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High functioning Depression patients are hard to detect.

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When we think about depression we think about an individual who encounters persistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness and has a lack of drive and desire to engage in activities that they previously liked. Basically someone who is miserable and is a recluse. But the reality of a high functioning depressed individual is far from it. In fact, they barely meet the ideal criteria for depression. And who it baffles more are psychiatrists and clinicians.

This type of depression is known as Dysthymia or chronic depression that still allows a person to live a high-functioning life irrespective of their symptoms which may be milder than Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It may not completely cripple an individual but would not allow them to live fully and even worse may increase the risk of major depressive episodes if not treated immediately.

It’s quite difficult to spot the signs of high functioning depression. A person can act normal in their daily routine, go about their tasks, and keep up with their social lives all without expressing the unending turmoil that is going on in their minds. A major depressive disorder can mean different things to different people, and there is no textbook definition. A depression episode is considered severe when it lasts for too long and begins to interfere with our daily routine. Depression ranges from mild episodes to severe ones, some people feel immobilized when depressed and they refuse to get off the bed, go to school/work, or just function in normal activities.

However, for patients with high functioning depression, they can still go about their normal lives while feeling like a mess on the inside. But, going about their day like normal doesn’t mean it’s mentally easy on the person.

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So what does high functioning depression feel like?

Feeling like you’re faking it, all the time:

As mentioned before, people suffering from high functioning depression symptoms look put together all the time, but on the inside, they feel confused and lonely. This leads to several feelings that are quite similar to the imposter syndrome. Patients start thinking that they are being “fake” or that they are acting a role for the world to see. You become quite good at playing a version of yourself that people like and would respond to.

You have to prove that you need help:

When you decide to “come out” as depressed. Many people refuse to believe that you’re struggling or borderline suicidal because you don’t look the part. The only way to get around this is to believe people when they say they need help.

The good days are productive:

On a good day, a patient with high functioning depression will feel good inside and out. This means that they will be able to get up, have a shower, feel productive at work, socialize, and have a good sense of focus and clarity.

The bad days can be intolerable:

A bad day for a patient with major depressive disorder can send a person spiralling into a pit of self-criticism and loneliness. Patients usually have to fight themselves to get off the bed, practice basic personal hygiene, stay quiet and don’t interact with people much. Bad days also trigger anxiety and the constant feeling of “not being good enough”.

Struggling to focus and perform at your best:

Sometimes patients will feel like the day is just dragging by and no matter how much effort they put in, they are stuck with a never-ending pile of work, even just to get out of bed.

It takes a lot of strength to ask for help:

People suffering from dysthymia depression must understand that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s best to get help the moment you feel an episode coming on; if the feeling is swept under the rug, it can manifest itself in harmful habits like excessive alcohol consumption and heavy dependency on drugs.

Here are some signs of high-functioning depression:

  • They’re critical of themselves.

Individuals with high-functioning depression are more likely to be an overachiever and hence may be able to perform at work relatively better than individuals with MDD. And while one might believe this to be a good thing, in reality, it could make the individual highly critical of themselves which could be unhealthy for their self-esteem and self-worth.

  • They are workaholics.

Because of them being overachievers they end up making their work a high priority in their lives. But so doing come with feeling misery and anguish and in fact, they work against the current and flow of their being.

  • They resort to substance abuse.

Many individuals who suffer from dysthymia end up also being high-functioning substance abusers. This combination can have adverse effects on their mental health and wellbeing, families, interpersonal relationships, etc. They resort to alcohol and other drug use only as ways and means to cope with it.

  • They feel like they’re underused.

In spite of being overachievers they may feel like they still need to do more and hence give rise to them feeling worthless and hopelessness and also thoughts that they should rather die. They would probably end up switching their careers rapidly or find new hobbies on a constant.  This is because they are suffering from anhedonia or inability to find activities pleasurable.

Book screening with our director of triage,  Kamlesh Verma

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Get Help Immediately

It is essential to understand that although these individuals may be able to put out a tough exterior the reality of their condition is far from it and hence it is important for family members and friends of such individuals to identify these signs and help them cope with it. As family and friends, you could check on them and help find professional mental help.  If you may know someone who may have high functioning depression, get them help now, call on +919611194949.

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