I have struggled with depression since I was a kid. Looking back it’s the first hint that something was wrong with my mental health. I was constantly sad and had low self-esteem and struggled to do basic things. However, at the same time I always came across as an energetic, happy, bubbly kid. I’d frequently put on a mask to hide how I really felt and this led me to my high-functioning depression. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with depression until College when I could no longer keep up my walls to keep people out. I had blocked so much of the depression out that I didn’t even know I was struggling with depression.
It’s possible to look for signs of depression even if you have high-functioning depression.
Here are 7 Signs that might mean you’re suffering from high-functioning depression:
1. You Feel Like an Imposter
Do you often feel one way but act a different way? Do you feel sad and fatigued but externally present a more bubbly, productive, and happy demeanor?
If you do, chances are you’re masking your depression so that you can still function even when depression is trying to take over your mind and body. Depression can be tricky and it can sneak up on you. Chances are if you have high-functioning depression your also hyper vigilant in masking it and pushing on ahead.
When I was in college I was working, competing in Division III sports, and taking a heavy pre-med course load all while coping with depression. I had to be high-functioning to take on all of the work I did. But it took years of working to manage my depression, without me knowing that was what I was doing, for me to be able to handle such a load in college. But it didn’t last forever. Eventually my depression persisted and I caved.
2. You’ve gotten used to not sleeping through the night or oversleeping at night
Depression messes with a lot of critical functions our bodies power through every day. One of them is sleep. Do you find yourself not sleeping at night? Do you wake up still exhausted? Do you oversleep during the day and wake up late? Do you sleep through classes or work because you’re just so tired?
Any of these symptoms can be an indicator that you’re dealing with depression. Depression frequently affects sleep in people. And it may be harder to maintain your level of high function on limited sleep. With depression, your ability to get out of bed and go to work every day is greatly diminished.
3. You have a hard time concentrating or making decisions
One way high-functioning depressed people struggle is to pay attention during the day or making decisions. It can be difficult to pay attention if you’re sleepy from a lack of sleep at night or if you’re drowning in your feelings during the day it can be hard to see past them. Frequently getting lost in thought or zoning out could be your depression seeping through the cracks.
4. Your good days don’t feel like good days, they feel like “normal” days
When I was in the depths of my depression I constantly felt like I was slogging along to make things happen. I always seemed upbeat on the outside but inside I was struggling to make things happen. And on my “good days” my life felt normal. It felt more stable. Instead of feeling like I had 10,000 weights on my back it felt like I could breathe but not good enough that I was jumping up and down or feeling capable of taking on too much. I got normal days but not good or great days.
I always seemed upbeat on the outside but inside I was struggling to make things happen. And on my “good days” my life felt normal. It felt more stable. Instead of feeling like I had 10,000 weights on my back it felt like I could breathe but not good enough that I was jumping up and down or feeling capable of taking on too much. I got normal days but not good or great days.
5. Your daily routine requires a lot of energy and little tasks feel like huge mountains
Getting through the day and doing our best is extremely hard when we’re suffering from depression. Little things can be even harder. People with high-functioning depression expect so much more of themselves that struggling with little things seems silly but is still very much a fact.
“People who aren’t depressed cannot understand how much energy it can take for us to get up, shower and get out the door,” Kati Morton said. “Many people with high-functioning depression report that they feel exhausted by the time they even make it into work or to that event they said they would go to.”
6. Asking for help seems impossible
When it’s already a monumental task to get through the day and take care of basic hygiene, work, and meals how can you find the energy to go to therapy or find a support group? It can be exhausting. But people with high-functioning depression most often want to find that connection and happiness in their life. They’re tired of feeling depressed and pushing through it every day all day. So asking for help is critical. Asking for help is the best way to move toward a more fulfilling and rewarding life.