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Everything You Need To Know About High Functioning Depression

Depression is a devastating disease that affects about 350 million people worldwide. While the symptoms of depression can fluctuate from individual to individual, there are clearly many common themes associated with rehab for depression. Several of the symptoms of depression include anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest and pleasure in activities, sleeping problems, fatigue, lack of concentration and many other hindering characteristics. Instead of feeling a healthy range of emotions, people with depression are more likely to feel unusually sad and numb, and their health and well-being is greatly affected. While it's normal for people to feel sad when coping with unpleasant events, depression is an ongoing illness that requires medical treatment in order to recover and return to a healthy lifestyle. Likewise, the stigma connected with mental illness is well-known and consequently, many people deal with depression on a daily basis without seeking treatment.

A peculiar yet common type of depression is 'High-Functioning Depression', or HFD. HFD is similar to chronic low-level depression and whilst it is certainly not as intense chronic depression, HFD can significantly affect your quality of life by losing enthusiasm for work, family, school and social activities. Dr Jason Stamper from Pikeville, Kentucky, indicates that "people with high functioning depression still go to work and interact with people, but outside of work, they may stop socialising with friends and make excuses to avoid any social activities" ( A person with HFD generally looks normal on the outside, but on the inside, they are having to deal with a variety of emotions that negatively affects their health and well-being. If left untreated, HFD can amplify and transform into chronic depression, so it's important to understand the signs that you or a loved one may be struggling with HFD before the issue intensifies.

Difficulty experiencing joy

When a person finds it difficult to enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable, it's a very probable sign that they are suffering from HFD. The general numbness one feels when experiencing HFD subdues all emotions of joy and happiness they once embraced. Even when things are going well, for example, beginning a new relationship, a promotion at work or going on holidays, there may be a mild improvement in their mood but their happiness is usually dull and short-lived. This is one of the most prominent signs of a person experiencing HFD, and if you witness an individual who seems to be numb after accomplishing a goal when they previously would be delighted, chances are they are suffering from HFD and you should seek help sooner rather than later.

They prefer vices over social activities

People with HFD often become socially isolated and indulge much more in their vices. This may mean that they start drinking more alcohol than usual, taking drugs, compulsive eating or playing an excessive amount of online games. This type of behaviour represents an emotional crutch and helps an individual with HFD to switch off from reality to avoid the agony and suffering they're going through. Drinking more alcohol and using drugs are especially troublesome because not only do they aggravate the symptoms of depression, they add an additional problem to their current mental illness which can be extremely hazardous in some cases. Substance abuse and mental illness are a regular combination, so it's imperative to take action immediately if you witness this behaviour.

General fatigue

Individuals who are experiencing HFD get tired and fatigued very quickly, which clearly prevents them from performing at their best. Though individuals with chronic depression may find it hard just to get out of bed, those with HFD can nonetheless function properly but get tired a lot quicker than normal. Due to the fact that many people suffering from HFD are high performers, they can typically push through and achieve what needs to be done, but the effort in doing so is amplified. It's very similar to a car engine where one of the cylinders isn't working properly. The car will still run, but the performance is significantly affected and without it being fixed, the engine will be ruined over time. This is a clear sign of an individual with HFD.

Extreme self-criticism

Usually, individuals that experience HFD are over-achievers, have well-respected jobs, and are generally talented in many areas. Certainly, these types of people are hard on themselves because they have to set the bar high to achieve their ambitious goals. As a result, they expect a lot of themselves and while this may appear like an attractive trait to have, it can often times push the person beyond the healthy point of self-criticism into a position where they're continually beating themselves up even for insignificant mistakes. Regularly beating yourself up is terribly unhealthy as it is emotionally draining, causes anxiety and intensifies their depression.

Feelings of wasting time

As mentioned previously, individuals with HFD are normally high achievers and despite their many successes and achievements, they feel as if they are wasting time. Over time, this can produce suicidal thoughts as they feel hopeless and their achievements weren't worth the effort or time. Making changes like switching careers or trying different hobbies provide little comfort, as the fundamental issue is that they are not wasting time, they are dealing with anhedonia, one of depressions most common symptoms. As a result, those dealing with HFD lose interest in life in general and withdraw themselves socially, and this is one of the most silent yet dangerous aspects to HFD.

Treatment is available

While HFD is a milder case of depression, it can increase over time and other conditions can emerge if left untreated so it's essential to understand the warning signs of someone who may be struggling with HFD. In today's world, we respect those who push themselves to exhaustion, fail to recognise their achievements and refuse to be satisfied. What we also fail to recognise is that these types of people often times suffer from HFD. The good news is that there are a range of treatments available to those who struggle with this debilitating illness. Despite this, it's crucial to recognise when a person may be suffering from HFD and to seek treatment as soon as possible to ensure a smooth and successful recovery.

If you know anybody that may be suffering from this illness, contact the friendly team at The Banyans who specialise in treating individuals experiencing HFD. Phone 1300 226 926 for a confidential discussion or visit their website for additional information:

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