The Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

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High-functioning depression is characterized by a higher level of functioning than what you would expect to see in someone experiencing clinical depression. This means that someone who is high-functioning doesn’t necessarily come across as depressed but is experiencing some of the symptoms of depression.

This doesn’t mean that high-functioning depression is less severe than clinical depression, but they are different. It’s important to note that the anxiety symptoms that come with high-functioning depression are just as severe as those in clinical depression. Still, the overall functioning level of the person is not affected.

In this article, we’ll go into detail about high-functioning depression. Read on below to learn more.

What Sets High-Functioning Depression Apart

The official diagnosis for high-functioning depression is persistent depressive disorder, or PDD. The main difference between high-functioning depression and clinical depression is that in high-functioning depression, the person doesn’t necessarily see the issues as serious enough to need professional help. Because they are higher functioning, they may not be aware of the extent of their symptoms, so they don’t necessarily seek out treatment. People with PDD may not realize they have it, so they may just think that it’s just the way they generally feel, or they may not relate it to depression because they believe they’re just really stressed.

Causes of PDD

The symptoms of high-functioning depression are similar to that of clinical depression, but there are a few key differences. When you compare high-functioning depression to clinical depression, the symptoms may be less intense. For example, someone with high-functioning depression may not sleep as much, but they may still be able to get to work.

The symptoms of high-functioning depression that you should be aware of include:

  • Recurring feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness and helplessness
  • Lack of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable
  • Anxiety
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Strong feelings of guilt
  • Thinking, speaking and moving more slowly
  • Thoughts of suicide

Compared to clinical depression, people who experience high-functioning depression are more likely to experience symptoms like anger, agitation and restlessness than those who are severely depressed. Maybe this is because they are trying to hide the fact that they are depressed from others, or perhaps it’s because they’re trying to hide it from themselves.

Treatment of High-Functioning Depression

While it’s possible that some people with PDD can manage without having to seek professional help, they should still be aware that they aren’t going crazy. There are many forms of treatment available, and they really can help. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, which can help the person identify and deal with negative thoughts and behaviours.

Another important aspect of treatment for high-functioning depression is the use of antidepressants. Antidepressants can help the person manage their symptoms and get their life back on track.

It’s also vital for people with high-functioning depression to find healthy coping strategies. This can help them avoid self-destructive behaviours that make the condition worse. If they find that they are struggling to cope with the depression, they may feel better if they start journaling or writing down their feelings.


If you are experiencing high-functioning depression, you need to be aware of the symptoms and how they may be affecting your daily life. This way, you can seek treatment. The sooner you realize that you have a mental disorder, the sooner you start getting help.

Chettiar Counselling & Associates provides depression counselling for anyone who needs it. We understand that finding the right therapist is challenging, so our one-on-one therapy sessions employ various strategies and techniques to help you give a new outlook on life. Have a counselling session with us today because you deserve it.