High Functioning Depression

How to Recognize High Functioning Depression Symptoms?

How to Recognize High Functioning Depression Symptoms?


Many high functioning depression symptoms are similar to symptoms resulting from major depression, yet differ in more ways. These symptoms might be changes in sleeping and eating habits, lower self-esteem, hopelessness, fatigue, problems with concentration, etc. For it to be a high functioning depressing, a person should experience these symptoms most days that also cause almost constant low mood, which is present for at least two years. 

Most people with high functioning depression function normally, and their family and friends often cannot see any signs that the person has this disorder. However, depression is something that a person will struggle with it internally. High functioning depression can be treated with therapy and medications, allowing individuals experiencing it to have a happy, fulfilling life. 

High Functioning Depression

If you haven’t heard about high functioning depression, you should know that it can have serious consequences if a person is not receiving adequate treatment. Another term for high functioning depression is a persistent depressive disorder. If a person has high functioning depression they will experience most symptoms of depression, yet less severely. 

This means that the person with high functioning depression will function normally, from going to work or school to keeping up with different types of responsibilities in their lives. They also might engage in a range of social activities, so nobody around them will suspect they might be struggling with any form of depression. More importantly, the person often will be unable to detect depression in themselves because they are easy-going, participating in social activities, and performing well in their work or education environment. 

The outside world most often will not be able to notice a person is struggling with high functioning depression or persistent depressive disorder. Compared to major depression, high functioning depression should still be diagnosed and treated. When living with high functioning depression, a person can struggle and have a lower life quality than usual, yet getting the help they need can help significantly. 

High Functioning Depression Symptoms 

High functioning depression is a mental health condition diagnosed by a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional. To be diagnosed with high functioning depression, certain criteria must be met, which are all gathered in a high functioning depression test. 

The first criteria relate to the person being depressed most of the time and for most of the day for at least two years. This depressed mood a person is experiencing must include two or more of the symptoms mentioned below:

  • Lack of appetite or overeating,
  • Sleeping issues such as insomnia or oversleeping,
  • Lack of energy and fatigue,
  • Decreased self-esteem,
  • Issues with concentration and making decisions,
  • Feeling sad and hopeless.

Besides these symptoms, other criteria must be met for a person to be diagnosed with high functioning depression. The symptoms that the person is experiencing must be present on most days for at least two years without the period of relief from depression lasting more than two months. Also, the person mustn’t have experienced a period of mania or hypomania before in their life.

Before diagnosing the client with PDD, the psychiatrist or other mental health professional needs to ensure that these symptoms are not caused by any other mental health disorder, medical condition, or substance abuse. Although most individuals with PDD function normally, there will need to be a link between the high functioning depression and the impairment in one or more life areas of the individual.

Most clients struggling with high functioning depression have reported feeling the following ways:

  • Feeling a little down most of the days and others might have noticed it and describe you as cynical, downer, or gloomy. 
  • Your low mood is always somewhere in the background if not fully present, and it feels like you will never feel great again. 
  • You feel tired almost constantly, even when you get enough sleep and eat well.
  • You or others will wonder whether it’s laziness, yet it’s challenging for you to summon the energy to do more than the basic activities. 
  • You don’t feel good about yourself and you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy or liked by others in your life because you’re not worth it. 
  • Your weight has changed without your intent because of a lack of appetite or overeating. 
  • You often feel hopeless and cry without a concrete, realistic reason.
  • You perform well whether at work or school, yet it’s a challenge to focus on all your tasks and requires additional effort. 
  • Most of the time, you are forcing yourself to engage in social activities although you would rather stay at home alone. 

Living with High Functioning Depression

If diagnosed with high functioning depression, a person can continue living their life as they want, however, they will need to receive treatment, whether it’s therapy, medications, or both. A person struggling with this type of depression cannot decide on their therapy on their own, they will need to be guided by a mental health expert. 

Once in therapy, the client will receive guidelines, methods, and helpful tips to manage how their high-functioning depression affects their life. As it is with all other mental health disorders, a person often needs months or years of treatment until they can function in a way that their depression is not affecting them anymore. However, even in the initial sessions, a person will be able to improve some aspects of their depression because they will receive personalized guidelines from their psychiatrist, psychologist, or any other mental health professional.

In Final Words

Like major depression, high functioning depression or persistent depressive disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires treatment. Whether it’s you or someone close to you experiencing high functioning depression symptoms, reaching out to a mental health professional is the best way to approach it. This will help the person in need to find adequate treatment and work on improving the quality of their life. 

Struggling with depression, whether it’s a major or high functioning one, doesn’t allow you to have a happy life, and not addressing it can only lead to even worse conditions. Reaching out to someone you trust is the first step to recovery, don’t postpone it and react on time.

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