What is High Functioning Depression?

People with less severe symptoms of depression can be described as having high functioning depression (HFD), which is not a clinical diagnosis but can help people better understand why a person can have a significant problem that does not debilitate them.   The term High Functioning is controversial, some people prefer the clinical term because they don’t want to lessen the severity of depression.  Their clinical diagnosis is often persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

People with high-functioning depression are often negative and pessimistic, sometimes even perfectionists. This masks their symptoms from others – including doctors – leading them to be written off as just being negative or having low self esteem. These people work really hard at everything they do (sometimes too hard) but still don’t feel good about themselves and their success.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder is a long-term (chronic) type of depression. You may not feel like doing your regular routine or just feel inadequate overall. Your school and work activities may be significantly affected as well as your relationships with others. Even on happy occasions, it may be difficult for you to be cheerful. You may be described as being a gloomy individual, always complaining, or unable to have a good time.  To tackle the symptoms of PDD, a mixture of counseling and drugs may be used. 

Symptoms of High Functioning Depression or PDD

Persistent depressive disorder symptoms can come and go for years and their intensity can vary over time. These symptoms may cause considerable impairment and include: 

  • Less interest in daily activities 
  • Feelings of Sadness or Hopelessness 
  • Fatigue or low energy 
  • Low self-esteem, self-criticism, or feeling incapable
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions 
  • Irritability 
  • Decreased productivity at work 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Avoidance of social activities 
  • Difficulty Sleeping

Causes of High Functioning Depression

Depression can result from several factors, including:

  • Your Genetics: Depression runs in families, and a relative with the condition may make you more vulnerable to it. 
  • Your Personality – Certain traits such as self criticism and lower self esteem can make you more vulnerable.
  • Events you Experience: A stressful or upsetting life event, such as the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job, can trigger depression. 
  • Your Brain Chemistry: Depression can be caused by changes in brain chemicals that regulate mood. 
  • Your Trauma: Injuries and stressful conditions can contribute to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
  • Your Medical Issues: If you have heart disease, diabetes, cancer,  or other serious illness, you may also be more susceptible to developing depression.
  • Drugs and Alcohol: People who are down on life often drink excessively or take drugs in an attempt to cope. This may lead to a cycle of depression. Cannabis may be used to relax, but there is evidence that it may also lead to depression in young people, in addition to its other effects. Alcohol is also not recommended for drowning your sorrows. The brain’s chemistry is altered by alcohol, which may increase the risk of depression. 

Substance Abuse and High Functioning Depression

Substance abuse can co-occur with any mental illness, including high-functioning depression. Someone with high-functioning depression may also have an addiction. Many people with high-functioning depression use substance abuse to cope with their condition. They may use substances or alcohol to alleviate their symptoms, but this will only make things worse. An addict must be treated for their addiction as well as their mental health issues.  Only treating one condition doesn’t work, both can reoccur.

What does HFD Feel Like?

A person with high-functioning depression may appear to be sad or low-energy, but they are able to function normally. You may be thinking, “I can do this. I will push myself to get through this day. People count on me, so I will do whatever it takes.” You may be high-functioning, even if you are sad or have lost interest in your normally enjoyable activities. It is not a distinct clinical diagnosis and may be a particular form of depression, for example PDD or a Major Depressive Episode. Depression does not discriminate. It is crucial to recognise that a wide range of people experience feelings of depression, including students, professionals, and everyone else.

Managing your High Functioning Depression

Depression can seem insurmountable  at times. Many people get trapped believing that nothing can really help them and that any fix is just short term. This counterproductive mental habit can keep you in the rut of doing nothing. 

People can treat their high-functioning depression using the following actions: 

  • Your Exercise: You should try for 30 minutes of exercise every day, even if it is difficult. Jogging, yoga, and even walking may be good examples. If you don’t feel able to do this initially, start with a shorter walk and slowly increase.
  • Your Diet:  It’s easy to forget about your diet, but you should eat healthy, well-balanced meals. 
  • Your Sleep: Get enough sleep, but don’t oversleep. You can boost your mental state by doing so. 
  • Your Wellbeing: Spend time in the sunshine: Sunshine has been found to be tremendously helpful for mental health. 

When to seek Help

It may seem as though these feelings will never leave you, but if you have any symptoms of chronic depression, seek medical advice. Seek assistance from your primary care physician or a mental health professional directly. If you’re not eager to see a mental health specialist, reach out to someone who may assist you in getting treatment, whether it’s a pal or relative, a teacher, a religious leader, or someone else you trust. If you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, call 911 immediately.

Depression Therapy Help in Lakewood CO & Longmont CO

If you are struggling with depression know that you are not alone. We’d like to help you with counseling so you can start to feel better and get back to your life.

We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with a therapy specialist.  You can learn more about our Depression Therapy services by clicking this link.

Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.