Counseling 101: High Functioning Depression

Depression tremendously affects people’s lives by minimizing their interest in everything. It creates a negative impact on social interaction with family and friends as well. Fortunately, not all depression locks people in isolation. There are some cases that it leaves people active even if they are experiencing the mental disorder. And as soon as they’re done with their everyday responsibilities, they withdraw themselves from everything around them. This scenario is what they call high functioning depression.

Laura Strom, LMFT said “Clinical depression” is a term often used to refer to one or more types of serious depressive disorders that may occur with or without the presence of a specific stressor.”


How It Affects Lives

  • There’s a constant criticism to one’s self when someone is suffering from high functioning depression. Though the trait is also present when having clinical depression, the failure makes it different. There is a high expectation that pushes someone’s limit. As a result, it affects the state of mind. Everything feels not enough and the more they aim for something beneficial for them, the more they get frustrated in not getting it.


  • People who often experience high functioning depression feel misunderstood. It is as if every reason is invalid and every argument is an excuse. And since most people with this mental disorder can maintain responsibilities, others see them differently. That’s because they don’t act like typical depressed persons. As a result, nobody asks if they are okay. The worst part is, no one thinks they need help, so they continue living their lives as if they don’t care. But the truth is, they are hoping that someone would be kind enough to notice that they are genuinely in pain.


According to Colleen Mullen, PsyD, LMFT, “Depression and sadness are not the same thing.”


  • It doesn’t matter if the situation is small or big. People with high functioning depression overthink. As a result, it eventually breaks them down. It hinders them from doing the right thing and sometimes makes them question what they are capable of doing. In some unfortunate events, even if they try so hard to address personal issues, it still results in asking, “What have I done?” People with high functioning depression may be able to identify their priorities, but they don’t know what to do about them.


  • People with high functioning depression are concerned with time. However, even if they are achieving their task and consistently completing their goals, they still feel that what they do is a waste of time. Everything feels empty even if they find a new hobby. They have this sense of emotional detachment to what they do that’s why they think of it as a worthless activity. The intense feeling grows every time they attempt to indulge in a different life engagement.


  • High functioning depression makes people create unhealthy coping strategies. Some of them are overworking and sometimes becoming drug and alcohol dependent. Many people with this mental disorder deal with stressful situations by turning themselves into self-destructive habits. Though the purpose of these wrongdoings is to clear their minds off of their emotional pain, it doesn’t keep them safe from physical and mental dysfunctions. In some devastating circumstances, they even attempt and consider suicide.


According to Dezryelle Arcieri, LMFT, “Many people stop feeling like themselves after experiencing a major life event or major role change.”


Any depression can ruin people’s lives. Though some of them say they’re going to make it, it is still impossible to get through it without professional counseling. They might find it too late if they won’t consider asking for help as soon as possible.