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Recognizing High-Functioning Depression

a person leans against a couch while recognizing high functioning depression

The most widespread depressive illness in the U.S. is major depression. This illness severely impacts your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. However, some people have a more high-functioning form of depression. The name for this condition is persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia. Although dysthymia is less severe than major depression, it can still seriously impact your mental health. For this reason, it’s essential to know how to recognize its potential effects. It’s also important to know that a depression treatment program can help you recover from any depressive illness.

Basics of High-Functioning Depression

Persistent depressive disorder is also known as the shorthand PDD. People with this disorder have less severe forms of classic depression symptoms, such as:

  • Frequent or constant feelings of sadness
  • A sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Disrupted or altered sleep patterns
  • Changes in body weight triggered by changes in appetite
  • Problems concentrating, making decisions, or thinking clearly
  • Unusual fatigue

Since these symptoms are relatively mild, affected people can still remain functional in many ways. Nevertheless, they experience a notable decline in their mental health. This is true, in large part, because of the lingering effects of PDD. At a minimum, the condition lasts for two years. In addition, all affected people have at least two depression symptoms.

Recognizing High-Functioning Depression

It can be hard to detect signs of PDD. The disorder produces the same kinds of symptoms as major depression. However, since these symptoms are not as severe, they often go unnoticed. Even people affected by this form of depression may not be aware of what’s happening to them.

Still, you can look for telltale signs. One potential indicator is the length of time that PDD lingers. People with major depression tend to experience fairly brief bouts of their symptoms. However, by definition, people with PDD feel down for years at a time. If you have PDD, you may also experience bouts of major depression. The presence of these episodes can alert you and your doctor to the underlying issue of longer-term depression symptoms.

Doctors detect PDD by conducting a mental health exam and checking your medical history. The exam assesses your current level of health. Your medical history can help reveal potential signs of PDD in the past.

Other Types of Depression

You may also be affected by other types of depression besides PDD or classic major depression. The full list of depressive illnesses includes:

  • Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD
  • Psychotic depression
  • Postpartum depression

All of these illnesses are actually major depression subtypes. However, they have unique symptoms and may arise only in specific situations. For example, SAD typically occurs in the winter or summer. Psychotic depression is major depression with added symptoms of psychosis. Postpartum depression occurs in women who have recently given birth.

Depressive illnesses have one thing in common: They are treatable. The right course of treatment varies from condition to condition and from person to person. However, a customized care plan can help you recover no matter your circumstances.

Understanding and Managing High-Functioning Depression

Recognizing high-functioning depression is crucial, as its subtler signs and symptoms can often be overlooked, leading individuals to suffer in silence. High-functioning depression, while not as debilitating as major depression on the surface, still significantly impacts one’s quality of life. The manifestations of high-functioning depression signs may include a persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness, yet still managing to fulfill professional and personal responsibilities. Symptoms of high-functioning depression also entail low energy, persistent fatigue despite adequate sleep, and a general lack of interest in activities once found enjoyable.

Understanding what is high functioning depression involves recognizing the paradox within it – the ability to appear fine or even successful outwardly while internally struggling with significant emotional pain. Individuals may experience:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulties in maintaining relationships
  • A harsh inner critic

The challenge lies in the fact that people with high-functioning depression are often able to maintain their usual activities, making it harder for them and others to acknowledge the seriousness of their condition.

It’s essential for both individuals and their loved ones to be aware of these signs and symptoms. Recognizing them is the first step towards seeking help and managing the condition effectively. Therapy, lifestyle changes, and sometimes medication are part of a comprehensive treatment approach that can lead to improved mental health and well-being.

Get Help for High-Functioning Depression at Northpoint Colorado

If you or your loved one are affected by persistent depressive disorder, Northpoint Colorado can help. We specialize in treating PDD in people also affected by drug or alcohol problems. The care we provide will help you address both issues. Doing so provides the support you need to make a lasting recovery.

Many people undergo treatment at our inpatient facility, but you may also benefit from one of our outpatient programs. Call today at 888.231.1281 or fill out our online information form to learn more about our PDD recovery options.