Signs and Symptoms of High-functioning Depression

Signs and Symptoms of High-functioning Depression

The symptoms of high-functioning depression can be very similar to the signs of major depression. However, high-functioning depression symptoms are typically less severe. The term “high-functioning” usually refers to a mental health condition where the sufferer experiences many of the same symptoms as a more severe condition, but they appear to function normally.

People with high-functioning depression may experience symptoms like the following:

• Fatigue
• Low self-esteem
• Hopelessness
• Eating less or more
• Sleeping less or more
• Difficulty concentrating

If you have high-functioning depression, you may experience these symptoms regularly as well as a low or depressed mood that persists for two or more years. You might function normally in daily life, but you likely have internal struggles that are very difficult.

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

It’s likely that you have heard of high-functioning autism or high-functioning alcoholism, but you may not have heard of high-functioning depression. It is a real thing, and it can have dire consequences if not diagnosed and treated. The clinical name for high-functioning depression is persistent depressive disorder or PDD. High-functioning depression is a mental illness, but it can be difficult to detect for people around the person who is suffering from it. In fact, it can be difficult for the sufferer to realize that they have it.

Many types of mental illness cause serious suffering for the person struggling with it. They often impair a person’s ability to go through daily life in a normal way. In fact, one of the key diagnostic criteria for various types of mental illness is a lack of function. It might not be considered a mental illness for clinical purposes if it doesn’t impair the person’s life in some way. However, there is such thing as a high-functioning mental condition. This means that the symptoms are usually less severe and generally allow the person to go about their daily life.

It’s important to remember that high-functioning doesn’t mean fully functioning. Someone with high-functioning depression is still impaired, but they are able to go to school, work, and deal with daily responsibilities in most cases.

Signs & Symptoms

High-functioning depression needs to be diagnosed by a professional in mental health. Certain specific criteria need to be met in order for a diagnosis of high-functioning depression to be made. Many of the same symptoms from major depression exist in a diagnosis of high-functioning depression. The very first set of criteria for high-functioning depression are that the person feels depressed on most days and for the majority of any given day. This daily depression should last for two or more years. The feeling of depression must also include two or more of the following symptoms:

• Reduced appetite or binge eating
• Insomnia or sleeping too long
• Fatigue and reduced energy
• Low self-esteem
• Feeling sad and hopeless
• Having a hard time concentrating and making decisions

Along with these symptoms, there are some other signs that need to be addressed before a diagnosis of high-functioning depression can be made. These signs include the following:

• The depressed mood with the aforementioned symptoms must be a daily occurrence most of the time for at least two years without any significant improvement for more than two months during that time.
• The person should not experience any period of euphoria, mania or another energetic mood. If they do, this is more an indication of bipolar disorder.
• The high-functioning depression symptoms can’t be explained by any other mental illness or addiction.
• The depressed mood should result in some manner of impairment as well as suffering and distress for the person experiencing them.
• A person with high-functioning depression might also meet the symptom criteria for major depression.

How Does It Feel To Have High-Functioning Depression?

As previously mentioned, it can be hard to diagnose yourself or a loved one with high-functioning depression. This is mainly because many high-functioning depression sufferers can hide it fairly well. However, it can be helpful to look at a description of how you might feel if you have high-functioning depression. Let’s take a look.

• Your mood is pretty low most of the time. People around you might call you gloomy or cynical.
• Your low mood typically persists throughout the day and every day during the week. Whenever you feel some manner of happiness, it never lasts very long.
• You feel tired a lot, even when you get plenty of sleep or more sleep than is typically recommended.
• You feel like you’re lazy, or people around you think of you as lazy, but you simply can’t find the energy to function above what’s required in your daily life.
• You feel like a failure or unworthy of anything, including happiness or success.
• You keep up with all your responsibilities, but it feels really hard, and some days you wonder if you can keep doing it.
• Your weight fluctuates due to accidentally eating too much or not eating enough.
• You feel hopeless a lot, and sometimes you cry without any real provocation.
• You generally do fine in work or school, but it feels like a huge challenge, and it’s hard for you to focus.
• You have to force yourself to be social, but you dread it and would prefer to withdraw and isolate.

High-functioning depression can cause other problems, such as substance abuse, relationship problems, chronic pain and sometimes it can trigger another mental illness.

High-Functioning Depression Puts You At Risk For Major Depression

If you have high-functioning depression, you are also at risk for an episode of major depression. You might feel that your persistent symptoms of mild depression can turn into severe depression without warning. The main differences between the two types of mental illness are duration and severity. Major depression episodes are at least two weeks long, but typically do not persist for months and years. Further, the symptoms are more severe. You might feel extreme guilt, be unable to function and even contemplate thoughts of suicide.

Treatment For High-Functioning Depression

High-functioning depression can be treated, just like other types of mental illness. The first step is to get a diagnosis. A dual diagnosis treatment center like New Method Wellness can assess you for high-functioning depression as well as any other mental health condition that you might have. Once you get a diagnosis for high-functioning depression, you can begin treatment through therapy and medication. Common treatments for high-functioning depression include the following:

• Antidepressants
• Cognitive-behavioral therapy
• Residential treatment
• Group and individual therapy

If you or a loved one are experiencing mental illness symptoms like high-functioning depression, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Get in touch with New Method Wellness today to find out more about our depression and addiction treatment programs.

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