Signs of High Functioning Depression

Have you ever heard of someone who is depressed but yet acts as if they’re not? They may be suffering from high functioning depression. This article breaks down what it is and what it looks like.

Identifying high-functioning depression can be a very challenging thing. A person who is diagnosed as high-functioning depressive, can in many ways, continue to live their life as if they were not depressed. In some cases, it may appear that a person’s life is even better then a person who is expected to have a mood disorder.

This can be particularly important for people who are high intellectuals, people in positions of power, straight A students, and and/or busy moms. There is no one single definition for the type of person who can be classified as high functioning depressed, because they appear to be just fine. That makes identifying this particular form of depression, even more challenging.

Nonetheless, a high functioning depressed person has many of the symptoms that a regularly depressed person has, except that they’re able to live life (at least externally) as if they don’t have depression.

Here are some symptoms of high functioning depressed people:

  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Feeling sad and hopeless

Here are some examples of what a high-functioning depressed person might be struggling with.

People with high functioning depression will appreciate their work environments differently then those who are not, because their work serves as a means for coping with their depressive symptoms. Unlike most people, high functioning depressive people thrive in atmospheres that force them to achieve. Therefore, their work related performance, may often supersede the norm, because not only is this person likely to be really good at what they do anyway, but the need to separate from their feelings of depression will become a motivator for continued success.

The saying that “ it’s lonely at the top,” resonates very well with a high functioning depressive person.  Because high functioning depressive people tend to strive and accomplish things at high levels, their peers are often unable to keep up. Therefore, the high functioning depressive person is not only charged with challenges associated with whatever lead them into depression, but the depression often gets reinforced by the loneliness that they feel by being in a high functioning category all by themselves.

No one understands loneliness, like a high functioning, depressive person. Because the skills that are necessary for the work environment often conflict with the skills necessary for interpersonal relationships, high functioning depressive people are often very lonely. Their interpersonal skills are often challenged because most work environments require a different type of communicative and leadership ability. Therefore highly functioning depressive people struggle to take off their “work-related performance hats,” and  either struggle with developing relationships, or develop relationships that are void of true intimacy.

High function depression is no less serious than regular depression. If you, or let you know is struggling with high-functioning depression,


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