You likely have an image in your head as to what someone with depression looks like. Maybe they're struggling to get out of bed, not taking care of themselves, or spending time alone. You wouldn't necessarily be wrong, as those can be signs of depression, but high-functioning depression, like other high-functioning conditions, doesn't often resemble the picture in your mind's eye all that closely. There are, however, signs you have high-functioning depression, which you may want to keep an eye out.
High-functioning depression is often hiding in plain sight. It's possible you don't even realize you have the condition, because you don't think you look like that image of depression that you summoned in your head. "People with high-functioning depression don't often exhibit the same impairment as people with major depression, so it's hard for others to recognize that they're depressed," licensed clinical social worker Sepideh Saremi tells Romper in an email. "They're usually able to perform just fine at work and school, and can maintain friendships. But they are still struggling with feelings of hopelessness and low mood, and it can be just as distressing as major depression."
If these signs of high-functioning depression look familiar to you, talk to a qualified therapist, counselor, or healthcare professional. They will be able to help you with your depression or refer you to someone else who can. Whether it's full-blown clinical depression or sneaky high-functioning depression, always remember that you're not alone.
1. You Overthink Things
If you find yourself constantly overthinking every decision, be it large or small, that might be a sign that you're dealing with high-functioning depression. "All forms of depression are held in place by excessive, negative mental musings and negative self-talk," Rita Milios, psychotherapist and an expert author for Pro Corner on Recovery.org tells Romper by email. "This kind of mental dialogue is less severe than that which causes a person to consider suicide, or to withdraw from the public. Nonetheless, it's damaging to their self-esteem and negatively affects their mood." Constantly worrying that you'll misstep can really drag you down.
2. You Have Periods Of Happiness
No one is happy all the time, but if you're generally sad with spurts of happiness and energy, you might not be doing as well as you think you are. In an email exchange with Romper, licensed clinical social work supervisor Shannon Thomas says that during these periods of time, someone with high-functioning depression can even fool themselves into thinking that everything is just fine.
3. You're Struggling With Sleep
There are so many things that can impact your sleep, but if you're struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, you might not consider that it could actually be high-functioning depression. Psychotherapist Dana Carretta tells Romper by email that changes to your sleep routine, which can't otherwise be explained, could be a sign that something else is happening.
4. You're Sad, But You Don't Know Why
Everyone deals with bouts of sadness, occasionally even for reasons beyond explanation. But if you're generally feeling sad most of the time and aren't entirely sure why, it could be a sign of high-functioning depression, according to The Mighty. It may not be enough to keep you in bed or disrupt your daily functioning, but it can make you feel heavy and really wear you down.
5. You Try To Avoid Social Situations
That extraordinarily long week at work may leave you spending Friday night on the couch from time to time, but if you find yourself routinely avoiding social settings, there might be something else going on. Psychologist Dr. Crystal I. Lee tells Romper by email that if there's a change — you used to be the life of the party and now you're avoiding texts and phone calls to make plans — that could be an indication that you have high-functioning depression.
6. You Think Everyday Feels Like A Grind
Everyone has those days, right? The ones where you wake up in the morning already dreading what's to come. Ryan Potter, the director of clinical development at Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Romper via email that it's common for people with high-functioning depression to begin to feel this way everyday. Sure, it may be a temporary stretch of difficult days, but if daily life starts to feel like a chore, it may be time to speak with someone about it.
7. You're Losing Interest In Sex
If you and your partner once had a healthy sex life, but you're no longer interested, it could be a sign that all is not well, as clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly tells Romper by email. Sure, it could be a "dry spell," but it could also be something more all-encompassing.
8. You Sweat The Small Stuff
In an email exchange with Romper, therapist Kimberly Hershenson says, "if you find yourself upset or stressed out over something that normally wouldn't have bothered you such as a friend rescheduling lunch plans and it feels like your world is collapsing rather then a life annoyance, this may be another sign [of high-functioning depression]." Little things like cancelled plans or an event or task that doesn't go just so shouldn't send you into a tailspin. If they do, there's likely something else going on.
9. You Feel Guilty, Worried, Or Regretful
Like overthinking, regretting, worrying, or feeling guilty about decisions you've made in the past can weigh you down and make you feel completely exhausted. According to the aforementioned article from The Mighty, these feelings are worrisome if they start to take over. It's normal to feel sad, worried, or guilty from time to time, but if that's how you feel most of the time, it may be a sign that you have high-functioning depression.