Health & Wellness

Do I Have High-Functioning Depression? Signs And Treatment

12:51 PM

Do I Have High-Functioning Depression? Signs And Treatment

Do I Have High-Functioning Depression

I've not been diagnosed with depression, but I've experienced persistent sadness or emptiness, lost interest in everything, or withdrawn from others. 

So, do I have high-functioning depression? Because these are the signs that a person is suffering from it. 

High-functioning depression is a subtype of depression where you can still maintain your daily routine. Still, your mood and energy levels are affected. 

I'm too stubborn to succumb, but it could be difficult. 

I see how people struggle, so I read more about high-functioning depression, how to recognize the symptoms and learn some effective treatments to help.

Understanding High-Functioning Depression

This type of depression is often called dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder (PDD). It's a mental health condition that affects many, but it can be challenging to identify because the symptoms are not always obvious.

What is High-Functioning Depression?

High-functioning depression is a type of depressive disorder characterized by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness. 

Unlike major depressive disorder, high-functioning depression is low-level and chronic. 

This means that people with this condition may have symptoms for years without realizing they are experiencing depression.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), high-functioning depression is a subtype of PDD. 

However, it's important to note that PDD is not the same as major depressive disorder, although the symptoms may be similar.

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Signs of High-Functioning Depression

One of the reasons that high-functioning depression can be complex to identify is that people with this condition may not exhibit the classic signs of depression. 

Instead, they may appear to function normally, even though they struggle with persistent sadness and hopelessness.

Some of the signs of high-functioning depression include:

The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. 

Some people may experience only a few of these symptoms, while others may experience all of them. 

I recognize these symptoms. Sometimes, I experience them all at once; other times, just a few at a time. 

This video describes how I am pretty well.

Overcoming the Stigma of High-Functioning Depression

One of the biggest challenges of living with high-functioning depression is the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. 

Many people with depression feel embarrassed to seek help and may try to hide their symptoms from others.

In my case, I was raised in an environment that did not recognize how natural depression is until the past few years. As a result, people easily shrug off the condition; sadly, some would even make fun of it.

Thankfully, we're not putting a light on mental health. More people are aware that depression is a real and treatable condition. 

Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Mental health professionals can help you overcome depression and other mental health conditions. In addition, they can provide you with the support and guidance you need to live a fulfilling life.

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Causes of High-Functioning Depression

High-functioning depression can be hard to identify as the person may appear to be performing normally. However, several factors can contribute to the development of high-functioning depression.

1. Genetics and High-Functioning Depression

Genetics can play a role in developing high-functioning depression. If your family has a history of depression, you're more likely to develop the condition. 

In addition, research has shown that specific genes can increase the risk of depression, but it is not yet evident how these genes interact with environmental factors.

2. Trauma and High-Functioning Depression

Trauma is another factor that can contribute to the development of high-functioning depression.

Traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, or violence can affect mental health. 

People who have experienced trauma are more likely to develop depression, including high-functioning depression.

3. Substances and High-Functioning Depression

Substances such as alcohol and drugs can also contribute to developing high-functioning depression. 

While these substances may provide momentary alleviation from depression symptoms, they can ultimately make the condition worse. 

Substance use can also interfere with treatment and make it more taxing to manage depression.

4. Personality and High-Functioning Depression

Personality traits can also play a role in the development of high-functioning depression. For example, people who are perfectionists or have high anxiety levels may be more likely to develop the condition. 

In addition, introverts or people who tend to suppress their emotions (me!) may be more likely to experience high-functioning depression.

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Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

If you are experiencing high-functioning depression, you may not even realize you are depressed. You may feel like you are going through a rough patch or are always tired. 

However, if you struggle with the following symptoms, it may be a sign of high-functioning depression.

1. Depressed Mood

One of the most common symptoms of high-functioning depression is constant gloom or emptiness. You may feel like you are in a fog or just going through the motions of your day-to-day life. You may also feel hopeless or pessimistic about the future.

2. Low Self-Esteem

People with high-functioning depression may also struggle with feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You'll feel that you're not good enough or a burden to others. These feelings can be complicated if you try to maintain high productivity at work or in other areas of your life.

3. Irritability

High-functioning depression can also cause irritability or anxiety. You may feel like you are on edge all the time or easily frustrated by things that do not usually bother you. This can make it exhausting to maintain healthy relationships with others.

4. Energy and Appetite Changes

Another symptom of high-functioning depression is changes in energy levels and appetite. You may always feel tired or fatigued, even if you get enough sleep. Alternatively, you may struggle with insomnia or other sleep problems. You may also experience changes in appetite, either overeating or not feeling hungry at all.

5. Difficulty Concentrating and Making Decisions

High-functioning depression can also make it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. It will seem you have mental fog or cannot focus on tasks that used to be easy for you. This can make it hard to be productive at work or to enjoy hobbies and other activities.

6. Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems

Finally, high-functioning depression can also cause insomnia or other sleep problems. You may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. This can lead to even more feelings of fatigue and exhaustion during the day.

