This woman is showing some high functioning depression symptoms

Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

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For some people, depression is debilitating. For others, the disorder significantly diminishes their quality of life, but it doesn’t prevent them from going to work, attending school, and otherwise living what can appear to be a full and productive life. People in this second category are often referred to as having high-functioning depression symptoms.

What is High-Functioning Depression?

High-functioning depression is an informal term that can be applied to people who have a depressive disorder, but who are capable of either hiding or compensating for their symptoms in a manner that prevents other people from realizing what they are going through.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the standard reference book for clinicians in the United States, does not contain an entry for high-functioning depression. However, this is a widely recognized concern that can have a powerful negative impact on the substance and quality of a person’s life.

What are the Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression? 

College student struggling with high-functioning depression symptomsThe absence of high-functioning depression from the DSM-5 means that the American Psychiatric Association has not established definitive criteria for this disorder. But the following are examples of generally accepted high-functioning depression symptoms:

  • Meeting the DSM-5 criteria for persistent depressive disorder or another type of depression. This can include struggling with physical and emotional fatigue, poor self-confidence, pervasive sadness, problems with focus and concentration, and thoughts of death and dying. As we will elaborate upon in the rest of this section, the primary difference between “regular” depression signs and high-functioning depression symptoms is the ability of the individual to camouflage their symptoms and get through the day.
  • Frequently struggling with fatigue or exhaustion, little to no motivation, and low mood. Someone with high-functioning depression may have to “psych themselves up” just to get out of bed in the morning. Seemingly routine behaviors, such as interacting with peers or colleagues, giving a presentation, or participating in a meeting. can be exhausting for them.
  • Feeling dissatisfied with their performance at work or in school, even if they have been producing quality results and even been recognized for their efforts. A person doesn’t need to be an academic superstar or a highly successful businessperson in order to have high-functioning depression, but they will likely have achieved at least a modicum of success (and yet they will be unlikely to feel fulfilled or satisfied by what they have accomplished).
  • Needing to force themselves to take part in social activities such as after-work gatherings with colleagues, holiday parties, or similar events. As with their performance in school or at work, someone with high-functioning depression may not display outward signs of awkwardness or discomfort when attending such events, but inside they will struggle to maintain what they believe to be an appropriate level of enthusiasm and engagement.
  • Believing that they are a fraud, or that they are unworthy of the successes they have achieved or the compliments they have received. No matter how long they have been with an organization or how well they have consistently performed, they may perpetually be in fear of being “discovered” as a substandard employee and summarily dismissed from their job.
  • Being afraid to talk about what they have been going through, either with a loved one or with a mental health professional. This high-functioning depression symptom could mean that the individual believes that they are beyond being helped. It may also be tied up with their fear of being discovered for who they truly are, which they believe would cause them to be rejected by friends as well as current or future employers.
  • Working long hours, taking on extra projects, and otherwise overextending themselves at work. This may be an attempt to compensate for what they believe are their personal shortcomings. It can also be an effort to distract themselves from their mental health struggles by overwhelming themselves with work. Or, in the case of working long hours, it could be due to the fact that depression can make it difficult to focus, concentrate, and make decisions – so the person needs to put in extra hours to complete tasks that they should be able to wrap up much sooner.

Do I Have High-Functioning Depression Test

The best way to determine if you have been impacted by high-functioning depression symptoms or affected by any other mental health concern is to be assessed by a qualified healthcare provider. The professional who conducts your assessment can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

To help you decide if you should make an appointment for an assessment, ask yourself the following eight questions:

  1. Do you feel like you never have enough energy, no matter how much sleep you get?
  2. Do fluctuations in your mood have a powerful influence on your appetite and your sleep patterns?
  3. Do you have trouble accepting compliments or praise without making self-deprecating remarks or deflecting attention to someone else?
  4. Do you believe that you have to work harder and put in more hours than your colleagues to justify your salary or your role within the organization?
  5. Do you fear that you would be rejected or abandoned by friends or colleagues if they discovered “the real you”?
  6. Do you feel as though you have to put on an act or play a role when you are at work, in school, or in social situations?
  7. Has your demeanor prompted close friends or family members to worry that something is wrong? 
  8. Do you ever wish that you had never been born, or that you could simply disappear?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions could indicate that you are struggling with some type of mental health concern. If you answered yes to several or all of them, this might meant that you have developed high-functioning depression symptoms. In either case, scheduling an assessment may be a good next step.

How to Treat High-Functioning Depression

Mental health treatment center for depression near Los Angeles, CaliforniaTreatment for high-functioning depression often involves medication and therapy.

Medication may be able to relieve some high-functioning depression symptoms. Therapy can help you manage your remaining symptoms. Therapy can also help you replace self-defeating thought and behavior patterns with healthier ways of viewing the world and interacting with others.

Depending on factors such as your age and gender, the severity of your high-functioning depression symptoms, and if you have any co-occurring mental health concerns, you may benefit from one or more of the following programs:

Contact Montare About Our Treatment for High-Functioning Depression

Montare Behavioral Health offers comprehensive, personalized treatment for high-functioning depression at several convenient locations throughout the Los Angeles, California, area. 

At our treatment centers, you will have the opportunity to work in close collaboration with a team of dedicated caregivers. We can help you understand the full impact that high-functioning depression has had on your life, then provide the customized services that will help you manage your symptoms and achieve improved health.

To learn more or to schedule an assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.