High functioning depression is a form of depression that often gets lost in the mix. That is because when people think of depression, they often think of the stereotypical image of what a person with this mental illness might be like. They might think of someone who cannot get out of bed, who has a poor relationship with food, has sleeping problems, and/or who has problems getting motivated and staying focused. Of course, there are millions of people who experience depression and who have those symptoms, but certainly not all individuals with depression do. Some struggle with high functioning depression, which can be even more difficult to admit having.
What is High Functioning Depression?
Nearly 7% of Americans grapple with some degree of depression. Put simply, depression is a mental health condition that is clinically referred to major depressive disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness states that in order for someone to be diagnosed with depression, they must be experiencing at least five or more specific criteria during the same two-week period and one of the symptoms should either be a depressed mood or loss of interest/pleasure.
High-functioning depression is not actually a clinical condition, rather it is a term used to describe what is known professionally as persistent depressive disorder, or PDD. Generally speaking, those with high functioning depression are able to uphold their responsibilities at home, at work, in school, and throughout most all other areas of their lives. Many people with high functioning depression even go on to accomplish several achievements and experience great success in their lives. Think of someone like Jim Carrey or Lady Gaga, two highly successful individuals who have battled this type of depression in their lives. Of course, celebrities are not the only victorious people in the world, as your stay-at-home moms, office manager, CEO, utility worker, and elected officials can experience high functioning depression, too, and come out on top.
Signs of High Functioning Depression
Someone who feels down from time to time but who is able to function well in their life is usually someone who experiences high functioning depression. Instead, there are types of criteria that a person must experience, including the following:
- The depressed mood must occur on the majority of days for at least two full years without any relief for more than to months within those two years
- The person has not had a period of mania or hypomania
- The depression symptoms cannot be explained by any other medical or psychological issue
Generally speaking, however, some of the most common symptoms linked to high functioning depression include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Changes in appetite (eating too much or not enough)
- Problems sleeping, such as not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Experiencing feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness
Individuals who have high functioning depression can also struggle with irritability and agitation. In some cases, the irritability that a person experiences can significantly impact their lives and the lives of those around them. For example, when someone is experiencing depression of any kind, they can quickly become overwhelmed by even the smallest of things. Being so easily overwhelmed can trigger a short fuse, causing the individual to get angry easily, regularly be in a bad mood, or become unapproachable.
It is easy to assume that someone with high functioning depression is social and involved in different hobbies and activities. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many individuals with high functioning depression remain socially withdrawn even if they are in the company of others. These same individuals may have little to no motivation to get involved in hobbies or start a new activity, which can lead to a sense of loneliness and low self-confidence.
Other symptoms that can become prevalent in the life of someone with high functioning depression include seeking perfection, feelings of guilt, anxiety, or negative self-criticism.
Risk Factors for High Functioning Depression
Depression can be fueled by genetics or environment, or even a combination of both. It is highly common for people within the same family to experience high functioning depression or another type of depression because of this genetic tie. Families may also see this connection even if it isn’t present in the bloodline, as the type of environment people are raised in can increase their risk for depression. This is all-too-true for those who struggle with poverty, live in low-income housing, have loved ones who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who face socio-economic hardships.
The good news is that high functioning depression is treatable. Individuals with high functioning depression can benefit from individual and group therapy, as well as medications designed to treat this specific type of mental health condition. It is best treated when therapy and medication are combined, especially in those where both genetics and environment both play a role in the depression.
Depression Treatment in Los Angeles
Living with high functioning depression can be extremely painful and completely discouraging. Thankfully, however, you do not need to carry on attempting to deal with your symptoms on your own. There are many different evidence-based methods of care that can help you get in control of your depression once and for all.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and are struggling to cope with them, reach out to us at Riviera Recovery right now. We understand the difficulty that comes with attempting to live with untreated depression and we are here to help. You do not need to go through this alone or look to self-medicate your symptoms. There is help available.
Call us right now.