Do You Have High-Functioning Depression?

Do You Have High-Functioning Depression?

It is a common belief that people with depression cannot function well. However, there are many different forms of depression, including high-functioning depression. With this type, it is easy to hide symptoms from others.

High-functioning depression is a mild form of depression, and those who have it may be able to cope with the symptoms enough to appear to live relatively normally. However, during addiction treatment and recovery, even high-functioning depression can be a potential landmine. Both addiction and depression, no matter how mild or manageable, should be treated simultaneously. 

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

People with mild forms of depression may find ways to cope, such as turning to food, video games, self-isolation, or substance use. They may seem fine to others because they often wear a smile. However, deep inside, they are struggling with persistent sadness and hopelessness.

Those who resonate with this description may have a high-functioning persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia. They may try to conceal emotional distress from family and friends. Suppressing one’s true emotions behind a smile or a seemingly functional life does not make them disappear. 

Why Do People Hide Their Depression?

Some people may not want others to know they feel depressed. Depression carries so much stigma in society. Individuals may not want to draw attention to their problems. Other times, they do not want to become a burden to family and friends. 

Occasionally, people with high-functioning depression do not believe that their experience is a real mental health problem. They believe in their strength while trying to find ways to cope with persistent emotional pain. This is easy enough to believe, but true strength lies in admitting they need help and getting the treatment they need to live free of their symptoms.

What Happens When Depression Goes Untreated?

Concealing depression can lead to further health problems, such as headaches and stomach problems. Some people try to maintain a normal life while using substances to self-medicate. If symptoms of high-functioning depression worsen, a person may find it more and more challenging to complete daily tasks.

Common symptoms of dysthymia tend to ebb and flow. When someone experiences PDD and begins to avoid social interactions and experiences increased levels of hopelessness, it reveals a need to seek treatment before things worsen. Trying to cope with substance abuse may make depression worse in the long term.

Can High-Functioning Depression Turn Into Major Depression?

Yes, high-functioning depression can turn into major depressive disorder (MDD). While PDD is different from MDD in its duration and severity, the former may build up to become more debilitating. Individuals who don’t seek help for high-functioning depression may suddenly have an episode of major depression, compromising their daily functioning. 

Additional symptoms may emerge from mild PDD that goes without treatment. These symptoms include shame, a lack of interest in normal social activities, and even suicidal thoughts. Some people may experience delusions and intense paranoia that paralyze their emotional state.

In any case, untreated depression can always slide into something worse. When you experience lingering depressive moods for over two years, there is also a high risk of substance abuse. The body knows it needs treatment. If people avoid professional help, the brain may turn to other, more harmful means to self-soothe.

Treating High-Functioning Depression During Addiction Recovery

When high-functioning depression co-occurs with addiction, individuals must seek dual diagnosis treatment. This is a higher level of care that simultaneously treats mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD). When individuals begin this form of treatment, health professionals will help them understand the relationship between both disorders and how they impact their overall health.

After a comprehensive assessment to discover an individual’s biological family history, the extent of their mental health issues, and the severity of their SUD, health professionals can design a personalized treatment plan. Dual diagnosis usually includes behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), medication, support groups, and other forms of care.

High-Functioning Depression Management During Recovery

First of all, individuals need to believe that depression can be treated. Unfortunately, many people give in to maladaptive thought patterns that prohibit them from fully collaborating with mental health professionals. A positive and proactive perspective is the first step toward healing.

Second, when recovering from high-functioning depression and SUD, honesty and transparency should be guiding principles. Denial only makes things worse. From the moment someone decides to get help, they must make wise choices to honestly communicate how they feel to their family, friends, and treatment team. 

Another significant component of recovery is working diligently on rebuilding a healthy routine and self-care regimen. Then, whether the individual is in a residential or outpatient treatment program, they can put what they have learned into practice. For example, prioritizing a healthy diet, physical exercise, and quality sleep are building blocks to healthy living. With time and patience, hard work will pay off.

Depression is an actual condition, but some people hide it well. If you or a loved one has high-functioning depression, it is time to seek treatment. You should consider getting dual diagnosis treatment if addiction is also in the picture. Laguna Shores Recovery can help. Not only does our team know dual diagnosis and treatment, but we have also had great success in helping people achieve long-term recovery. Our experienced mental health professionals make personalized treatment plans for you so that both conditions can be treated effectively. So do not hide your depression any longer. We will help you find a way out. Call Laguna Shores at (866) 774-1532 to begin this hopeful journey.