6 Signs You Have High Functioning Depression

signs of high functioning depression

6 Signs You Have High Functioning Depression

When you think of someone who has depression, you might imagine a person who is constantly sad, causing them to have a hard time functioning in their daily life or even just getting out of bed. While depression can certainly cause someone to behave in this manner, depression can manifest in other ways, too. If you have high-functioning depression, you may not outwardly express any of the common symptoms.

People with high-functioning depression often suffer on the inside rather than the outside. You could be performing highly in your career, maintaining all of your personal responsibilities, and participating in a substantial social life. However, during all of this, you are feeling the symptoms of depression inwardly.

Dealing with high-functioning depression can be confusing, especially when everyone in your life praises you for how well you are doing but you are suffering on the inside. Knowing the six signs of high-functioning depression can allow you to seek the help you need even when other people do not notice your struggle.

1. You are Extremely Successful

If you have high-functioning depression, you may excel in your career. You might even have more than one job or multiple hobbies that you keep up with. One of the signs of high-functioning is perfectionism or feeling the need to continue climbing the ladder to feel worthy.

Despite being so successful at work, you may feel like you are not doing enough. Your inner voice might be constantly telling you that you need to work harder and longer, never being satisfied with the accomplishments you achieve.

2. You Struggle With Pessimism

While you are displaying the signs of success and happiness on the outside, your thoughts could be riddled with pessimism and self-criticism.

When you can only focus on the negative, you begin to feel like nothing is working out for you. You become fixated on your shortcomings, even if they are minimal in comparison to your achievements. This can cause you to feel hopeless, worthless, irritated, and upset more often than not.

As a result of the pessimism and self-critique that is caused by your depression, you may experience crippling self-doubt and feel as though nothing you are doing is enough.

3. You Have Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

People with functioning depression often overwork themselves. As you strive for perfection, you are neglecting the self-care you so desperately need, causing your depression to worsen over time.

Eventually, you will seek methods of coping. Oftentimes, people with depression turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like abusing alcohol or drugs. Once you discover that you can numb your feelings of depression with substances, you think you will be able to fully focus on overachieving.

Abusing substances only worsens your depression further. Eventually, you may develop a co-occurring substance use disorder. According to the National Library of Medicine, one-third of people with depression struggle with addiction as well, leading to an increased risk of suicide, social or personal impairment, and other psychiatric conditions.[1]

4. You Have a Hard Time Slowing Down

When you have high-functioning depression, you might have a hard time relaxing. After a long day of work, instead of coming home and relaxing you may begin to clean your house. In other words, instead of practicing self-care, you continue to overachieve in other areas of your life.

This most likely stems from your need to avoid the symptoms of depression you are experiencing. Instead of caring for yourself and allowing yourself much-needed rest, you continue to partake in tasks that distract you from your inner emotions and thoughts.

5. Experiencing Joy is Difficult for You

People who struggle with depression tend to feel a sense of hopelessness and have a hard time experiencing joy. Things you used to enjoy doing no longer provide you with feelings of pleasure, leading you to believe that it is impossible for you to be happy.

While feeling happiness is difficult during periods of depression, it is important to remember that this will pass. With proper treatment and therapy, you will begin to experience joy, happiness, and pleasure once again.

6. You Feel Misunderstood

The most common sign of high-functioning depression is feeling misunderstood. Because you are successful in your life, other people think you are doing extremely well. They are constantly complimenting you for your ability to perform and achieve.

However, on the inside, you feel like a failure. You are having a hard time feeling hope, most of your days are riddled with feelings of unworthiness, and maybe you even experience emotional numbness.

Dealing with these emotions while other people idolize you for your accomplishments can be very isolating. Because of this, you must reach out for help when you need it. Just because other people cannot recognize the struggle you are facing does not make it any less real.

Finding Help for High-Functioning Depression

If you suffer from high-functioning depression, you are not alone. This brand of depression can feel extremely lonely, as most people associate depression with extreme outward expressions of sadness and an inability to function.

You don’t have to live with depression. At Florida Recovery Group, we offer a separate mental health program specifically for adults 18 and older who suffer from emotional and psychiatric health issues. Our team of mental health therapists and medical professionals will evaluate, diagnose and treat the root cause with compassion and empathy.

Contact Florida Recovery Group today to get help for depression.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18281835