8 Things You Should Know About High-Functioning Depression

It may not be apparent, but just getting through the day is exhausting.

The warning symptoms of high-functioning depression can be challenging to identify. That’s because they frequently present as being fully fine on the outside. They report for duty, complete their work, and maintain their relationships. They are screaming inside even as they go through the motions of living their normal lives.

Everybody talks about depression and anxiety, but what those terms mean to various people varies, according to Dr. Carol A. Bernstein, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at NYU Langone Health.

From a medical standpoint, “high-functioning depression” is not a diagnostic subtype. Although depression can strike at any time, the real question is how long it lasts and how much it affects our ability to carry on with our lives.

Depression and high-functioning depression are the same thing. Depression can range in severity from minor to severe. 16.2 million Americans experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2016.

According to Ashley C. Smith, a certified clinical social worker, “some people with depression can’t go to work or school, or their performance suffers significantly because of it.” “For those with high-functioning depression, that is not the case. Most of the time, they can still function in life.

But just because you can survive the day doesn’t mean it’s simple. The experiences of seven persons who live and work with high-functioning depression are summarized below.



1. You have to prove that you’re struggling and need help

“High-functioning depression makes daily life very challenging. Even while you can navigate work and life and generally complete tasks, you’re not completing them to your full capacity.Beyond that, nobody truly thinks you’re having a hard time because your life isn’t in complete disarray yet. Because I wasn’t dropping out of school or dressing like a complete disaster, no one would believe me when I said that I was suicidal and on the verge of ending it all while I was a student. It’s the same at work. People who beg for help must be taken seriously.

“Finally, a lot of mental health services have needs-based criteria, which means that in order to receive treatment, you must exhibit a particular level of depression. I have to lie about how I’m functioning even when I’m in an extremely bad mood and continuously thinking suicide to get access to resources.

—- Alicia, a Toronto-based writer and lecturer on mental health


2. You feel like you’re constantly “faking it”

Imposter syndrome is a term that is frequently used to describe the feeling that one is merely ‘faking it’ and isn’t as well-adjusted as one might imagine. For people who battle with severe depression and other types of mental illness, there is a version of this. You get fairly good at ‘playing yourself,’ or assuming the identity that those around you expect you to have.


— Daniel, publicist, Maryland


3. But the bad days are unbearable

“An awful day now… I struggle to get out of bed, and I have to really embarrass myself to take a shower and get ready. I wear cosmetics so I don’t draw attention to my interior problems. Nobody should bother me, and I don’t want to converse. I put on a front of friendliness since I have rent to pay and don’t want to make things more difficult for myself.I want to simply check into my hotel room after work and cruise around YouTube or Instagram aimlessly. I’ll eat unhealthy food, feel inferior to others, and degrade myself.

“I have more bad days than good days, but I’ve gotten skilled at pretending that I don’t so that my clients think I’m an excellent employee. I frequently receive praise for my work. But deep down, I am aware that I fell short of my potential. — Christian


4. Getting through the bad days requires an enormous amount of energy

“Getting through a terrible day is quite exhausting. I do finish my task, but it’s not at my best. Task completion takes substantially longer. In an effort to regain control of my thoughts, I spend a lot of time staring into space. Even though I am aware that my coworkers cannot possibly be aware of my difficult day, I find that I easily become annoyed with them. I tend to be quite critical of myself and avoid showing my boss any of my work on bad days out of concern that he’ll think I’m incompetent.

“Prioritizing my tasks is one of the most useful things I do on terrible days. I make sure to complete the more difficult tasks when I have the greatest energy since I am aware that the harder I push myself, the more likely I am to give in.

— Courtney, a North Carolina-based marketing expert


5. The good days are relatively “normal”

“I define a good day as being able to get up prior to or at the sound of my alarm, take a shower, and put on makeup. As my profession as a software trainer requires me to, I can endure being around people. I don’t have a bad attitude or nervousness. Without feeling completely hopeless, I can get through the evening and talk to my coworkers. I can concentrate and think clearly on my best days. I consider myself to be competent and successful.

— Christian, a software instructor from Dallas


6. Living with high-functioning depression is exhausting

Living with high-functioning depression, in my opinion, is incredibly draining. “It’s knowing that you’re useless and a waste of oxygen… and doing everything in your power to prove that wrong by being the best student, best daughter, or best employee you can be. It’s spending the day smiling and forcing laughter when you’re plagued by the feeling that the people you interact with only just tolerate you and your existence in the world. Going above and beyond day in and day out is trying to convince someone that you are deserving of their attention when you don’t feel like you are.

— Meaghan, a New York-based law student


7. Asking for help is the strongest thing you can do

Asking for assistance does not indicate weakness. You become the exact opposite as a result, in fact. My despair showed up as a significant increase in drinking. So bad that I had to go to treatment for six weeks in 2017. “Everyone might have their own perspective, but all three facets of the triangle of my mental health — quitting drinking, talk therapy, and medicine — have been essential. I’ve been sober for just shy of 17 months. The drug has been a crucial factor in my recovery because it especially aids in my daily maintenance of a level state.

— Kate, a New York-based travel agent


“Seek treatment if the depression is significantly affecting your quality of life and you believe that you should be feeling better. Consult your health care physician about it; many of them are experienced in treating depression. Also, ask for a recommendation for a therapist.

“While there is still a lot of stigma associated with having a mental illness, I would say that it is slowly beginning to fade. Admitting you need help and have a problem is perfectly acceptable.

— Daniel


8. You can struggle to focus, and feel like you’re not performing to the best of your ability

Sometimes, nothing is accomplished. I can spend the entire day in a protracted trance, or it can take the entire day to finish a few tasks. Being in public relations and working with people and organizations who support noble causes, which frequently touch people’s hearts, can make me feel even worse, “While I’m typing away on a narrative, tears may start to fall down my face. That might potentially work in my client’s favor because I am so passionate and invested in telling significant stories, but it’s quite frightening because the feelings are so intense.

Tonya, a California publicist

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