Unveiling the Signs of High-Functioning Depression
Unveiling the Signs of High-Functioning Depression

The Silent Struggle: Unveiling the Signs of High-Functioning Depression

In the age of social media, where lives appear picture-perfect, it’s easy to overlook the signs of high-functioning depression. Behind the seemingly happy facade, if you have high-functioning depression, you experience a constant battle within yourself. 

Affecting millions of people like you worldwide, high-functioning depression, also known as dysthymia, is challenging to identify. While it may not hinder you to the same degree as major depressive disorder, it can be just as debilitating and negatively impactful on your life.

That’s why it’s vital to be able to recognize the signs of high-functioning depression so you can take action to help yourself or your loved one get the help they need before it gets worse.

Depression Treatment in San Diego

What Makes High-Functioning Depression Different?

Unlike other types of depression, high-functioning depression may not be immediately apparent to those around you. You may continue to excel academically or professionally and continue your daily functioning, leading others to assume you are fine. 

Major depressive disorder, on the other hand, involves more severe symptoms that often interfere with daily functioning, making it easier to spot. (Although you can most certainly do your best to mask depression.) However, functional depression is just that – more functional. It typically allows you to maintain a certain level of functionality and successfully pass yourself off as being “fine.”

The Impact of High-Functioning Depression on Daily Life

Living with high-functioning depression can have a profoundly adverse impact on your life. Despite maintaining some semblance of “normalcy,” the daily internal turmoil you experience can take a toll on you. 

Some of the most common areas where functioning depression does damage include the following: 

Signs of High-Functioning Depression
  • In personal relationships: High-functioning depression can strain connections with friends, partners, and loved ones. You may struggle to express your emotions or open up about what you’re feeling. This is because you may feel like you don’t feel “sad enough” to have “real depression.” But the fact is, high-functioning depression is an actual mental health condition, and it needs real attention. 
  • In the workplace or academic setting: When you struggle with high-functioning depression, you may also deal with fighting a constant battle to meet expectations. You may push yourself to excel, fearing that any sign of inner turmoil will lead to judgment or criticism. The relentless pursuit of perfection can lead to burnout and further exacerbate your mental health condition. 
  • In yourself: One of the most critically damaging effects of functional depression is on your self-esteem and self-worth. You may constantly question your abilities and achievements and feel like you aren’t “good enough.” In turn, this can hinder your personal growth and limit opportunities for success.

Unfortunately, high-functioning depression is often misunderstood. Others may see you as “lazy” or “not trying enough.” That’s why you must take charge of your mental health and seek help from a mental health professional who can listen, validate, and understand your struggles and help you move through them to a more fulfilling life.

The Signs of High-Functioning Depression

As mentioned previously, high-functioning depression is a real mental health issue that can have severe consequences if left untreated. In medical terms, the diagnosis for high-functioning depression is “persistent depressive disorder” (PDD) and is also referred to as dysthymia.

While functional depression, or PDD, is a recognized mental health condition that requires a diagnosis by a mental health professional, there are things you can look for in yourself or your loved one that may indicate high-functioning depression. 

Some of the most common signs of high-functioning depression include:

  • decreased appetite or overeating
  • oversleeping or insomnia
  • lack of energy and fatigue
  • constant need for validation
  • low self-esteem
  • trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • feeling hopeless 
  • persistent feelings of sadness
  • substance abuse
  • headaches and stomach aches

If you’re familiar with what depression looks like, you’re probably thinking the above signs of high-functioning depression sound a lot like major depressive disorder (MDD). While you would be correct, the signs of high-functioning depression are less intense and, therefore, they seem more manageable. It’s important to understand that if you or someone you care about has functional depression, they are likely able to perform at work or school and maintain normal, healthy relationships. And while they may appear “fine,” it’s very likely every task they try to do takes tremendous effort. 

How to Manage High-Functioning Depression

Practice regular self-care

If you just don’t feel like yourself and believe you may have high-functioning depression or someone you know is struggling with functional depression, the most important thing to do is to seek professional help. To receive a diagnosis, you must meet specific criteria, but even if you don’t, feeling down and unable to fully enjoy life is something a mental health professional can address. On top of seeking depression treatment in San Diego or wherever you live, there are several strategies you can employ to manage your condition and improve your overall well-being. 

  1. Practice regular self-care: Prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises.
  1. Build a strong support network: Surround yourself with understanding and empathetic friends and family members who will provide you with validation and comfort. You can also join support groups and online communities that offer a safe space to share your experiences and connect with others going through similar struggles.
  1. Set realistic goals: It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have high-functioning depression. Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps and set realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate small achievements to maintain motivation.
  2. Limit stress: Identify sources of stress in your life and take steps to minimize or eliminate them. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises into your daily routine. 
  3. Engage in enjoyable activities: Ensure you make time for activities that bring you joy or a sense of fulfillment, whether it’s hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or exploring new interests. 
  4. Stay connected: It’s best to maintain social connections even when you don’t feel like it. Isolation can worsen functional depression, so reaching out to friends or participating in social activities can be beneficial. 

Our Experts at BOLD Health Can Help You Manage and Overcome High-Functioning Depression

Living with high-functioning depression can be challenging, especially when others don’t easily see your struggle. Partnering with experienced depression treatment experts like ours at BOLD Health can help you overcome your challenges and live a happier, more fulfilling life. 

At BOLD Health, we offer high-quality depression therapy in San Diego that is explicitly tailored to you. We take the time to get to know and understand you, inside and out, so we can treat you holistically. Your treatment plan will be curated, ensuring a more positive therapeutic outcome. 

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Your depression treatment in San Diego at BOLD Health may include any of the following: 

  • individual therapy
  • group therapy
  • medication management
  • intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego)
  • ketamine treatment

High-functioning depression is very treatable, so don’t wait any longer to partner with us at BOLD Health for high-quality, evidence-based depression therapy in San Diego.

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