Depression is not a new topic of discussion. It has been around for some time, and many people recognize the signs of the condition. However, there are multiple levels of depression, with significant clinical depression being the most intense of the illness’s presentations. High functioning depression or dysthymia is a type of major clinical depression where a person can fulfill the basic requirements of living independently and supporting oneself. Unlike some versions of major clinical depression, a high functioning depressive can easily hold down a job and care for themselves.
Because a person can do all the basic tasks required to operate in society, it can be nearly impossible to spot high-functioning depression. To the outside world, a person with this form of major depression seems fine all the time. Because mental health is such a complex topic to broach, the patient may avoid talking about their condition with others to make it less likely that others will worry about them. However, just because a person can care for themselves doesn’t mean they are okay. High functioning depression, like any other depressive situation, requires treatment and understanding.
High Functioning Vs. Other Mental Health Disorders
High-functioning depressives may seem as though they have everything figured out. They may go to great lengths to keep this facade up because it helps them to hide their depression from others. Typically, this comes from the person having a stereotypical idea of depression, where a person’s life falls apart because they can’t take care of themselves. To avoid this happening to them, they go above and beyond to ensure that their life looks well put together. Unfortunately, this can have an additional effect since it can be difficult for anyone to spot that the patient is depressed.
Addressing depression usually means being able to spot it. Low functioning depressives tend to have problems with basic things like holding down a job or getting out of bed in the morning. In these cases, it’s easy to see where the person is suffering and reach out to help them. High functioning depression still needs treatment but is harder for a professional or a loved one to spot happening. These patients don’t bother to reach out for help either since they don’t even believe they may be suffering from depression. How can someone tell if a patient is suffering from this illness if it’s so difficult to spot?
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Signs Of High Functioning Depression
Spotting high functioning depression is challenging but not impossible. There are some signs that a person can use to figure out if someone they know and care about is suffering from depression like this.
- Difficulty Being Happy about Successes: Very often, the high functioning depressive won’t celebrate their successes like other people. Depression makes it impossible for them to have any sort of sustained joy or happiness in their lives.
- Lack of Energy and Motivation: While they may be highly functional, they may lack the drive or ambition to do more for themselves. They will be constantly tired because completing a day feels like having to run down a hallway with weights on your ankles.
- Constant Self-Doubt: Depression creates a situation where a person continually doubts themselves. No matter how many accomplishments they achieve or what they do, they will always feel they’re never enough. This second-guessing can lead to anxiety, compounding depression, making it difficult to get anything done.
- Insomnia or Poor Sleeping Patterns: One of the more noticeable signs of high functioning depression is how tired or lackluster a patient is. Insomnia or poor sleeping patterns make it difficult for the person’s brain to rest and recover, leading to bags under their eyes or worse.
Other Forms of High Functioning Mental Health Disorder
High functioning depression is only one of the many mental illnesses that have a version that is difficult to diagnose and treat. Among the mental illnesses that have a high functioning component are:
- Anger Management
- Eating Disorders
There are many others, but the naming convention of high functioning has been questioned as a way to qualify these disorders. Many people who suffer from these illnesses deal with their everyday tasks just like everyone else. They don’t complain to anyone else and make an effort to keep up appearances. However, on the inside, some days are worse than others. It’s all about keeping things together for as long as possible and sticking a smile on one’s face so that no one notices. Unfortunately, this sort of stress hurts a person’s mental state.
The increased anxiety of having to put up appearances can quickly devolve and leave the sufferer wondering if it’s all worth it. Since the symptoms are difficult to spot, they might not even know they have a mental illness. Diagnosis usually requires the input of a mental health professional that can guide them towards uncovering the illness and show them that they don’t have to be afraid or worried about it. The societal stigma around mental health is partially to blame for this approach to hiding one’s depression. Doctors often have to be detectives and medical health workers to uncover the deeply-buried clues about a person’s high functioning mental illness.
Treating High Functioning Depression
Once a person realizes that they are suffering from high functioning depression, the next step is to find treatment. A mental health professional will be able to guide you toward finding a treatment that can suit you. High-functioning depression tends to leave sufferers in a rut. There are some valuable methods of helping oneself cope with the pressures of this type of depression.
- Get Emotional Support: Friends, family, or even local community members can be a significant part of helping a person cope with their major depressive episodes. It helps a lot to have a social support network that a depressed person can rely on when necessary.
- Limit Drug Use: Substance use can lead to spiraling and even drive a person deeper into depression. Ideally, a person who is trying to leave their depression behind shouldn’t be using drugs or alcohol since it’s counterintuitive to their overall goal.
- Establish a Bedtime: You might not think you need eight hours of sleep a night, but your body will disagree. Setting a bedtime and sticking to it is a crucial part of being well-rested and can help people cope with their depressive disorder more effectively.
- Make Improvements in Diet: Focusing on one’s nutrition and changing one’s diet to eat foods that give more energy can change a person’s outlook on life. Better nutrition leads to an impetus for more activity and less tiredness overall.
- Set Daily Goals: Sometimes, the simplest tasks seem like the hardest ones to accomplish. By setting attainable goals, patients can slowly adapt their energy and activity to something that gives them a feeling of accomplishment. These small bursts of dopamine can keep depression at bay.
- Use Exercise: You don’t have to go all-out on exercise to add it to your schedule. Instead, consider fitting in some exercise every now and again to get you perked up for your daily tasks. Exercise can also produce that much-needed dopamine and keep both anxiety and depression in check.
- Contact a Psychotherapist: Psychotherapy provides some actionable ways for patients to deal with their depressive disorder. Don’t rule out seeing a professional just because you have ways of coping on your own.
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Psychotherapy for Depression
A psychotherapist is a mental health professional that will help a depressed person through therapy. Among the therapy methods used for depression are:
- Solution-Focused Therapy: A therapeutic methodology that looks at solutions and encourages small changes that have a knock-on effect in other parts of the person’s life.
- Psychodynamic Therapy: Sometimes, the unconscious mind holds the key to overcoming depression. The psychodynamic theory tries to unlock that part of the mind to help with mental illness.
- Person-Centered Theory: Depression usually comes from a person not correctly understanding themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. Person-centric therapy helps patients explore these things in more detail and offers them the tools necessary to avoid falling prey to the lingering doubt that depression sows.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT has seen widespread use in treating substance use disorder, but it can be just as instrumental in helping patients with depression. CBT allows a patient to spot the negative thoughts that lead to negative actions and try to avoid those actions by amending the thoughts that lead to them.
Getting Treatment For High Functioning Depression
Are you dealing with high functioning depression, or do you know someone that is? Getting help should be high on the list of priorities. While changing one’s lifestyle will help to an extent, it won’t create real, lasting change unless accompanied by professional help. Emerald Isle has a cadre of skilled mental health professionals that understand how to deal with depression. For years, they’ve been treating patients for high functioning depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Contact us today to schedule a visit and talk about your situation. We think you’ll be glad you came.