7 Telltale Signs You Have High Functioning Depression

Many people experience high functioning depression, a form of depression that receives less attention. It’s made up of people who are able to maintain a successful and functional appearance to the outside world while also keeping up with their daily responsibilities.


High functioning depression is a type of depression that isn’t as well-known but still affects many people. It comprises people who can keep up with daily tasks and responsibilities and look successful and functional to the outside world. But on the inside, they struggle with persistent signs of depression that can greatly affect their emotional health. Even though they can function, people with high-functioning depression often feel sad, empty, and like their lives aren’t worth living. This article talks about the signs and symptoms of high-functioning depression. It explains this condition, which is often misunderstood, and stresses the importance of getting help and support to improve mental health.

What is High Functioning Depression?

High-functioning depression, also called a persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia, is a type of depression in which people can carry on with their daily lives and appear successful, even though they feel sad, hopeless, and like they don’t get anything out of life. People with high-functioning depression often hide their inner struggles, making it hard for others to see that they are depressed. Even though people with high-functioning depression may seem fine on the outside, they are still going through a lot of emotional pain and can benefit from the right kind of support and treatment.

What Are the Signs of High Functioning Depression?

High functioning depression symptoms may look different from regular depression, making it hard to spot. But here are some common signs:

  • Persistent sadness: People can feel deep and long-lasting sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, even if they look fine outside.
  • Masking emotions: People with high-functioning depression may go to great lengths to hide their inner turmoil, acting happy and normal in social situations.
  • Overachieving: They may do too much work or other things to distract themselves from their emotional pain or to prove to themselves and others that they are valuable.
  • Self-criticism: People with high-functioning depression tend to be very hard on themselves. They have an inner voice that always puts down their accomplishments and makes them feel like they are not good enough.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Even if they look like they have it all together, they may feel tired, overwhelmed, and mentally worn out from constantly fighting their depressive symptoms.
  • Social withdrawal: They may stop talking to other people and stay alone, either because they feel ashamed or don’t have the energy to interact with others.
  • Physical symptoms: People with high-functioning depression can also have headaches, stomach problems, tiredness, and changes in how much they eat or sleep.

Depression Fact Sheet

  • Definition: Depression is a common mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and functions daily.
  • Prevalence: Depression is a global health concern, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Symptoms: Common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbances, low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Risk Factors: Depression can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, trauma, chronic medical conditions, certain medications, substance abuse, and significant life events such as loss or relationship problems. Women may be at a higher risk due to hormonal fluctuations, reproductive events, and societal pressures.
  • Impact: Depression can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, affecting their relationships, work or school performance, physical health, and overall well-being. It can also increase the risk of other health problems, including cardiovascular diseases.
  • Treatment: Depression is a treatable condition. Treatment options may include psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), medication (such as antidepressants), or a combination of both. Lifestyle modifications, social support, and self-care practices are essential to manage depression.
  • Breaking the Stigma: Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a medical condition that requires understanding, compassion, and support. By promoting open conversations, raising awareness, and challenging stigmas associated with mental health, we can create a more supportive environment for individuals affected by depression.

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Statistics About High-Functioning Depression

Depression is a common mental illness that affects millions of people all over the world. By looking at the most important depression statistics, we can learn much about how common, harmful, and important this disorder is. These numbers show that more people need to know about depression, that early help is important, and that people with depression need support systems.

21 million

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) than males (6.2%).

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

7 Telltale Signs You Have High-Functioning Depression

Are you constantly pushing yourself to succeed, but deep down, you feel a persistent sadness that just won’t go away? You may be dealing with high-functioning depression. It’s a form of depression that often goes unnoticed because those affected seem to have it all together on the surface. Behind that smile and apparent success, however, lies a different story. Here are seven telltale signs to watch for:

  1. The lingering sadness: Even though you may appear fine to others, there’s a persistent sadness deep within you that never seems to fade away.
  2. The mask you wear: You’ve become a master at hiding your emotions. You put on a brave face and project happiness, but inside, you’re struggling.
  3. The overachiever syndrome: You pour yourself into work or other activities, constantly striving for perfection to distract yourself from the emotional pain and prove your worth.
  4. The self-critical voice: You’re your worst critic, always berating yourself for not being good enough. It’s a constant battle with your thoughts.
  5. The exhaustion that lingers: You often feel mentally and emotionally drained despite your achievements. It’s like carrying a heavy burden that others can’t see.
  6. The withdrawal from others: You find yourself avoiding social interactions out of shame or because you lack the energy to engage with others. You feel isolated.
  7. The physical toll: High-functioning depression can also affect your body. You may experience headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

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How to Manage High-Functioning Depression

It can be difficult to manage high-functioning depression, but there are things you can do to help yourself. The following are some methods for coping with high-functioning depression:

  • Get some expert advice: Get in touch with a mental health expert who can diagnose you and help you figure out how to treat your condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of therapy that has shown promise in alleviating depressive symptoms.
  • Set up a backbone: Create a safety net of people who will always have your back. If you need someone to listen to you and provide some emotional support, talk to some close friends or family members.
  • Make self-care a top priority by including it in your regular schedule. Do things that make you happy and calm down, like walking, playing an instrument, spending time in nature, or meditating. Eat healthily, get plenty of sleep, and don’t overdo it on drugs or alcohol to keep your body functioning at peak performance.
  • Don’t let your quest for perfection get in the way of setting reasonable goals and standards for yourself. Understand your limitations and accept them without condemning yourself.
  • Do what you can to deal with stress healthily; try breathing exercises, journaling, becoming more mindful, or practicing relaxation techniques. Find ways to relax and unwind to alleviate stress.
  • Learn to say “no” when appropriate, and do what you must to protect your mental and emotional health by establishing limits for yourself. It’s crucial to put one’s requirements first and refrain from taking on too much.
  • Keep checking your stress levels by dividing your time between work, friends, and yourself. Schedule time for things that make you happy and fulfill your outside work.

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for your health as a whole. It gives you a safe place to talk about and solve the problems at the root of your depression.

  • Medication: Sometimes, depressive symptoms can be helped by taking medicine. Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help keep chemicals in the brain in balance and relieve depression symptoms. Talking to a doctor or nurse is important to determine if a medication is right for you.
  • Lifestyle changes: Making positive changes can greatly help with high-functioning depression. This includes regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, prioritizing sleep, reducing stress, and not drinking or using drugs too much.
  • Support groups: Joining a support group or going to group therapy can help you feel like you are part of a community and are understood. Meeting people who have been through similar things can be a great source of support and encouragement.
  • Mind-body techniques: Adding yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness practices to your daily routine can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and make you feel better.
  • Self-care practices: Doing things for yourself that help you relax, feel happy, and be kind to yourself can be helpful. This could mean hobbies, leisure time in nature, thinking about yourself, or creativity.

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  1. Is high functioning depression real?

    Yes, there is such a thing as “high-functioning depression.” It refers to people with signs of depression who can still take care of their daily tasks and look like they are functioning. People with high-functioning depression often do well at work or school, maintain social relationships, and do regular activities, even though they struggle inside.

    People with high-functioning depression may hide their symptoms and present a “put-together” image to the outside world, making it hard to spot. But it’s important to know that even if someone seems fine outside, they may have serious emotional and mental health problems.

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8 Steps for Mental Wellbeing & How To Improve Mental Health In The Workplace

  • Staying Positive
  • Practicing Gratitude
  • Taking Care of Your Physical Health
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  • Developing a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
  • Developing Coping Skills
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation Techniques

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Search We Level Up WA 7 Telltale Signs You Have High Functioning Depression Mental Health Topics & Resources
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