First, you may be asking: what is high-functioning depression? Do you think of someone that mopes around all day and can’t get anything done? How about someone that can barely get out of bed or take care of themselves? Usually, high-functioning depression does not look like the stereotype but leaving it untreated can pose significant problems for you and your loved ones. Bright, successful, driven people that appear to excel in all aspects of their lives can be high-functioning depressives.

I think we should understand what high-functioning depression is and how to cope with it.

There are unique risks associated with going undiagnosed. You and your loved ones can try to get help once you identify your symptoms with a professional and identify that you may, in fact, suffer from this form of depression.

What is high-functioning depression?

Experts indicate that the definition of “high-functioning depression” is difficult to sort out, much like several other aspects of mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association does not even define this concept; but, it is a very real phenomenon to individuals that struggle daily.

If you look at high-functioning depression clinically, it is indicative of general compression and coping, combined with controlled periods of decompression.

So, a person may seem very productive: a hard worker, and appear to have their life together. Once they are alone—maybe in their bathroom or office—they may suffer from emotional outbursts, suicidal thoughts, somatic expression (physical pains such as headaches, panic attacks, hives, or gastrointestinal upset) controlled Substance Abuse, rigid structuring of social or work activities, and instability or lack in socializing.

It can be so hard on loved ones.

Today, I will walk you through five ways that will assist you in identifying if you are coping with high-functioning depression. If these look familiar, they may assist you in identifying aspects of high-functioning depression in your loved ones lives or yourself. Always seek the care and advice of a medical professional before self-diagnosing.

5 ways that high-functioning depression can manifest in your life

1. Being very hard on yourself

You may also be very hard on others and be very critical of the world around you. Nothing is every good enough and you may struggle to maintain friendly relationships

You may think you are a failure, yet harbor ill feelings against your idiot boss and you can’t stand your spouse or partner. Overall everyone around you misses the mark, including yourself. This thought pattern is very difficult to undo but can be a sign of a high-functioning when coupled with other symptoms.

2. Work is the constant grind

Self-criticism—mentioned above—can lead to grand expectations of self in your constant busy worklife. Your workflow may be the only thing that is important; but it feels like a huge weight on your chest, which may lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

3. Substance abuse problems

A combination of heavy work/life flow, and depression and/or addiction may make it difficult for family members or friends to approach the high-functioning depressive that is also an addict about their problem. Some people may even assume that the depressed person is ONLY an addict because they look like a stereotypical junkie. Realistically, high-functioning depressives use things like alcohol or other illicit substances as coping mechanisms because they lack healthier strategies.

4. Seeking perfection

Sometimes there are other forms of mental illnesses or issues that manifest themselves in this way—perfection. We live in a society that values perfectionism in many ways: education, amazing jobs, body types, and just always striving to compete. These expectations can lead to unrealistic demands and can turn into psychological self-beat downs when you fall short. Constantly worrying about self image or what others think can really degrade your psyche.

5. Inability to rest or slow down

Functioning well under stress and never slowing down are two different things. One is an aptitude or trait that can be considered a good quality—the other, can cause severe issues and can be a sign of high-functioning depression.

If you come home from work and clean or tidy up that is fine, but if you find that you are uncomfortable in slowness, stillness, or even silence this could be an indicator. If your loved one and you never slows down and has to constantly move, clean, or try to attain perfection, this may be a sign.

Treatment and moving forward

If left untreated, you may begin to suffer from major depressive disorders and it can affect your biological and psychological functionality—you may be severely impaired. If you continue to attempt to deal with this on your own, you can develop eating disorders and continued substance abuse disorders (if they are present). If you find yourself in unhealthy work environments or unhealthy and abusive relationships, this may exasperate your depression.

It is important to seek assistance.

Bottom line: High-functioning depression requires adequate clinical treatment as much as the most stereotyped version of major depression does and it can be managed. If you identify yourself in this article it is important to know that you can cope with this through proper treatment and you can reach a level of healthy happiness in your life. We all deserve to enjoy life.