Do you think of yourself as someone who always has trouble being in a good mood or feeling positive? If feeling depressed, even on a low level, is your usual setting, you may have signs of high-functioning depression. New View Wellness in Atlanta understands how this mental health disorder can affect the everyday life of those who suffer from it. We created a program that includes several levels of outpatient care that helps people reduce their symptoms of high-functioning depression and begin to enjoy life again.

What is High-Functioning Depression?

When people think of depression, they often think of someone who has difficulty getting dressed and getting out of bed and is unable to do simple things like holding down a job or having relationships. Someone can have something called high-functioning depression, which is often diagnosed as persistent depressive disorder. Signs of high-functioning depression often mimic those of depression, but the person still finds themselves able to participate in life. For example, they may hold down a job, have a social life, and appear to be doing well to others. When this happens, family and friends often have a hard time recognizing their loved one suffers from a mental health disorder.

Because the person who is sick often does not feel they fit the bill for needing professional help, they often do not reach out for it. Because high-functioning depression often includes short periods of improved symptoms, the person may feel they are just moody or a down kind of person. However, any type of depression is a serious condition and needs professional help in order to allow the person to become better. 

Is High-Functioning Depression Real?

Many types of mental health disorders are easily recognized and acknowledged by the general public. For example, if someone discusses schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), most people are familiar with these conditions. If a family member, friend, or acquaintance stated that they suffered from one of these mental illnesses, almost everyone would take them at face value. They would not be quick to express doubt that the person had this mental health disorder or suggest the idea that the illness is not real.

It can be a different story when it comes to high-functioning depression. Stereotypes exist that a person cannot truly struggle with depression unless their life appears to be completely unmanageable. Some people mistakenly believe that having depression means a person exhibits constant signs such as being unable to get out of bed or function in life in any meaningful way.

The signs of high-functioning depression can be tricky because they aren’t consistent with the images people have in mind. Someone who does well at work or in school, participates in extracurricular activities, and appears to be upbeat a great deal of time can still have high-functioning depression. Unfortunately, some people who know them may believe this diagnosis cannot be real because they don’t understand the validity of it. 

Humans can masquerade in a variety of ways, and hiding mental illness is one mask they often wear. They may say they feel fine or they may produce results in their lives that make the idea that they are depressed seem unlikely. However, what goes on in their minds and the emotions they experience, including anxiety at being able to continue to appear like everything is fine, is not always evident to even the people closest to them.

What are the Signs of High-Functioning Depression?

Signs of high-functioning depression do occur. Someone concerned that they or someone they love may have it should look out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Consistently feeling sad, down, or hopeless
  • Feeling guilty because of not having better moods
  • Short periods of improved mood followed by a return to depression
  • Crying
  • Lack of belief that things will ever improve
  • Lack of energy
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Isolating
  • Poor eating habits that lead to weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty thinking and making decisions
  • Headaches, stomachaches, and body aches with no known cause
  • Difficulty performing well at work or school
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate

What It Feels Like To Be Living with High-Functioning Depression

A person can recognize a checklist of the signs of high-functioning depression they experience, but that’s not the full picture. In fact, some people develop a better understanding of if they have this kind of depression when they consider what it feels like on a regular basis. In addition, it can help educate a loved one so they understand better what it feels like to live with high-functioning depression. 

Someone who has high-functioning depression may appear upbeat to others but typically feels some level of depression most of the time. They may cycle upwards sometimes, but beneath it all is the unshakeable feeling of sorrow and hopelessness. Even during happy moments or events, the person has the nagging feeling that this is a temporary high and the depression will always pull them back down.

Lethargy often accompanies high-functioning depression. The person may experience insomnia or even sleep too much, but they still operate on a regular basis feeling tired and lacking energy. Getting good nutrition can be challenging because the person may lack a healthy appetite, causing them to eat too little. On the flip side, they may overeat as compensation for their depressive feelings and gain weight. In both situations, poor nutritional choices can affect their bodies, which in turn contributes to depression.

Someone with high-functioning depression may be able to check off a list of accomplishments related to job tasks, attending school, family responsibilities, cleaning the house, and more. But underneath it all, most activities feel like a chore and they have to fight their depression to get things done. 

How People With High-Functioning Depression See Themselves

Someone exhibiting signs of high-functioning depression often does their best to appear to others as if everything is fine. If others comment on their down moods, they may write themselves off as someone who gets grumpy or sees the glass as half-empty. Even when short bursts of feeling better happen, either the person knows they won’t last or they take them as proof that they don’t really have depression. 

The individual may see themselves as lazy because they can’t muster the energy to perform all the tasks they want to do. They feel like they let down their families, friends, co-workers, and themselves. This leads to feelings of guilt and shame. People with high-functioning depression often manage to do just enough of their “to-do” list, such as go to work or school and perform household chores, in order to make it appear to others that everything is fine. What others may not know is it can prove to be a real struggle to get the minimum things done, which compounds the feelings of depression. 

Treatment for High-Functioning Depression

When someone comes to us because they suffer from signs of high-functioning depression, our depression treatment in Atlanta begins by conducting a thorough assessment. We look for reasons that may have contributed to developing depression and any treatment history, or history of mental illness. This allows us to design a program specific to the needs of each person we treat. 

Our programs include Intensive Outpatient Programs, Virtual IOP, and Partial Hospitalization Programming. Included with each level of care are a host of types of therapy that help people minimize symptoms of depression and even overcome it. These include individual therapy, family therapy, psychotherapy, psychiatry, and more.

Can High-Functioning Depression Influence Drug and Alcohol Abuse?

About half of all people who struggle with a mental health disorder also develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. When it comes to depression, the individual often finds the symptoms so overwhelming that they attempt to self-medicate. They hope to cover up or delay their sadness and hopelessness by drinking or using drugs. What may start out as having a few drinks or getting high sometimes can turn into a substance use disorder. 

Conquering High-Functional Depression

It may sound like a cliche, but often when facing a big problem in a person’s life, the first step is acknowledging something is wrong that needs addressing. If a person exhibits signs of high-functioning depression, the first step to conquering it is to understand that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of or to try to hide. Millions of people are in the same boat. Someone ready to face this issue can ask their doctor for an assessment or talk to a mental health counselor to receive a diagnosis. Understanding that the individual has a legitimate mental illness can then lead to looking for the right treatment program to help the person overcome it. 

Get Help for High-Functioning Depression in Atlanta, GA

While many people have never heard of this mental health disorder, even those who have may not recognize that they exhibit signs of high-functioning depression. This pervasive disease makes it difficult for people to experience a good mood and impacts every area of their lives. New View Wellness in Atlanta can provide a thorough diagnosis and design a treatment program based on each person’s needs. We match each patient with the level of care they need and guide them through the steps to feeling better. 

Are you ready to learn to live without having depression constantly influence your mood? Visit our admissions page now and find out how to get started feeling better.