What is High Functioning Depression?

Published on
November 11, 2022

Your alarm wakes you up at 6:00 a.m. you slowly roll out of bed. 

You look at your phone and sigh. “Great, another day.” You think bitterly in your head. 

You wipe the sleep from your eyes, hop in the shower and get lost in your morning routine as you get ready to head to your job. Work passes in a blur; you engage in casual conversations with your coworkers and do as much work as your mental energy will allow. After work, you stop at Starbucks for a caffeine boost and then head to your local library to study for your upcoming midterms. Some of the lecture material is memorable, but most of it has gone in one ear and out the other.  You just can’t seem to focus.

Your friend texts you to see if you want to go out for dinner, you know you should say yes, since it’s been a few weeks since you’ve seen them. Instead, you respond to the message with a selfie and the caption “studying hard”. You miss your friend, you want to hang out with them, but for some reason you’re just not interested. 

You check the time and its 6:00 p.m., it’s a little earlier than normal, but you’re ready to go to sleep. Although it was just a regular day, today felt draining. You lay in your bed, staring up at the ceiling. 

Today was fine, nothing went wrong but something feels off. You’re successful, you’re working hard in school, you have friends who want to hang out with you, but there’s this small thing that you can’t quite name that’s causing you to feel exhausted. It’s almost as if every little thing takes mental gymnastics, but at the same time… you’re perfectly fine. 

You decide to google your symptoms and feelings and you come across a blog post on Mendu that tells you that you may be experiencing high functioning depression. 

So, what is high functioning depression? How is it different from clinical depression, and what are some ways to cope with it?

High functioning depression is not a clinical diagnosis. Since it is not clinically recognized by experts, the definition may vary. For those who resonate with the term “high functioning” depression, it may look like and feel like having depression and experiencing symptoms inwardly, without it being obvious to others. It may also feel like you’re living a seemingly “normal life” because the severity of the depression does not disturb your everyday life and relationships with others. High functioning depression may be a little more subtle than clinical depression with similar attributes like shifts in sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness, small changes in diet. 

Clinical depression is a common mental disorder that is characterized by continuous sadness and lack of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities. Depression can heavily affect the quality of someone’s life by impacting someone’s sleep habits as well as their appetites. It can also lead to physical problems like head and stomach aches which can cause trouble in your everyday life Depression does not discriminate and can affect anyone. 

For both high functioning and clinical depression treatment can include psychological and pharmaceutical interventions like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications. Some other coping mechanisms include journaling, finding hobbies that can help to build community, and incorporating exercise into your daily life. 

Depression symptoms:

Feelings of sadness/hopelessness

Frustration over small matters

Sleep disturbance (too much too little)

Lack of energy

Increase/decrease appetite, weight gain/loss

Suicidal thoughts

Unexplained physical issues

Trouble thinking. Focusing

Modified on
November 3, 2022