high-functioning depression can be hidden in a person who seems to be on the positive front

A Hidden Pain: Signs of High-Functioning Depression

Depression can manifest symptoms ranging from severe to mild. However, a less prominent form of depression doesn’t mean that it can’t have serious impacts on your life.

If you are living with untreated high-functioning depression, chances are that your days often leave you exhausted and emotionally bottomed out. While you’re able to put on a positive front to get through a day at the office or a family gathering, the moment you are alone the sadness starts to creep in. You feel empty, despite recognising the good that’s around you. You may often wonder what’s wrong.

High-functioning depression is usually difficult to diagnose because those who are living with it have been accustomed to masking it in an attempt to cope, and don’t display some of the symptoms of more severe depression such as absence of motivation, hopelessness, extreme sadness, and suicidal thoughts. However, high-functioning depression is still a form of clinical depression, and is typically very responsive to treatment. Understanding the signs of high-functioning depression can help you know what is at the root of your struggles, and determine whether you could benefit from professional care.

Sign 1: You Don’t Feel Like You’re Being True to How You Really Feel

Generally people with high-functioning depression have a clear sense that something isn’t right, even though they may be unsure of exactly what that something is. This feeling is underscored by a drive to “fake it until you make it,” which can be both emotionally and physically exhausting as you’re constantly pushing yourself past your natural limits. You may also feel frustrated with yourself for being unable to simply get past your feelings, or frustrated with others’ inability to realise that you are actually struggling.

Sign 2: Good Days are Okay, Bad Days are Terrible

Depression is linked to several causes, some of which are biological in nature and affect the levels of key neurotransmitters and chemicals in the brain which impact mood. These chemical interactions play a major role in why your bad days are so much more acute than someone who isn’t struggling with depression. You might fight with yourself to get out of bed in the morning, find social interactions painful, and experience very low motivation.  On these days, your inner feelings and self-judgements will be almost wholly negative, and you may experience self-doubt and anxiety.

Sign 3: Happy Times Can’t Chase Away the Sadness

Whether you are dealing with a mild or a severe form of depression, you will experience persistent periods of sadness not necessarily triggered by any external occurrence. This is why even good days will always have at least a tinge of melancholy, and why you feel unable to just “snap out of it.” People living with high-functioning depression often experience a barrage of emotions in their daily lives, and you might also regularly experience feelings like:

  • Persistent self-criticism
  • Need for perfection
  • Difficulty resting or handling free time
  • Guilt or worry about past or upcoming events
  • Acute stress over small issues

Sign 4: You Often Struggle to Focus

You are a productive employee with an outstanding work ethic, but internally you are working overtime to try and maintain your focus on a project. High-functioning depression can impact your ability to keep your attention on a task, and so you may find yourself having to constantly redirect yourself back, ultimately taking a longer time to finish. The irony of high-functioning depression is while this reality is probably pushing you to the brink of your energy levels, your colleagues likely have no idea what is going on.

Sign 5: You’ve Had a Major Depressive Episode at Some Point

Though not every person living with high-functioning depression will have a major depressive episode, it is possible that you may have experienced one at some point in your life. This is a period where depression became severe and overwhelming, and you may have been unable to work, attend events, or even get out of bed. People who are in a major depressive episode will likely feel extreme negative emotions such as despair, guilt, or hopelessness. These periods generally last for a minimum of two weeks before they start to ease.

Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

It is not unusual for depression to manifest in various vague but uncomfortable physical ailments. In addition to these signs, you may also be noticing some physical symptoms of depression as well, which can include:

  • Low energy levels, fatigue, and exhaustion
  • Chronic backache
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Digestive problems
  • Increased sensitivity to pain

Pain and discomfort is another way our brain sends signals to our body that something isn’t right. If you’ve been noticing signs and symptoms of high-functioning depression in your life, it may be time to consider professional treatment.

What to Do About High-Functioning Depression

When you struggle with high-functioning depression, you feel as though you are often struggling with life. The energy you put into maintaining productivity and a positive exterior leaves you totally drained, and can impact your ability to form close relationships or perform to your fullest ability. Additionally, having a high-functioning form of depression does not preclude a risk of physical harm, including suicidal thoughts.

Therefore, if you think you may be struggling with high-functioning depression, it is critical to seek outside support. Mental health professionals will be able to help you identify ways to improve your condition and live a happier, fuller life. 

Coming Out of the Dark at The Dawn

The Dawn Thailand is the best sanctuary to heal your past trauma.

At The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand, we work with many clients struggling with various forms of depression. Our residential depression retreat  with round-the-clock medical and professional care allows you to get the treatment that you need in a safe, supportive environment.

When you arrive, our compassionate, Western-trained staff will work closely with you to design a treatment plan that fits your unique needs. Our signature Mental Wellness Programme is designed to ensure that you:

  • Feel better almost immediately
  • Gain a deeper understanding of your depression and its causes
  • Learn skills to better manage your depression

The Dawn uses a holistic “Twin Pillars” approach to treatment, which seamlessly combines effective psychotherapeutic techniques such as Cognitive-Based Therapy (CBT) and group therapy, with proven Eastern wellness practices such as mindful meditation, yoga, art therapy, and fitness training. We also offer cutting-edge therapies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive, FDA-approved method targeted towards those who are resistant to anti-depressant medication.

 A Depression Retreat in Thailand

Located just outside the scenic city of Chiang Mai and licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Dawn provides a serene environment where you can relax and heal far away from the stressors of daily life at home. Our riverside locale overlooks verdant rice fields and lush gardens, and our facility boasts a wide variety of amenities including a swimming pool, fitness centre, and yoga and meditation studio. You will feel safe and comfortable and able to fully focus on your health and wellness.

There’s no need to continue struggling silently. The Dawn can help you learn not just to cope, but to live life to the very fullest. Call us today to learn more about our programme.

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