When we think of high functioning depression, we often think of someone who is perpetually sad. Perhaps you think of a depressed individual curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth in an uncontrollable panic about how terrible their life is.
And perhaps that perception of depression is accurate—for some people.
But the reality is that depression and all of its symptoms present themselves differently in everyone, which is why you may be suffering from depression and not even know it.
Where clinical depression often persists over time, high functioning depression is a whole different set of symptoms that often go unnoticed.
Here are 7 Signs You May Have High Functioning Depression.
You stress about time.
Those who suffer from high functioning depression are often over-achievers who constantly find themselves stressing about the time. The time it takes to get something done, time spent on something that may not be worth it, and the time needed to complete an endless list of other tasks. Evaluating your time probably doesn’t stop with task-oriented things either. It’s likely that if you’re suffering from high-functioning depression, you stress about your time and make to-do lists of even the joys of life, like your hobbies and alone time.
You criticize yourself often.
Individuals with high functioning depression are notorious for self-criticism. You often feel like you aren’t getting enough done, and as a result, you criticize yourself and your productivity—even in things that don’t require you to be productive. It’s likely that you set your expectations too high, and in an effort to achieve all of your goals, you wear yourself thin and effectively beat yourself down through the process.
You are a professional over-thinker.
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, big or small, those with high functioning depression are masters at over-thinking things. It’s an absolutely exhausting cycle of over-analyzing and self-criticizing that often leads to mental and emotional breakdowns.
You feel misunderstood.
It’s easy to see why high functioning depressives could feel like those around them don’t understand. You function like anyone else would, maintaining a house, a job, and a seemingly healthy social life. But what’s going on internally doesn’t match what others can see on the outside. It’s common for people with high functioning depression to feel misunderstood because they don’t act like the typical depressed person.
You feel numb.
Emotions are part of our everyday life, so it’s normal to experience sadness and grief from time to time. Where this differs with high functioning depressives is that the emotion of feeling sad or “numb,” doesn’t come and go, it’s a state of being. You may feel de-sensitized in situations that would typically stir emotion, or inexplicably sad in situations that would otherwise be considered joyful.
Your coping strategies are extreme.
People who suffer from high functioning depression deal with stressful situations by “taking the edge off” with alcohol or drugs. In an effort to clear your mind, you might turn to what could be a self-destructive habit without even realizing it.
You do things in excess.
Another unhealthy coping habit of high functioning depressives is turning to video games or Netflix to escape the thoughts of your mind. Rather than playing for an hour, or watching an episode, you likely find yourself sitting in the same place on your couch deep into the early hours of the morning, getting lost in the endless bank of “escape” TV at your fingertips.
High functioning depression is not easily noticeable because like most mental illnesses, those suffering are not visibly fighting it. In fact, those who suffer from high functioning depression often exude the opposite of what we think when we imagine someone battling depression. They’re highly productive, goal-oriented, and self-motivated. But that doesn’t make their suffering any less than another person.
Of course, this list cannot diagnose you with high functioning depression, only a doctor can do that. But hopefully, it helps you to identify your symptoms and lead you in the right direction of better understanding what you may be experiencing.