high functioning depression

High Functioning Depression | Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms

by Pat Fontana

A bad day usually passes. Your mood might be down for a bit but the next day you feel better and are back to your regular self. Unless you’re not. If you are experiencing depression, your symptoms won’t just go away because the weather gets better or your workload lightens. When you have high functioning depression, you need to be able to recognize the major depressive disorder symptoms and understand how to get help.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time, it’s important to know that you are not alone. The month of May is the perfect time to prioritize your mental health, find ways to overcome the stigma of mental illness such as depression, and look for opportunities to connect in safe ways so you can get the help you need. You can live a healthy, fulfilling life, with a little help.

Risk Factors for Depression

Start by learning your risk factors for major depressive disorder. Understand that you are not alone, as depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the US. Your depression may be caused by biological, genetic, environmental, or psychological factors.

It’s also critical to understand that depression can co-occur with other serious health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. These medical conditions can be worse when you are diagnosed with depression. On the other hand, medications taken for these illnesses may have side effects that contribute to your depression.

Your risk factors for major depressive disorder can include:

  • Major life changes
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Physical illnesses and/or the medications prescribed for them
  • A personal or family history of depression.

High Functioning Depression

You may have an image of someone who is depressed as always being sad or unable to even get out of bed in the morning. While that can happen, if you have high functioning depression, you may actually be able to go through your day almost normally. Others may not even know that you have major depressive disorder.

It is only when you get home after a day at work or school or simply running errands that you run out of energy, mentally and physically. You may flop on the couch and decide that’s enough for one day. People who have high functioning depression tend to suffer invisibly, not showing symptoms when others are around to see them. Internally, though, you are fighting a battle against your mood disorder that will not get better without help.


Major depressive disorder is also referred to as clinical depression. Your high functioning depression may have you, and your friends and family members, convinced that you are not suffering from the disorder. However, if you exhibit any of these symptoms for two weeks or more and at least one of your symptoms is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, you may have major depressive disorder. These symptoms will be a noticeable change in your previous ability to function.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, take the time to objectively observe whether you have experienced five or more of these symptoms in a two-week period. Have you:

  • Felt sad or irritable for most of the day, almost every day?
  • Been less interested in activities you used to enjoy?
  • Have trouble falling asleep?
  • Want to sleep more than usual?
  • Suddenly lost or gain weight?
  • Had a change in appetite?
  • Felt restless?
  • Felt unusually tired?
  • Had difficulty concentrating or thinking?
  • Felt suicidal?

Get the Help You Need

If you feel like harming yourself or others, or have thoughts of suicide, you need to reach out for help right away. Call 911 if you feel you are an immediate danger to yourself or the people around you.

As you go through your day with high functioning depression, you may think you have everything under control. However, once you become aware of the symptoms of major depressive disorder, you can take steps to help yourself by seeking treatment. Maintaining your mental health is critical for your overall well-being. In addition to treating the depression itself, you will feel a huge weight lifted as you will be able to stop trying to hide your mental health condition from others and move forward with a healthy, productive life.

South Miami Recovery is Here to Help

At South Miami Recovery, we understand the stigma of depression that you may feel. We also understand that life is more challenging for you with high functioning depression and that you need help treating your major depressive disorder symptoms.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms in yourself or your loved one, please contact us for help. Our professional staff includes licensed mental health professionals and certified substance abuse therapists. We offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services as well as safe outpatient services during COVID-19 so you can get the help you need. To learn more, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.