High-functioning depression can be just as severe as other forms of depression, and getting the help you need to feel better soon is essential.

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Diagnosis of High-Functioning Depression

If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing high-functioning depression, it is crucial to seek the help of a healthcare provider or mental health professional

Only a qualified professional can diagnose high-functioning depression, as it has similar symptoms to other mental health conditions.

Talk Therapy and Diagnosis

One of the most common ways to diagnose high-functioning depression is through talk therapy. 

A mental health professional will conduct a thorough evaluation, including asking about your symptoms, medical history, and any family history of mental illness. 

They may also ask you to complete a questionnaire to evaluate the severity of your symptoms.

During therapy sessions, you can discuss your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment

Your therapist will work with you to place negative thoughts or behaviors contributing to your depression. 

They may also teach you coping skills and strategies to manage your symptoms.

Medical Diagnosis of High-Functioning Depression

Sometimes, a healthcare provider may also use medical tests to diagnose high-functioning depression. 

They may perform a physical exam and blood tests to rule out any underlying health conditions causing your symptoms. They may also refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment.

There is no single test to diagnose high-functioning depression; finding the correct diagnosis and treatment plan may take time. 

However, seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional is the first step towards managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.

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Treatment for High-Functioning Depression

If you have been diagnosed with high-functioning depression, various treatment options are available. The two primary types of treatment are psychotherapy and medication.

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, involves talking to a mental health professional about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

This therapy can help you identify and change negative thought patterns, design coping strategies, and improve your mental health.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy that effectively treats depression. It focuses on revising negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depression. 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and mindfulness techniques can also help manage high-functioning depression.

2. Medication

Sometimes, medication may be required to manage the symptoms of high-functioning depression. These are the commonly prescribed medications for depression:

Traditional Medication

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) 

SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. 

TCAs and SNRIs work by increasing the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. They can be effective in treating depression, but they may also have more side effects than SSRIs.

Medication should always be prescribed and managed by a qualified healthcare professional. They can help you find the proper drug and dosage for your needs.

Exploring Alternative Approaches

Another approach that's gaining attention is cannabis edibles. They are produced in various forms and preparation methods by different brands. But can you buy edibles online legally?

The short answer is yes. Despite the complexities and legal scrutiny surrounding cannabis products, there are reputable online sources where you can purchase them. These products undergo rigorous testing, ensuring safety and accurate dosing information. You can check your state's laws and explore these options and discreetly and legally.

3. Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle changes can also help manage high-functioning depression. Examples of lifestyle changes that you can apply.

  • Exercise
  • Good nutrition
  • Self-care
  • Getting quality sleep
  • Interacting socially with people who you care about

You can manage your symptoms and improve your mental health with the right treatment plan.

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Living with High-Functioning Depression

Living with high-functioning depression can be grueling. Some days, even getting out of bed is too arduous for me. 

But it is possible to manage your symptoms and maintain a fulfilling life. 

Here are some tips that I can share to help you navigate life with high-functioning depression (based on personal experience and thorough research).

1. Keep a journal to identify and manage triggers

Identifying and managing triggers can help you prevent or minimize depressive episodes. Keep a journal to track your moods and identify patterns. Once you've placed your triggers, you can take steps to avoid or manage them. Some common triggers include:

  • Work-related stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Financial problems
  • Health issues
  • Trauma or abuse

It is necessary to manage your stress levels. Engage in activities that help you relax, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Exercise can also be an effective way to reduce stress levels.

2. Maintain Relationships

Depression can make maintaining relationships challenging but staying connected with your loved ones. Communicate openly with your family and friends about your condition and how they can support you. 

Consider joining a support group or seeking therapy to help you manage your symptoms. 

And a crucial lesson I've learned: Stay away from people who make your depression worse.

Whether by discounting or downplaying how you feel, making fun of your condition, or triggering your depression, it's best to distance yourself from toxic people

It doesn't matter if they are family or friends you've known all your life. It's not worth maintaining relationships with people who are not contributing to your well-being.

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3. Break the Stigma

Many people with depression feel ashamed or embarrassed about their condition. However, it is essential to remember that depression is a medical condition. It takes a lot of strength to seek treatment and ask for help. 

4. Seek help

Your healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan, including therapy, medication, or a combination. Remember that recovery is a process. And finding the right treatment plan for you may take time.

Living with high-functioning depression can be strenuous, but with the right tools and support, you can manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life.


It's OK not to be OK.

Navigating life while constantly feeling down is not easy. But I know that misery is optional. So, I still choose to be happy

That doesn't mean I don't recognize the feeling of emptiness or despondency when it rears its ugly head. 

I still count my blessings. I have a supportive and loving husband, family, and friends to turn to. I have books that can transport me to places in an instant and shows I look forward to watching. 

Although every day may not be good, there is always something good in every day. And yes, it's OK not to be OK.

Are you showing signs of high-functioning depression? How are you coping with it? 

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  1. This is such an important topic to bring to light! I think there are many misconceptions about depression in general, but certainly the nuances of different types.

    Le Stylo Rouge