Dealing With High-Functioning Depression

Struggling to cope with your mental well-being despite functioning as usual? Find out how high-functioning depression could be affecting you.

Disclaimer: The information provided below was to the knowledge and research of the author’s personal capacity. If you’re suffering or may have any form of mental health, do consult a professional for any needed help.

Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of dread and sadness for no particular reason? You then proceed to consult our friendly search engine and Google ‘depression symptoms’. You end up seeing a whole list of things from low self-esteem to loss of motivation to sadness and the list goes on. Then it hits you and you start questioning yourself,

“Do I have depression?”

You try opening up to your parents only to get a response like “I don’t think you are. You’re carrying on with life full of energy, you’re doing what you’re supposed to do with ease. I don’t think you are. Perhaps you’re just stressed.”

Though you try to ignore your feelings and accept the fact you’re okay, deep down, you know something isn’t right.

Well, breaking news! You can function perfectly day-to-day and still be diagnosed with depression — more specifically high-functioning depression. Yes — there are different types of depression that many may experience.

Having personally battled this stigma within my own circle, I understand that it can be hard to digest the information. So I’m here to enlighten you about high-functioning depression.

Dealing With High-Functioning Depression

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

It’s often an invisible feeling of emotional pain normally experienced by high-achievers where depressive symptoms are there but not as extensive as clinical depression.

It’s vital to note that the term high-functioning depression isn’t recognised in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a clinical disorder as it’s often defined in different manners causing various interpretations across the mental health field. However, this doesn't mean that your struggles aren’t important.

How Is High-Functioning Depression Different from Traditionally Diagnosed Depression?

It’s actually no different as depression manifests itself through different ranges for different people. Although there’s a high contrast with major depressive disorder, high-functioning depression is also a type of chronic depression.

While gaining the energy to do things at a normal pace may seem like nothing for the people watching you, you know the struggle and effort you put in despite feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulder.

You may ask yourself, how do I know if I’m suffering from this and when should I seek professional help or obtain a diagnosis? Oftentimes a person with a possibility of high-functioning depression may have the following but not limited to;

Emotional changes 

  • You often feel a little down most of the time to the extent where others may notice and refer to you as gloomy, cynical, or a downer.

  • You feel bad about yourself, unworthy, and don’t deserve to be happy or to be liked.

  • You often experience the feeling of hopelessness or crying without knowing why.

  • You carry excessive worry or guilt over past or future decisions.

Physical changes

  • You’re almost always tired even if you’re getting enough, or too much, sleep.

  • You do everything you’re supposed to do, like going to school or keeping the house clean, but it always seems like you’d need to put in a mountain load of effort.

  • You’ve to force yourself to engage in social activities when you‘d rather stay home under your covers.

  • You’re unintentionally gaining or losing weight because you’ve no appetite or overeat without realising.

Though you may experience these symptoms, it’s crucial that you get a proper diagnosis from a mental health professional.

How Would a Type of Depression That Isn’t Recognised Affect a Person?

The implications of the absence of diagnosis on people can be heavy.

Many people would be left feeling invisible or lonely on their journey as they wouldn’t be professionally recognised as being depressed. This could potentially take a turn for the worst and could result in them going down a spiral of self-doubt and withdrawal from closed ones. 

Hence, it’s vital for high-functioning depression to be recognised as something as serious as other severe depressive episodes. At the same time, we can also play a part in making a change.

Dealing With High-Functioning Depression

Having opened up about my experience, even while writing this article, allowed me to feel heard. So, whether it’s a friend or family member coming to you in regards to their emotions, remember to hear them out with an open heart and open mind. 

In the meantime, you should never be afraid to seek help from professionals or people you trust. Getting the right help has pushed me along this long journey of accepting and going through my roller-coaster of emotions! So, always remember, your problems, feelings, and thoughts are just as important and you should never allow yourself or someone to minimise them.

Need professional care? You can reach out for help to mental health professionals and organisations or even Taylor’s Centre For Counseling Services.

Alvina Gerard is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Taylor's University. She is also a part of her very own passion project of spreading awareness and educating people about self-care and body positivity!