.
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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:
When To Seek Help
Depression is a medical condition that often requires medical treatment. If you have experienced prolonged and consistent sadness, emptiness, irritability, or have felt down for more than two weeks, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and be screened for depression.
Patients with depression can sometimes experience suicidal thoughts or behavior as a part of their mental illness.
If you are worried that you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room to seek medical help immediately.
You can start controlling your depression and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $19/month, get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits, through the K Health app. Start your free assessment here.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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You Cant Put Your Mind On Pause
Toavoid confronting the real problem, people with high functioning depressionkeep themselves as busy as possible.
Yourun from one meeting to another, eat on the go, and continue to work even whenyou get home. You would do anything to avoid those moments when you can hearyourself thinking.
Thereason why you dont want to stop is that youre afraid of the dark andunpleasant thoughts that might occur when you take some time off.
Youreafraid that if you put the spotlight on yourself, the things you might discoverwill only make you feel disappointed and discouraged.
You Have Trouble With Your Self
Problems with self-esteem are one of the symptoms of high functioning depression, according to Psychology Today.
A person living with this condition lives with a pattern of constant self-doubt, which is something the person feels like cant get over.
They doubt their choices , the way they live their life or even if they are worthy to live a life. Also, they are overly critical of themselves.
They think of themselves as a failure, their boss is an idiot, their partner most irritating person in the world, and life is just a toil.
This chronically negative thinking model can appear like something you simply cant turn off.
If you are too critical about yourself and your being, including life in general, having low self-esteem, you probably dont talk much on your self-image.
In that case, you should be aware that doing so could be the first move towards understanding your self-perception is skewed.
You would realize you are worth far more than your depression lets you to see. This would lead to being less judgmental, as well, and consequently, going through life much more relaxed.
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Overcoming Mental Health Stigma
Myths and misinformation about mental illness delayed Claires depression diagnosis until age 20. I had certain characteristics of depression as a teenager, such as irritability and crying jags, but my parents wouldnt take me for help. They figured, Oh, youre a girl. Youre just emotional.
Now, at age 26, Claire manages to hold down a high-stress job as a legal office manager for a multimillion-dollar law firm despite battling not only a depressive disorder but also type 1 diabetes and kidney disease.
She says, There are times when depression affects my productivity because its so intrusive. Im fine, until all of a sudden Im not. I try to stay on top of my meds as much as possible.
Therapy has helped her identify triggers such, as negative thought trains and lethargy, that signal a potential oncoming depressive episode.
Another major trigger is her physical health. I can run a million dollar law firm but I sometimes feel as if I cant make my body work, Claire sighs adding, I might be having back pain, kidney stones, and/or unstable blood sugar. Summer is especially difficult for Claire: When the weathers nice and everyone is outdoors enjoying physical activity or socializing and Im not well, I feel really left out.
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 certain steps people can take to deal with their high-functioning depression, such as:
- Take steps to get active: Though it may be difficult 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 simply 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 significantly improve a persons mental health.
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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Talk To Your Friends And Relatives About Depression
Whenit comes to mood disorders, social support is a key aspect of recovery.
In fact, a Harvard study that has been carried out for nearly 80 years has revealed that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships.
Yourfriends, relatives, colleagues, or coworkers can be a valuable source ofemotional support.
Butthe only way for them to lend an empathetic era or shoulder to cry on is if youfind the courage to open up about your struggle with depression.
To beperfectly honest, no everyone will understand what youre going through. Infact, you might even receive criticism and unsolicited advice.
However,some will resonate with your pain, understand your needs, and offer the kind ofsupport that allows you to overcome depression at your own pace.
Itsabout accepting your vulnerabilities and sharing the burden with another humanbeing.
Youdont have to face this alone. Talk to your friends and relatives aboutdepression.
What Exactly Is High
Although the phrases high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression have gained popularity in recent years, neither is a clinical diagnosis. If fact, the term is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , which is the manual that clinicians use to diagnose and explain mental health disorders to patients.
High-functioning is a colloquial term that can be misleading, says Baleska. I only use language that is in our DSM-5 to explain a diagnosis to patients so that they have a clear understanding of their mental health symptoms and so that the diagnosis is not misinterpreted by the patient, their family and/or friends.
High-functioning depression is an unofficial term that is used to reference a child, teen or adult who experiences bouts of depressive symptoms that either do not or only mildly interrupt their day-to-day life.
Persistent depressive disorder, which some may define as chronic depression, is a milder type of depression that develops more gradually and may last for two years or longer. This type of mood disorder may be labeled as high-functioning depression informally by communities because its symptoms do not always appear to impede day-to-day functioning.
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Risk Factors To Suffering From High Functioning Depression
Anyone can develop high-functioning depression, but some factors can increase the risk.
Here are some of the factors that put you at risk of having high functioning depression:
- Having a family history of depression
- Seeing yourself as inadequate
- High stress and trauma
- Co-occurring mental disorders
These symptoms may not be the signs of severe major depression, but yet the mood disorder steals your ability to be happy and live your life to the fullest.
High functioning depression may be as dangerous as major depression.
As you can see in the text above, people suffering from high functioning depression have extremely difficult times and struggle every day to live through.
They are very strict with themselves, so they dont allow anyone else to see how they truly feel.
People suffering from smiling depression can also have dark and suicidal thoughts, although nobody can tell according to their outside appearance.
Even worse, they could end their life committing suicide, to the huge surprise of their acquaintances.
So it is important to pay attention to your own condition, and on condition of your beloved, as well. You never know when you can save someones life.
Of course, this list cant diagnose you with high functioning depression, only a train medical profession can do that.
But hopefully, it gives you a better understanding of what you may be experiencing and makes you move accordingly.
You’re Having Trouble Falling Asleep
Again, sleep problems can crop up for a variety of reasons, such as drinking too much caffeine during the day, or not giving yourself adequate time to wind down after a busy day. But they can also be a symptom of depression.
“It’s common for people to either sleep too much or have difficulty with sleeping,” licensed psychologist Dr. Crystal I. Lee tells Bustle. “It may be that you’re up worrying, or it may be that it just feels impossible to sleep.” Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely something that you should talk to your doctor about.
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Recognizing The Signs And Symptoms Of High Functioning Depression
Generally, the symptoms of with functioning depression match those in other forms of depression. For one thing, they have a loss of interest in daily activities, which is one of the primary criteria for a depression diagnosis.
Other depression symptoms present in HFD include:
- Changes in eating and/or sleeping
- Desire to withdraw from social situations even if you force yourself to attend
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tired all of the time even if you sleep
If you know the symptoms of depression, then you know the symptoms of HFD. In HFD, they may not be as intense as in major depressive episode but they are persistent over a much longer period of time.
People with high functioning depression often try to self-medicate their depression. Therefore, you also want to look for signs of using substance abuse, alcohol misuse, or excessive gaming to cope as well as signs of workaholism and perfectionism.
Accepting Your Mental Health
The secret ingredient to Ellen feeling content, she says, is acceptance of her illness. When depression bites at her, Ellen is gentle with herself. I enjoy my fast-paced life and normally being busy helps combat the sadness, but when I need to I give myself permission to slow down, play with my daughter, take a day or two off from work
She explains, I can hide my depression so well that people around me have no idea what Im dealing with unless I clue them in. What I wish everyone realized is that allowing yourself to reach out for help is half the battle. The other half is continuing to help yourself because depression can always be there waiting to trick you with these awful, untrue thoughts like: Youre worthless, Youre no good, No one cares.
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