Understanding high-functioning depression, its symptoms and signs

Fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation… The list of depression symptoms is long and well-known. However, there are subtypes of this mental illness, including high-functioning depression, a variant of persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). A milder but chronic form of depression characterises this subtype.

What is high-functioning depression?

Although not officially recognised by the WHO or standard medical manuals, many mental health specialists identify high-functioning depression. Its symptoms are harder to detect because, unlike major depressive disorder, individuals with high-functioning depression do not necessarily suffer from lethargy.

Hidden struggles behind success

“The difficulties are often hidden behind success and productivity,” explains licensed psychologist Natasha Trujillo to the Huffington Post. This complexity makes the illness harder to perceive. Yet, according to specialists, one sign is particularly telling: the lack of pleasure during joyful moments.

Key signs of high-functioning depression

People with high-functioning depression may not experience typical symptoms like sleep disorders, low energy, or loss of interest. Instead, they might display a lack of joy or pleasure despite experiencing pleasant moments or receiving good news.

Emotional detachment

This absence of enthusiasm can be attributed to emotional disconnection. “This detachment can manifest as a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed, a feeling of being stuck in a routine, or a sense of emotional numbness, even in typically strong emotional situations,” adds therapist Becca Reed.

Additional symptoms to watch for

According to British psychologist Julie Smith, five additional symptoms can identify this condition:

  1. Feeling empty inside but not showing it.
  2. Working a lot without enthusiasm while appearing happy.
  3. Numbing oneself with social media, TV shows, or junk food.
  4. Neglecting oneself but only when out of sight.
  5. Forcing oneself to be social, having concentration or sleep issues, and feeling a bit sad and tired.

How to react if you notice these signs

Unlike major depressive disorder, these symptoms might go unnoticed but are no less serious. To start, work on communicating feelings and encourage the person to feel safe and vulnerable. However, nothing replaces the help and support of a healthcare professional who can assist in recognising and addressing the issue. A therapist often provides a neutral environment compared to family or friends, making it easier to open up.

High-functioning depression is a subtle yet serious condition. Recognising its signs and symptoms is crucial for early intervention and support. If you or someone you know exhibits these signs, seek professional help to ensure proper care and recovery.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire France
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer


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