Warning signs of HIGH Functioning Depression
Depression can manifest in many different forms, and so it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs, including for high functioning depression.
What is Depression?
Rather than solely being one condition, depression is a group of conditions, such as major depressive disorder, that share associated symptoms, and signs. One of the key identifying factors in depression is a change in mood, usually resulting in feelings of despondency and isolation.
Types of Depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that comprises two periods: depression and manic. Manic is characterized by periods of elevated mood while bipolar depression periods are characterized by common depression symptoms, including those discussed further below.
- Atypical Depression
- Atypical depression can result in varying moods. While the affected individual will display the key identifying feature of feeling depressed more days than not within two years (one year for adolescents), this mood can shift or become elevated in response to events or situations.
- Psychotic Depression
- Psychotic depression includes forms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, and requires hospitalization.
- Situational Depression
- Situational depression is an acute form of depression that occurs because of exposure to high-stress situations. It is also known as reactive depression.
What Is High Functioning Depression?
High functioning depression is a form of this disorder in which the body presents the keystone signs and symptoms of depression without severe impairment in day-to-day life.
Individuals with high functioning depression may be able to mask their symptoms, allowing them to live a relatively typical life in comparison to those not affected by the disorder.2 High functioning depression is also common in patients suffering from traumatic illnesses, such as cancer, as well as in neurodivergent patients.3
How It Differs from Other Types of Depression
Like other forms of mental illness, depression exists on a spectrum. As a result, some cases will be more or less severe than others, with differing levels of impairment in day-to-day life.
High functioning depression, while still an important and valid form of depression, is considered to be less severe in terms of impairment compared to other forms. With this form of depression, though the individual will still experience the various signs and symptoms, they are still able to function typically at least part of the time.
How to Diagnosis High Functioning Depression
Beck Depression Inventory
The Beck Depression Inventory is a depression test that involves answering a 21-item questionnaire that individuals can conduct themselves.
The ICD-10 depression test is a preliminary screening to help a certified health professional with diagnosis. Depression in ICD-10 is represented by a series of pre-determined answers that a health professional is trained to recognize and identify.
Signs of High Functioning Depression
The signs of high function depression can vary between individuals and may not manifest the same in children and teens as they would in adults. As a result, learning to recognize the signs across a variety of ages can be important in becoming familiar with the warning signs of high function depression.
Signs in Children and Teens
- Difficulty concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Academic difficulties
- Feeling hopeless or empty
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Loss of interest in family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixation on past failures
- Exaggerated self-criticism
- Trouble concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of death
Signs in Adults
For adults, signs of high functioning depression are similar to those in children and teens. They include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Sleep disturbances
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Memory issues
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
What Causes High Functioning Depression?
There are many possible causes of depression. Some of these include:
- Exposure to trauma
- Chemical imbalances
- Loss of loved one
Statistics on High Functioning Depression Rates
In the United States alone, nearly 7% of the population has been diagnosed with a form of depression. Women in their 30s are the most likely to be affected, but any demographic is at risk for developing depression at any given time.
The Connection Between Depression and Addiction
There is a well-established connection between depression and addiction due to a substantial overlap in causes as well as symptoms.4
Both conditions can cause the other. For many without access to healthcare, a substance use disorder stems from attempts to self-medicate to control depression and its symptoms. However, addiction – especially when substances stop entering the body and withdrawal symptoms begin – can cause depression.5
Treatment for High Functioning Depression
Counseling and psychotherapy can be beneficial tools in understanding the source and causes of depression while also aiding in the mind and body’s recovery process through positive reinforcement, coping skills, and new perspectives.
Depression medications are beneficial in the treatment of high functioning depression for many reasons. Depression medications can manage the signs and symptoms associated with depression. This management makes other forms of treatment more effective. Depression medications can also help regulate any affected brain chemicals.
Dual Diagnosis for SUD
When high functioning depression occurs because of a substance use disorder (and/or its withdrawal period), treating the disorder is a vital step in treating the depression. Dual diagnosis addresses the source while also aiding in the body’s recovery from depression symptoms.
Peer Support Groups
One of the consequences of depression is isolation since connecting with others may be difficult depending on the severity of signs and symptoms. As a result, peer support groups are one effective form of treatment as they encourage individuals with high functioning depression to reach out and form connections with others experiencing similar circumstances.
In peer support groups, individuals can share anecdotes as well as treatment options and coping mechanisms.