How High-Functioning Depression Affects Addiciton

 In Mental Health

Mental health has quickly become an important topic in today’s society with one of the most common mental illnesses discussed being depression. Although depression is one of the more recognized mental illnesses, there are still many aspects of it that people are unaware of. Many people tend to have a single viewpoint of the disorder, not knowing that it has many different forms.

One form of depression people may not have much knowledge of is high-functioning depression, which is much more common than people think. It has the potential to become a co-occurring disorder with substance abuse when someone tries to self-medicate the symptoms. Knowing the signs of high-functioning depression is key to getting help as soon as possible.

High-Functioning Depression

High-Functioning Depression is not a clinical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, or DSM-5. Instead, it is known by the name persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia, which is a form of chronic depression. Although PDD is not a commonly recognized mental illness, many people suffer from it without realizing it.

High-functioning depression symptoms can look exactly like depressive symptoms. The difference is simply that a person who is high-functioning can still perform daily activities without much disruption or outward signs of their condition. For example, a person with depression may not be able to get out of bed and get dressed for the day. A person who is high-functioning can do these daily tasks but may have extremely low motivation and energy.

Some symptoms of PDD are:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Appetite changes or fluctuations
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Self-hate
  • Irritability or anger
  • Seeking perfection

What Makes It High-Functioning?

Someone who has a “high-functioning” case of depression means they can show up for their daily responsibilities even when they are not mentally feeling well. They typically don’t give off signs to those around them that there is an internal struggle they are dealing with. Not only is it difficult for others to recognize their depressive symptoms, but the person themselves might not even be aware of what they are experiencing.

It is key to remember that a person with a high-functioning mental illness does not mean they are fully functioning. People who suffer high-functioning depression may:

  • Still attend to responsibilities like work, school, social events, cleaning their house, etc.
  • Cry often, feel hopeless, or struggle with self-worth behind closed doors without understanding why
  • Give a minimal amount of effort to tasks
  • Be unable to shake a bad mood no matter what they do
  • Develop issues like substance abuse, changes in relationships, chronic pain, etc.

Because this person can hide their depressive symptoms so well, they can also become reliant on unhealthy coping strategies to keep them functioning. This is when the risk for things like substance abuse enters.

High Functioning Depression And Addiction

Depression and addiction are among the most common co-occurring disorders. Knowing the signs and symptoms of both disorders separately is imperative for successfully treating them. Research shows that alcohol consumption can serve as a risk factor for developing depression. Getting professional help that can treat both the symptoms of depression and addiction is critical.

Ways To Cope 

  • Get professional help. One of the best ways to treat depression and addiction is to get help from a mental health professional. Psychologists are licensed therapists that are specifically trained to help someone with mental health issues, addiction, and life struggles. They can help work through depressive symptoms and even suggest seeking help from a psychiatrist if it seems medication may be needed.
  • Lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help lessen the severity of depressive symptoms. The first adjustment could be to try and get more active. This can mean going outside to get some sun and going for a walk or a jog. Making dietary changes can help people feel better on the inside. A good diet can help provide the proper nutrients your body needs to prevent feeling sluggish and lethargic. Setting daily goals, even if they are small ones, can help people feel a sense of achievement.
  • Get a support system. Having people to talk to on the days those with high-functioning depression feel low can help lift some weight off their shoulders. Everyone has to deal with ups and downs in their lives that impact their day-to-day, but doing so with depression can make it even more difficult. Having someone to talk to, whether a friend or family member, can help ease loneliness and stay motivated.

If left unnoticed, uncared for, or untreated, high-functioning depression can have serious consequences. Being strong does not mean hiding your low points from everyone else. There are many resources available dedicated to helping you find your inner light again, and Mountain Peak Recovery is here to do that. Our facility is located in the tranquil Wasatch mountains that allow you to break from the everyday hustle and bustle of life and focus on getting your spark back. We create programs around your specific needs whether they are substance abuse issues, mental health issues, or a combination. Going through life disguising your depression with low effort doesn’t allow you to experience the best quality of life. Call Mountain Peak Recovery at (801) 824-8829 to speak with us about our programs and how we can help you. Take the first step at finding your joy again by reaching out for help, and we will welcome you with open arms. 

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