High-Functioning Depression: Five Signs To Watch Out For

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Admit it, when someone utters the word “depression,” the first thing that comes to mind is someone who doesn’t have the energy and willingness to do things, even getting out of bed.


High-functioning depression is breaking that stereotype of what melancholia actually looks like. Just because you’re not experiencing bouts of sadness or are not listless to go to work, doesn’t mean that you don’t have depression. You do, but you’re just too familiar with your condition that you have managed to hold it together, making people believe that you’re doing just fine.

Margaret R Rutherford Ph.D. says that “People with high-functioning depression are able to use the skill of compartmentalization, where you suppress your own personal feelings for the moment and instead, attend to the needs or expectations of the present.”

Five Telltale Signs


Technically, high-functioning depression is chronic, untreated depression. Probably the most challenging facet of identifying high-functioning depression is people’s lack of understanding because high-functioning depressed people blend in so perfectly.


How do you know if you have high-functioning depression?


  1. You’re Often Anxious Or Worried


While it’s so easy to equate unexplained sadness and constant lack of energy to depression, people tend to overlook one common emotion that is strongly connected with the condition, and that is anxiety or constant worrying. It is essential to point out that anxiety is not just limited to the idea of fear of the unknown because it can manifest in several different ways as depression does. Anxiety, more often than not, causes people to experience confusion, mental disturbance and restlessness, and that nagging feeling in your gut.


  1. You Abstain From Social Gatherings


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According to information published by the Harvard School of Public Health, high-functioning depression looks similar to a long-term, low-grade despondency that can persevere up to five years. And even though high-functioning depression does not make someone feel hopeless or devastated, it can severely dent that quality of living, diminishing your eagerness to work, go to school, attend social events, and curb your enthusiasm for family and relationships. “People with high-functioning depression still go to work and interact with people, but outside of work, they may stop hanging out with friends, and make excuses like ‘work’s been really stressful,’” says Dr. Jason Stamper.


Abstaining from social gatherings or declining invites is said to be one of the first prominent signs of high-functioning depression. People with the condition will still work, interact with co-workers and other people, but once they go outside of their workplaces, they’ll go on an excuse-spree to just avoid hanging out. Most individuals who have high-functioning depression are likely to be isolative that then translate into dissociative relationships.


  1. You Have Type A Personality And Is Successful


Affluent literates or those who are living the good, prosperous life are said to lean more towards high-functioning depression as compared to those who don’t have a high pay grade or living a luxurious lifestyle. Paradoxically, high-functioning depression affects educated people who have important jobs in their chosen field of interest. While they have the privilege of being well-educated and well-off, their careers become triggers for stress. It turns out, it’s better to be low-functioning if it means saving you from a lifetime of depression medications and therapy.


  1. Your Definition Of Sleep Is “Disturbed”


Just when you thought you could get that well-deserved slumber, you end up wide-eyed at 3 am, having an existential crisis, begging the heavens for a sweet reprieve. More so, you’ve noticed that when you’re at work, nodding off comes easily and light snoozing becomes a habit. But when that time of the day approaches when you really need the shut-eye, your system sends you a message: Error! Sleep not found. “Many people with depression also struggle with anxiety, which impacts quality of sleep as well, and the symptom of insomnia crosses over between the two,” says Rachel Dubrow.


It’s frustrating and debilitating to be sleep-deprived. Aside from not being refreshed the next day and to be a useful citizen of your community, having too little sleep can worsen your depressive symptoms.


  1. Vices And Addiction Are Comforting


If you’re the type of person who’d rather stay at home and indulge in activities like playing video games, binge-watching, or if you find yourself drinking alcoholic beverages more than usual, or worse, if you have attached yourself to recreational drugs, then you most likely have high-functioning depression. To cover up the loneliness, you turn to your vice or addiction as an emotional bolster.


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The disconcerting thing about wallowing in addictive substances and behaviors is that it, instead of just treating depression itself, may require you an additional layer of treatment and care. Substance and alcohol abuse further aggravates your condition, intensifying sleep deprivation, anxiety, and agitation that can directly affect your ability to cope.


High-functioning depression may be the less prominent sister of depression, but it is what most people in this generation are experiencing, especially those who belong to the working class. Just because you think that people who have high-functioning depression are doing well doesn’t mean that they are not slowly dying inside. Therefore, once you notice that you might have high-functioning depression, the best thing to do is get help and support.