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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High Functioning Depression

High Functioning Depression: Everything You Need To Know About It

High Functioning Depression: Everything You Need To Know About It


High-functioning depression is in many ways similar to major depression, but the signs and symptoms are less severe. Some of the most common signs a person can notice would be changes in sleeping and eating habits. Fatigue, lower self-esteem, and lack of concentration and hope. These symptoms will be present on the majority of days, causing a low mood that can last two years or even more. People who are struggling with high-functioning depression usually don’t show it externally so it’s not that easy to detect it.

Luckily, those who are dealing with this type of depression can go under treatment, which consists of medications and therapy, and it can be treated successfully. Another term that science is using to refer to high functioning depression is persistent depressive disorder (PDD). Here is everything you need to know about it. 

Definition of high functioning depression

Many mental disorders can make it difficult for a person to function as others do. Actually, it’s one of the most important diagnostic criteria for many mental illnesses. Such impairment implies that a person is not able to function fully in one or more areas of their life due to a certain mental health condition. For instance, they are not able to perform successfully at their job for long, or they are not able to ace their exam although they studied so hard for it. High functioning depression can also affect your personal life. So someone with high functioning depression will not be able to manage healthy relationships and will also avoid social activities, to name just a few examples. 

The people struggling with this form of depression will be able to function normally most of the time, yet they will experience most of the depression symptoms. That’s why it’s called persistent depressive disorder (PDD). 

High functioning depression symptoms

If you or someone in your life suspects of having a high functioning depression, or persistent depressive disorder, it’s best to reach out to a psychiatrist or any other mental health professional. High functioning depression should be diagnosed in order to be treated, and certain criteria need to be met for a diagnosis. When going through them, you will notice they are very similar to symptoms used to diagnose major depression. However, with high functioning depression, they are less severe. 

The first criteria are that the person is experiencing a depressed, low mood most of their days for at least two years. Also, this depressed mood should be present for most of the day. And it includes two of these symptoms below or more: 

  • Weak appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Concentration difficulties and struggling to make decisions
  • The feeling of sadness and hopelessness

Besides these symptoms, a psychiatrist or another mental health professional will also check other criteria that need to be met to diagnose a PDD. These are: 

  • The person has never experienced mania or hypomania, which is what unusual euphoric and energetic moods are called.
  • There is no better way to explain the depression symptoms by another mental illness, medical condition or substance abuse. 
  • The symptoms a person has in their depressed mood have to cause some impairment in at least one area of the person’s life, including significant distress.
  • A person with PDD as a diagnosis might also meet the criteria for major depression.

Do you have high functioning depression?

As it will be difficult to respond to these questions with the help of a professional, There are other moments you might recognize in your life that might indicate you have a high functioning depression. While going through this list, if the majority of these things sound close to you, you should consider seeking adequate treatment and support. 

  • Most of the time, you feel down or depressed. Your friends and family notice it as well and they have pointed it out to you several times already.
  • When you are feeling happy, these moments usually don’t last long and you go back to your low mood. 
  • You also feel tired most of the time, although you get enough sleep and are not sleep deprived in any way.
  • When talking about energy, most of the time you feel like you lack it and that’s preventing you from even doing the things you want to do.
  • You don’t feel good about yourself. Also, you feel as if you don’t deserve happiness or are unworthy of connecting with others.
  • Your weight is changing without your willingness to change it; it’s simply a result of having no appetite or overeating.
  • You might also lack hope or you will need to cry a lot without a real, concrete reason. 
  • Your performance at school or work might be really good. Yet you are facing difficulties when it comes to concentration and focus.  
  • You need to force yourself to participate in social activities because you don’t feel the actual need of going. 

Coping with depressive episodes

When talking about high functioning depression, there are many coping mechanisms. One of the most recommended techniques is journaling. Once you start writing your feelings and thoughts onto a piece of paper or in a document on your computer. You will feel like you can manage them with more ease. This, of course, doesn’t imply that just by journaling you can achieve improvement, yet it’s a good way of documenting how you feel every day and not having to have all these emotions and thoughts bottled up inside. 

Another great coping mechanism is exercising. Besides being a great, healthy activity, exercising can also make you feel more relaxed, energized and satisfied. With a wide variety of activities, you can choose whichever one you prefer – yoga, pilates, jogging, cardio, kickbox, swimming, hiking, etc. 

For those looking for more indoor activities, the perfect option is cooking. We often overlook all the positive sides of a cooking process and skip to conversations about the importance of good nutrition, yet cooking is such a valuable activity for everyone. The feeling of achievement when you prepare a meal for the first time, the creativity of combining different ingredients, the mesmerizing smell spreading around your kitchen, … All these things can elevate your mood easily, and maybe next time, you’ll be even ready to invite your friends over for dinner. 

As much as working or studying can be productive activities for you, don’t spend your free time on it. You should have hobbies and activities that make you feel good. Improve your self esteem and decrease the fear of not being worthy of something. Once you decide what makes you feel good about yourself. Make a promise to yourself that you will always find time for it. 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do