What people with high-functioning depression want you to know

Things to know about people suffering with 'high-functioning' depression.
Things to know about people suffering with 'high-functioning' depression. Photo credit: Getty.

High-functioning depressives can be difficult to pinpoint. Many individuals who suffer from depression don't exhibit tangible, physical signs - the signals are far more imperceptible.

High-functioning depression is masked by an 'ordinary' exterior. People go to work, accomplish tasks and maintain relationships. They go through the motions to keep up with day-to-day life - and project the outward façade that they are okay. 

"Some people with depression can't go to work or school, or their performance suffers significantly," Ashley Smith, a licensed clinical social worker, told Healthline. "People with high-functioning depression... still function in life, for the most part."

Their ability to get through the day, however, does not mean it's easy. High-functioning depressives will feel internally that everything is falling apart.

Dr. Carol A. Bernstein, professor of psychiatry and neurology at New York University Langone Health, told the publication: "High-functioning depression isn't a diagnostic category from a medical standpoint.

"People can feel depressed, but the question with depression is for how long, and how much does it interfere with our capacity to go on with life?"

There's no difference between depression and high-functioning depression - other than how individuals cope with their mental illness. Some people will say 'high-functioning' have milder depression, as they are able to persevere - however, it can make help less accessible.

A high-functioning depressive, who projects to the world that they have everything together, will often deal with the following on an almost daily basis. They might not tell you, but these examples are good to keep in mind when living or working with someone with depression.

They often fake happiness to appear normal

For many depressives, there's a difficult binary of feeling one thing, and being another. To disguise what they're going through, depressives will 'act' out the role that people around them expect to see - they become adept at 'acting' like themselves.

They are not constantly sad

Depressives will have "relatively normal" good days, bad days and truly unbearable days. They are not always in one state of sadness. People may describe them as "moody" - exhaustion, stress and overthinking can cause their mood to swing dramatically.

Depression is exhausting and draining

Getting up and facing the day can take a huge amount of effort. Some days are physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Getting through the day is exhausting - everything is stressful, difficult, or a big deal. Mustering the will to perform expends a lot of energy.

They are highly self-critical, of themselves and their performance

Depressives experience 'daze-like' days where simple tasks become huge burdens. They struggle to focus and regain control of their minds. They fear judgement, and worry about incompetence. They stress over their performance, doubting themselves and their work.

Bad days are truly bad

A bad day is a battle from start to finish. They fight themselves to get up, and begin a procession of self-punishment. They feel like a burden to those around them, and can feel worthless and ashamed.

They don't always understand what is going on with them

Many people with depression feel like they don't need help. High-functioning depressives can put their feelings down to "a phase" and will soldier on without truly understanding their condition. It's easier to struggle in silence then try to explain what they're going through.

If someone says they are struggling with depression, let them know that asking for help is the strongest thing they can do. It is not something they need to disguise, hide or deal with alone.

Where to find help and support: