A Guide to Spotting the Signs of High Functioning Depression in Yourself or Someone Else

High Functioning Depression

What Is High Functioning Depression? A Guide to Spotting the Signs

High functioning depression manifests itself in several ways. Read on to find out some of the symptoms of this mental illness, and better understand it.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 17.1 million adults (7.1%) in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. This figure makes it likely that you or someone you know may have or is suffering from depression. 

Are you or someone you know depressed?

Many people with high functioning depression are not easily identified since they can get through the workday and generally manage to do what is expected of them. A lot of the symptoms are “internal” but can be noticed if you’re looking for them.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for. 

What is High Functioning Depression?

When trying to differentiate major depression vs high functioning depression, look at the timing and consistencies of symptoms. With major depression, people can suffer up to two weeks and then be symptom-free for a period of time or for the rest of their life.

Although the episode may last a shorter period of time, it is usually much more severe. Major depression can result in severe impairments. Such as it can keep people from being able to get out of bed, eat, shower, or complete other daily tasks.

High functioning depression is also known as persistent depressive disorder (PDD). Previously doctors used the term dysthymia. It’s the “high functioning” and “persistent” that help differentiate it from major depression.

People with high functioning depression can have symptoms last for two years or longer, but they can usually manage to get through daily tasks. 

Signs of High Functioning Depression

The signs of high functioning depression can manifest itself in many different ways. While the list is long, a person doesn’t need to have all the symptoms to be diagnosed as depressed.

So if you or someone you know has any of the following symptoms, it is worth paying attention to it and seeking help:

  • Sleeping too much (and still feeling tired); constantly exhausted
  • Not sleeping enough (insomnia)
  • Have headaches, digestive problems, or other aches and pains that don’t have an obvious cause
  • Feeling sad, empty or hopeless
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Feeling irritable 
  • Excessively angry
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Concentration and decision-making problems
  • No longer enjoy daily activities, hobbies, entertainment, or other activities once enjoyed
  • Can’t let go of guilt over past actions
  • Worrying excessively about everything in the past and the present
  • Change in appetite (which may result in unplanned weight loss or gain)
  • Feeling worthless and incapable 

It can be hard to notice these symptoms in other people. You may notice a change in someone’s behavior, energy level, and moodiness. Try listening to how they describe how they feel and notice any negative self-talk. 

How to Try to Reduce Symptoms of Depression

If you or someone you know has been feeling depressed, there are a few things to do. First, of course, is to talk to your doctor to seek treatment.

Another thing to do is try being more social with family or friends who are supportive. This will help with the feelings of disconnect, loneliness, and isolation. 

Try to ease stress. This can be done in lots of ways so find a way that works for you. Consider exercise, meditation, use postive motivation, set realistic goals, or quit a bad habit. 

Consider Seeking Help Now

If the above indicates to you that either you or someone else you know is suffering from high functioning depression, consider seeking or suggesting help. Finding someone to talk to can help. 

For more helpful tips and resources, check out the “Mental Health” section of our website.

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