Your super energetic co-worker. Your perpetually happy friend. Your has-it-all-together cousin.
Any one of these people, who may seem perfectly happy with their lives, could be silently suffering from high-functioning depression and you wouldn’t even know it. People are really good at hiding their feelings from one another and putting on a brave face.
While it’s sad to think of friends and family suffering, it’s also comforting to know we’re not alone in this experience. There are others out there who understand what you’re feeling.
What is high-functioning depression?
According to AnnieWrightPsychotherapy.com, “High-functioning depression is a pop psychology term for what’s clinically known as dysthymia.” Dysthymia is a form of depression characterized by mild but long-term depressive symptoms. While it’s less severe than Major Depression, it can still have a profound impact on a person’s life, often lingering for weeks or never leaving at all.
Because you can go through the motions of daily life, you might convince yourself that everything is ok. High-functioning depression can feel confusing and misleading, making it hard to figure out if you should seek help. Just because you can get through the day doesn’t mean you should settle for less than your desired quality of life.
What are the signs of high-functioning depression?
There are many indicators of high-functioning depression. Some of the most common are:
- Lack of interest in life
- Lack of joy
- Substance abuse
- Addictive behaviors
- Social isolation
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Lack of energy
- Being overly self-critical
- Feeling numb
Being aware of these signs is important. They can vary widely in intensity and have different triggers for each person.
Seek out any information that may be able to help you prevent something more serious from developing. Please don’t ignore these feelings. There’s no need to hide them. The most important thing you can do is to reach out for help, so things don’t get worse.
How can high-functioning depression get worse?
I understand how hard it can be to take action in this situation. I’ve been where you are. The most important thing I can share with you, as someone who got her life back, is that you must take this seriously.
I ignored my high-functioning depression, and it got worse. Then it got A LOT worse. I kept eating poorly, drinking too much alcohol, not expressing emotions, and bottling up my stress. Looking back, you can see how depression causes actions that only create more mental illness.
Let’s look at some of these, so you will know how to work with high-functioning depression and hopefully even get rid of it.
The Emotional Level
We often get bottled up with emotions. If you are someone who has trouble expressing your feelings, standing up for yourself and speaking your peace, this may be a significant contributor to depression for you.
You have to move your emotions and keep things going. Exercise, talk about your feelings to someone you trust or do high-energy work. Do anything that will move energy through your body and keep it running. You don’t want depression to shut you down so keep going.
Additionally, stress plays a significant role in high-functioning depression. In our modern society, stress has a profound effect on our lives. We are expected to do more, produce more, wear more hats than ever before in the history of the human race.
Between work, societal and family pressures, it’s no wonder, so many of us struggle just to keep our heads above water. Humans were not meant to endure the amount of stress that we do in our current modern cultures. So while you’re trying to keep your energy up to combat the depression, please don’t mistake that for activities that stress you out too much emotionally. There’s a delicate balance that you must continuously monitor.
The Spiritual Level
No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, there’s no doubt that your spiritual well-being, or lack thereof, can affect your mental health. Deep healing takes place at the soul, or spiritual, level. Each religion or spiritual path may have different ways of healing these issues, but they all have practices that address spiritual struggles and crises.
Does your religious or spiritual belief path offer support for your depression struggles? It may be a good idea to pursue them in an attempt to find some relief.
The Physical Level
There are many things you can explore to find where imbalance lies in the body. Perhaps the most important changes you can make are dietary ones. It’s crucial to determine which foods are causing inflammation in your system and remove them.
Inflammation is a serious cause of and contributor to depression. If left undealt with, you are slowly feeding a fire day after day. The immune system can only play fireman for so long before more negative things start to happen as a result.
Lab testing can help determine if there is an underlying physical imbalance that is causing the symptoms you are experiencing. In some cases, an out of whack thyroid, tired adrenals, imbalanced hormones, or vitamin/mineral deficiencies can cause symptoms that look just like depression.
On a mental level, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can help you work with your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes relating to your feelings and struggles. It’s a practice that reins in a mind that feels out of your control.
Your Body Seeks Balance
Fighting depression is often about how you reconnect to your body, mind, and soul. In its infinite wisdom, your body/mind is always seeking balance. Each symptom that it presents to you is a message, an invitation to be still and listen to what it has to say. It may be hard to slow down and listen to this message, but THIS is how you stop high-functioning depression from becoming something worse.
Do you experience high-functioning depression? Has anything you’ve tried been helpful? Let’s chat about it in the Sad Runner Community!
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