Depression is one of the most talked about mental health issues we are facing today, despite of this, there are still a lot of things we need to know about depression.
For instance, when we say depression, most people would think about someone who looks lonely and sad. Someone who is spending most of their days in the company of their bed. Someone who just cannot find the energy to do something. Well, in some cases, depression doesn’t always look like this.
Did you know that there are people with high-functioning depression? They are the kind of people who may look successful and productive on the outside. They are the people who seems to be handling life so well, when in fact their internal energy is spent, making them suffer from the inside.
Although, high-functioning depression is not an official mental health diagnosis, it is still a common term that can be seen on various health websites.
According to Dr. Johnny Williamson of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, highly-functioning depression may not be an official medical diagnosis, but it is understandable and applicable for people who do not exactly fit into the traditional diagnostic categories of depression.
High-functioning depression is like a chronic low-level depression, it could still last for 5 years in adults, and two years for teenagers as per Harvard School of Public Health.
This only means that although people with high-functioning depression can work, can smile, can be a productive citizen of the world, they are still experiencing problems they cannot put a finger on inside. The debilitating headaches, loneliness, negative thoughts, and hole-to-be-filled are what they face every time they are on their own.
However, since the suffering of the people with high-functioning depression cannot be seen physically, it is challenging to identify and help them.
Good thing that there are manifestations of depression which can be observed on people with high-functioning depression. Here’s the signs that could help in identifying them:
 Frequent self-criticism that leads to self-loathing
Mayo Clinic says that people with high-functioning depression often feels a sense of worthlessness every day. Unlike with perfectionists who gets disappointed at imperfections, those with high-functioning depression beats themselves to every thing that they do, say, or even think, each day.
They would play in their minds how their day went, and despite the things they have accomplished, what they only focuses on are things they could have done better. Making them feel dissatisifed about themselves.
Pay attention to the people around you, is there someone who constantly thinks that they are not good enough despite their achievements? Chances are they have depression.
 Constant anxiety and stress at work
It is normal to be stressed from work, what is not normal is for stress to become a motivating factor for a person to work. According to the American Psychological Association, those who constantly stress about work, even over the smallest of details, is a clear manifestation that they are not coping up with something else. Constant anxiety and agitation are symptoms of depression.
Do you know someone at work who is always fussing over the simplest thing? Why don’t you ask him what’s been bothering him? Chances are they are feeling stressed over a problem that is not really related to your work.
 Having vices such as alcoholism or substance abuse
A lot of people engage in smoking or drinking alcohol, but most of them know when their body had enough. Those with high-functioning depression does not know when to stop smoking or drinking or engaging in a vice, simply because it is how they cope up with their depression.
According to Dr. Stephanie Gamble of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York City, turning to vices is the worst way to cope up with depression.
People with high-functioning depression who have difficulty in accepting that they are depressed, increases their alcohom intake and other substance vices which in the long run, causes them to be demotivated from doing their interests. And although it is hard to process how someone who can perform alright at work could be an alcoholic or a substance abuser, it is sad reality that happens.
 Declining to do something or go somewhere
Those with high-functioning depression tend to say no to every invitation. “Want to attend our family reunion on friday?” the answer would be no. “Want to watch this cool movie later night?” the answer would be no, “Hang-out and buy a drink?” the answer would still be a resounding no.
According to Dr. Jason Stamper of Pikeville Kentucky, high-functioning depression only attend events which they feel they are accountable to attend to.
As per WebMd, one of the distinct symptoms of depression is a “loss of interest in hobbies and social activities.” If you have a friend who suddenly stopped hanging around with you, or someone who constantly rejects social invitations, chances are they are suffering from depression.
Though at first, it may not be alarming but over time, depression reduces the number of friends of those affected by it, and causes a distance between them-creating a gap that prevents the victim of depression from reaching out for help.
 Persistent illnesses that never gets cured
According to WebMd, people with high-functioning depression complains about constant headaches, back pain, muscle pain, and digestive problems. They also often complain about being tired, or having over fatigue. These are manifestations of their lack of sleep, or poor heating habits that are linked to depression.
Although these are low-level of physical illnesses, it is still alarming as poor eating habit and lack of sleep causes immunity problems, which make people with depression prone to get sick most of the time.
“From the outside I look like I have it all together, but the truth is I find everything exhausting. Getting up, eating breakfast, taking my kids to school ― all of it saps my energy. I walk around in a state of perpetual exhaustion.” ―Jennifer Hazen shares her perspective in having a high-functioning depression.
Just because the people around you seems to be doing a great job at holding their life altogether doesn’t mean nothing is wrong about them. They could be breaking and bleeding on the inside and you wouldn’t be able to tell. Unless, you pay attention to the warning signs mentioned above.
Julie Kenney Myett, shares what it means to have someone check on her, a person with high-functioning depression:
“You should text and check on me, even if I don’t or can’t text right back. The thoughts are very, very exhausting so just getting through the day needs to be enough sometimes.”
If you can see these manifestations of high-functioning depression on someone you know, be it a co-worker or a family member, do not think twice on expressing that you care about them. A simple text message asking them how they are doing could be the extra-mile they are looking for.
(Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion or diagnosis. If you’re dealing with any of these signs & symptoms or know someone who does, it’s important to always consult with your doctor or a specialist.)