7 Symptoms of High Functioning Depression

People admire you. They look at you and see a hard-working contributor, a fun-loving parent, and a devoted spouse. You’re organized, always on time, your house is always clean, and your wardrobe is polished. You never miss a deadline at work, and you are always the first to volunteer for a community project.

To them, you are amazing. You’ve got your stuff together.

To you, you feel as if you’re drowning inside. You always feel tired, never get enough sleep, your appetite has changed, and you can count on your hands the number of times you felt real joy in the last year. You are sure everyone has x-ray vision and can see that you’re sad and struggle with insecurities internally.

If this sounds familiar, you may have signs of high functioning depression. By “high functioning,” you can keep up with all your regular responsibilities even though you are suffering from chronic low levels of depression. Some experts refer to this as persistent depressive disorder.

According to research, 1.5% of Americans struggle with this disorder. Here are several common symptoms of high functioning depression.

1. Appetite Changes

If you have high functioning depression, you may experience a change in appetite. One of two things can happen. You may lose your appetite and become uninterested in eating, causing weight loss. Or, you may overeat due to cravings for carbs and sweets, which can, in a small way, ease stress temporarily. Overeating will lead to unwanted weight gain, which can lead to physical health problems.

Mental health and physical health are linked. Depression that affects one can also affect the other.

2. Wanting to Isolate

While you still participate in activities, you would rather not have to. You are a great employee, but you prefer not to engage in socializing at work. While your co-workers like to eat lunch together, you want to continue working so you can leave early and get home sooner. You make plans with friends and family for the weekend. At the time, you are excited and eager. But when the weekend arrives, you are looking for ways to back out of the plans you made. Your high functioning depression makes you want to isolate yourself.

3. Sleep Disturbances

Sleep is a vital part of good health. With high functioning depression, sleep can be disturbed in multiple ways. You may have insomnia. Meaning you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Or, you may sleep too much. You may find yourself finding reasons to stay in bed when logically, you know you should have the energy to enjoy the day.

Depression can make you sleepy during times when you need to be awake. It can also make you wide awake when it is time to sleep. You have not done anything wrong. This is depression.

4. Lack of Energy

If you feel tired and low on energy, even after getting a good night’s sleep, this could be a sign of high functioning depression. You may compare yourself to others who can work all day, hit the grocery store on the way home. They prepare a big meal that they eat with the entire family around the dining room table. After dinner, they wash dishes and clothes, clean the house, and read a book before falling asleep.

With high functioning depression, you feel lucky to make it home with a pizza you picked up along your route. Having the energy to clean and enjoy an after-dinner activity is a dream.

This is true for many suffering from depressive symptoms.

5. Sadness and Hopelessness

One of the most common symptoms of high functioning depression is feeling sad or hopeless for no apparent reason. Even when you look at your life and realize you have more than you need and have received everything you’ve wanted, you still feel sadness.

These are signs of chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to depressive symptoms.

6. Difficulty Concentrating

The number of times you experience forgetfulness or brain fog is more than you would like to admit. It has become so hard to concentrate you can have a ten-minute conversation with someone but not remember what they said.

You worry that you may have attention deficit disorder or something worse, like early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. You may even consider meeting with a specialist to discuss the possibility of these disorders.

What you may not know is that these are very common signs of high functioning depression.

7. Lowered Self-Esteem

High functioning depressive symptoms can lead to negative self-talk. You may shame yourself for not being a better parent, spouse, or employee. Your self-esteem starts to lower. You talk yourself out of seeking help for your symptoms because you are convinced you should be strong enough and intelligent enough to get better on your own.

This only leads to more unnecessary shame and guilt. If only you knew the real reason behind your distress, depression, something you did not create or bring upon yourself.

If you only knew treatment for high functioning depression is available.

Treatment Options

The first step is simple, yet sometimes the hardest. It involves making a call to a local mental health center and asking for help. Doing this, however, can lead to quick improvements and positive life changes.

Depression treatment starts with an evaluation by a licensed mental health professional, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The assessment will determine if you have underlying medical issues contributing to your symptoms. Then, a treatment plan will be created.

The treatment plan can include medication for depression. Medication can be used as a temporary or long-term resource to help balance the chemicals in your brain that have dropped to low levels, causing depressive symptoms.

In addition, you can participate in individual counseling. A licensed therapist will teach you skills to overcome high functioning depression symptoms.

The good news is that you can get help as soon as today. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can start living the life you want.