How well do you know your friends, co-workers or even family? It may seem that you know a lot about them, but they may be hiding a part of themselves from you. What you may see on the surface is a happy marriage, a great job, and lots of friends.Â But what you wonâ€™t see is the unhappiness, lack of energy, and constant self-doubt, which are all symptoms of high-functioning depression.
Depression can be devastating and debilitating for anyone. It affects nearly 350 million people worldwide, and you probably know someone who lives with depression. People tend to be more familiar with major depressive disorder (MDD), as the symptoms are more visible. Symptoms of MDD can be physical and mental, such as exhaustion, irritability, appetite changes, loss of interest or motivation, and a sense of overwhelming hopelessness, just to name a few. These symptoms are often present in high-functioning depression as well, but to a lesser degree. It can be hard for someone with high-functioning depression to identify their symptoms as depression because they often mask their symptoms and so it doesnâ€™t match the stereotypical picture of depression. Some signs to look for include: being an overachiever, constant self-criticism, feeling like you’re wasting time, and substance abuse.
The exact cause of high-functioning depression isn’t known. However, as with MDD, it may involve more than one cause, such as biological differences, brain chemistry, inherited traits and life events. One of the most difficult aspects of high-functioning depression is peopleâ€™s ability to blend into society and the lack of understanding that goes with it. Examples of celebrities with high-functioning depression include Kristen Bell, Dwayne Johnston, Lady Gaga, and J.K. Rowling.
Here are a few additional things to know:
1. People cannot understand the complexity of the symptoms unless theyâ€™ve lived through it
2. Everyday activities feel impossible
3. Illness doesnâ€™t have to be seen to be real
4. Checking in on the person is appreciated
5. It goes deeper than lifeâ€™s circumstances
6. Outside appearances donâ€™t always match what is going on in the inside
7. The tiniest gesture can go a long way
8. Those with high-functioning depression are more likely to commit suicide than those whose depression is more visible
9. Treatment does work and varies for everyone
By: Anita Levesque
Anita is a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones;Â father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD;Â boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personalityÂ disorders. Her goal is to focus on personal experiencesÂ with mental illness.