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High Functioning Depression: What You Need to Know

Updated: May 3


Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there is no single definition of depression, it is generally characterised by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. There are many different types of depression, including major depression, persistent depressive disorder, and high functioning depression. In this article, I will explore high functioning depression and provide information on its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.


What is High Functioning Depression?

High functioning depression is a type of depression that can be difficult to diagnose because the person appears to be functioning normally on the surface. They may be able to maintain a job, relationships, and other aspects of their life, but underneath they are struggling with an overwhelming sense of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-worth. High functioning depression is also known as functional depression, dysthymia, or sub-syndromal depression.


High functioning depression is different from other types of depression because it is often not recognised by the person or those around them. People with high functioning depression are able to maintain a level of functioning, but they are often struggling to keep up with the demands of their life. It is important to note that high functioning depression is a very real mental health condition and should be taken seriously.


Symptoms of High Functioning Depression

High functioning depression can be difficult to recognise because the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of high functioning depression include:

It is important to note that these symptoms can vary in intensity and may not necessarily be present all the time.


Causes of High Functioning Depression

The exact cause of high functioning depression is not known, but there are several factors that may contribute to its development. These include:

  • Genetics: Depression can run in families, so it is possible that a person may be at an increased risk of developing high functioning depression if they have a family history of the condition.

  • Stressful life events: Stressful life events such as the death of a loved one, job loss, or other major life changes can trigger high functioning depression.

  • Substance abuse: Substance abuse can increase the risk of developing high functioning depression.

  • Brain chemistry: Abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain can also contribute to the development of high functioning depression.


Diagnosing High Functioning Depression

It can be difficult to diagnose high functioning depression because it is often not recognised by the person or those around them. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with high functioning depression, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help to diagnose the condition and provide an appropriate treatment plan.


In order to diagnose high functioning depression, a mental health professional will typically conduct a physical examination, review your medical history, and ask you questions about your symptoms. They may also use a variety of diagnostic tools such as questionnaires, interviews, and psychological tests.


Treatment Options for High Functioning Depression

Once a diagnosis of high functioning depression is made, there are a number of treatment options available. These include:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy can help to address the underlying causes of high functioning depression. It can also help to cope with the symptoms and improve overall functioning.

  • Medication: Antidepressants are often prescribed to help manage the symptoms of high functioning depression.

  • Support groups: Support groups can be a great way to connect with others who are struggling with similar issues.

  • Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can help to reduce the symptoms of high functioning depression.

It is important to note that treatment for high functioning depression should be tailored to the individual and their needs.


Coping Strategies for High Functioning Depression

In addition to professional treatment, there are a number of coping strategies that can help to manage the symptoms of high functioning depression. These include:

Connecting with others: Connecting with family and friends can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

  • Practicing self-care: Taking time to do things that you enjoy can help to reduce stress and improve your mood.

  • Exercising: Regular exercise can help to reduce stress and improve your mood.

  • Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet can help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

  • Practicing relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and yoga can help to reduce stress and improve your mood.

How to Support a Spouse With High Functioning Depression

If you are married to someone who is struggling with high functioning depression, it is important to be supportive and understanding. It is important to remember that your spouse is not to blame for their depression, and that it can often feel overwhelming and isolating. Here are a few ways to show your support:

  • Listen to them: Listen to your spouse without judgment and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings.

  • Offer to help: Offer to help with tasks such as housework, errands, and childcare.

  • Spend time together: Spend time together doing activities that you both enjoy.

  • Encourage treatment: Encourage your spouse to seek professional help if needed.

  • Take care of yourself: Make sure to take care of yourself and make time for self-care.

Resources for High Functioning Depression

If you or a loved one is struggling with high functioning depression, there are a number of resources available to help. These include:

  • Mental health helplines: Mental health helplines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provide round-the-clock support.

  • Mental health websites: There are a number of mental health websites that provide information and resources on high functioning depression.

  • Mental health support groups: Support groups can be a great way to connect with others who are struggling with similar issues.

  • Mental health professionals: Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and counsellors can provide specialised treatment for high functioning depression.

How to Get Help for High Functioning Depression

If you or a loved one is struggling with high functioning depression, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help to diagnose the condition and provide an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment for high functioning depression should be tailored to the individual’s needs and may include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups.


Conclusion

High functioning depression is a serious mental health condition that can be difficult to recognise because the person appears to be functioning normally on the surface. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of high functioning depression and seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling. Treatment for high functioning depression should be tailored to the individual’s needs and may include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups. There are also a number of resources available to help those struggling with high functioning depression. If you or a loved one is struggling with high functioning depression, it is important to seek professional help.

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