What Does High-Functioning Depression Look Like?

The effects depression has on someone’s life can be long-lasting and far-reaching. High-functioning depression looks a little different. Those who suffer from high functioning depression (HFD) outwardly appear to be perfectly fine, while internally they are struggling. When it comes to HFD, the person could be hurting internally, but those around them may not be able to see them struggling. Understanding what high-functioning depression looks like is critical to receiving proper care.

What is High Functioning Depression?

Unlike what is commonly thought of as depression, high-functioning depression can be well hidden. When someone thinks of depression, they may think of sullen looks, isolation, lack of motivation, and lack of interest. While high-functioning depression is not a term used by clinicians in diagnosing depressive disorders, it is a term growing in popularity to describe when someone is struggling with symptoms of depressive disorders. However, outwardly they seem to be living a normal day-to-day life with little to no disruption. But what does high-functioning depression look like? How can someone identify it?

What Does High-Functioning Depression Look Like?

While high-functioning depression looks like a normal life, the internal struggle can be so severe that the person struggling with symptoms may not understand what is going on. Because they still go to work, participate in family and social events, and maintain a seemingly normal lifestyle, it can make it harder to take depression symptoms seriously. Depression symptoms can be visible to those who live with the person.

Those symptoms that can be visible include persistent feelings of sadness, feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, irritability or anxiousness, fatigue, excessive sleeping, loss of interest, and lacking focus. These are just a few of the symptoms, and everyone will exhibit and feel different symptoms that could be indicative of depressive disorders.

Effects of HFD

Because high-functioning depression looks like a normally functioning life on the outside, the effects that it can have can be extremely difficult to see or identify. The effects of HFD cause someone to feel like there is no reason to feel like they do or downplay the symptoms. This leads to these symptoms becoming so overwhelming to the point where the person may begin self-harming behaviors.

Moreover, potentially become at risk for suicide. Depressive disorders are chronic conditions. They need professional treatment and management in order to prevent symptoms from worsening. And therefore, leading to potentially devastating outcomes.

Effects on Family Life and Career

High-functioning depression looks like a normal life on the outside. However, the ever-present internal struggle with depression symptoms leads to changes in mood and irritability. These changes extend outwardly to friends, family members who love them, or into their workplace. These mood changes and phases of irritability can look like frustration and stress. Or they can be angry outbursts completely out of character for the person with high-functioning depression.

They may feel like because they can function normally through day-to-day life, the symptoms of depressive disorder shouldn’t be addressed, and they will pass. That is not the case. These symptoms should be taken seriously. Consequently, mood swings, lack of interest, and potential outbursts often lead to job loss and family dysfunction. 

Someone who comes from a family or culture where talking about mental health is taboo would be likely to hide the symptoms of depression that they may be experiencing. This further perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental health. Additionally, simultaneously puts them at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. There is also the unrealistic thought process that “pushing through” the feelings will just give them time to go away. Depression symptoms may alleviate for some time, but they will return.

Treatments For HFD

Once someone identifies what high-functioning depression looks like, they can receive the care that could potentially turn their life around for the better. Some ways of treating high-functioning depression include: 

  • Therapy: CBT and DBT are forms of psychotherapy that can be beneficial for working through feelings of shame and guilt associated with depression.
  • Medications: Using pharmaceutical antidepressants helps alleviate the symptoms so that the deeper issues can be addressed and worked through.
  • Support groups: Receiving support from others who are also going through the same symptoms and working through them together helps to know that it is possible to get through the hard times and emotions.

When struggling with high-functioning depression, it is imperative to not downplay the symptoms. Getting professional help is crucial to getting better.

Heal From High Functioning Depression

Struggling with high-functioning depression can be difficult. Being able to have a seemingly everyday life while struggling internally can be a devastating thing to endure. Ambrosia offers comprehensive care for those who need to heal. We have on-staff professionals to help our clients heal and gain control of their life back. Contact us to learn more about what high-functioning depression looks like.

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