High-functioning depression is one of the most difficult forms of depression to recognize. Societal expectations of depression tend to be stereotypical and not meeting those standards but still having depression can be complicated to understand. Generally, when we discuss depressive symptoms, crying, withdrawing, difficulty getting out of bed, poor hygiene- to name a few, are some things that most people recognize. What makes high functioning depression complicated is that the person suffering appears to be “normal.”
The first thing we need to understand about high functioning depression is that high functioning does not mean fully functioning. The individuals are still impacted by the same symptoms of depression but not as severely. Nevertheless, it is depression and it IS exhausting. It is not uncommon for individuals to feel like they are faking who they are, or having the need to prove that they are worthy of any help that they receive. It takes an effort to keep up with the daily routine and the stress of bad days adds more shame along with an escalating feeling of worthlessness. They find themselves going above and beyond because they do not want to appear “lazy” or feel nagged by the ‘concerned coworkers’ about “not looking so good today.”
It is more than just a mood swing or (my favorite response) “that time of the month.” Men or women can experience this – depression does not discriminate. It can be difficult to manage but not impossible.
Here are some of the things you can do.
As a loved one:
- Gentle check-ins
It is absolutely okay to ask how someone’s day is. If you know or notice that they are struggling with something, instead of saying “you don’t look good today”, try saying something about possibly seeming a bit distracted and offer to help.
You don’t have to experience something to know the impact it has on others. As a society, we taught ourselves to feel shame for mental health issues we may be facing. A little grace and space can help more than you know.
- Encourage to get treatment
You do not have to have something “wrong” to seek services for mental health. We function so much in “reactive” vs “proactive” mode that we do not allow ourselves the necessary tools to function at our highest level. It is okay to invest in ourselves to become a better version of ourselves.
As someone suffering from this:
- Medical treatment
Start with your doctor. Shifts and/or imbalance in our hormones require some readjustment and there are medications that can take some of the edges off while you work on healing.
- Mental health treatment
You feel exhausted. You know it feels much more intense than not getting enough rest. You know there is help out there- the tough question now is when are you ready to make that call?
I strongly believe that more people are impacted by depression than are reported. Most times we mislabel it as “stress only” and overlook the lasting damage this leaves in our lives. It can be confusing to figure out what to do, whether you are or someone you know is suffering from depression. You may have questions that are not directed answered; reach out. We are happy to help.