Could Someone You Love Be Struggling with High-Functioning Depression?
It is no secret that depression can be devastating.
Symptoms of major depressive disorder can include physical and emotional exhaustion, loss of motivation, and a pervasive sense of overwhelming hopelessness. People who suffer from this disorder may find it extremely difficult to get out of bed and get through the day, and it is unfortunately understandable how major depression can lead to suicide.
But this degree of crushing impact isn’t the only way that depression can undermine a person’s ability to live a healthy and productive life. Many people who struggle with depression experience lower-level symptoms that exert an ongoing negative pressure that diminishes but does not eradicate their ability to function in a healthy, productive, and satisfying manner.
Known in clinical terms as “persistent depressive disorder,” this form of depression may go unnoticed for years or even decades. Many high-functioning individuals struggle with persistent depressive disorder without even realizing that they have a problem.
However, the cumulative impact of persistent depressive disorder can be significant, dramatic, and eventually – just like major depression — devastating.
Three common signs of high-functioning depression
Difficulty experiencing joy
Persistent depressive disorder prevents a person from experiencing sustained joy, even when things are going well. A promotion, a success at work, the start of a new relationship – a person who has persistent depressive disorder may experience a slight mood improvement due to these experiences, but this happiness will be muted and temporary.
People who have persistent depressive disorder will often find it difficult to muster the energy that they need to get through the day. As indicated by the term “high-performing,” these people will usually push through to accomplish what needs to get done, but the effort rarely comes easy.
Energy-wise, struggling with persistent depressive disorder can feel like trying to run in sand. Even when the individual summons what ample energy and focus to complete a task, achieving the objective can be feel like it is more difficult than it should be.
No matter what they accomplish, people who have persistent depressive disorder will almost invariably doubt their talents, skills, and capabilities. And no matter how hard they work, they will rarely if ever be satisfied by either their effort or their results.
Even being recognized, rewarded, and/or complimented by others can be turned into a negative, as the depression may cause the individual to believe that he or she is being duplicitous by accepting what is obviously “misguided” praise.
A better way
In modern American society, we have a tendency to praise people who push through exhaustion, refuse to be satisfied, and fail to acknowledge their accomplishments. We describe them admiringly as being tireless, dedicated, and humble. What we often fail to recognize is that these people are also depressed.
If this sounds like someone you care about, please know that help is available, that treatment works, and that overcoming depression will not rob a person of the drive and dedication that enabled them to accomplish so much.
Struggling with high-functioning depression is akin to running a race while wearing a weighted vest. Even if the person wins, he or she will have been prevented from achieving to his or her greatest potential.
With effective treatment, the depressed individual can finally discover how far, how fast, and how joyfully he or she can truly run.