what is high functioning depression

What Is High Functioning Depression: The Common Symptoms and Treatment

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“What is high functioning depression?” is a more common question than you’d think.

With the lessening stigma around mental health, more individuals ask whether they’re suffering from the disorder.

High functioning depression is similar to clinical depression but with considerably less severity.

This guide will explore the definition of high functioning depression and its clinical name.

We’ll also get into the disorder’s traits, symptoms, and common treatments.

If you’re concerned you’re living with depression, seeking medical counsel is essential.

What Is High Functioning Depression?

High functioning depression is often used as the non-clinical term for persistent depressive disorder.

With high functioning depression, you’ll experience many of the same symptoms of major depressive disorder with one distinct difference.

The main difference is your symptoms won’t feel debilitating daily.

High functioning depression can come in waves, similar to major depressive disorder.

However, most patients realize their symptoms are consistent for an extended period.

You might find your symptoms will feel like a part of who you are.

This manifestation of symptoms is what can make high functioning depression so dangerous.

Instead of getting treated like you would with the severe symptoms of major depressive disorder, high functioning depression feels chronic.

Many individuals accept their symptoms and adapt their lifestyles to accommodate their condition.

Getting treatment for high functioning depression is just as important as any other mental disorder.

It can damage your mental and physical health to abide by an “It is what it is” mentality.

You can work to alleviate the symptoms and develop essential coping mechanisms to better manage your mental health by seeking treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of High Functioning Depression?

Most clinicians do not consider high functioning depression as a clinically-relevant disorder.

As such, there aren’t objective clinical symptoms to refer to.

However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t symptoms commonly attributed to the disorder to consider, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Difficulty making decisions, concentrating, and remembering
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt
  • Considerable changes in appetite

It’s important to remember the symptoms of high functioning depression appear differently than major depressive disorders.

Major depressive disorder can often cause sufferers to experience drastically more severe symptoms of depression.

In contrast, high functioning depression is more muted albeit experienced for an extended period.

It’s also important to consider the manifestation of symptoms in individuals with persistent depressive disorder.

With this diagnosis, you may experience normal moods for one to two months.

You’ll have chronic, persistent symptoms that can turn into major depressive disorder without treatment for the remainder of the year.

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How Is High Functioning Depression Treated?

There aren’t specific clinical treatments used to manage high functioning depression. That is because it’s not accepted as a clinically significant mental health disorder.

However, this does not mean a mental health professional cannot assist you with living with the condition.

When you’re experiencing symptoms, a mental health professional can provide you with coping mechanisms.

There are also inpatient and outpatient treatment processes to consider.

Let’s explore some of the most common treatments for depressive disorders.


Psychotherapy is the most-used treatment for many different types of depressive disorder, including persistent depressive disorder.

It can also be one of the most helpful resources available to you to help manage the daily symptoms you’re experiencing.

With this treatment option, you’ll have conversations with a trained therapist.

During these conversations, you’ll explore the various triggers of your depressive episode.

You may also explore past trauma, your family history of depression, and any other comorbid conditions you’re experiencing.

Through psychotherapy, patients can better understand their brain mechanics and guidance for managing symptoms.

Psychotherapy is convenient because various professionals in different settings can offer it.

You can visit psychologists, psychiatrists, or even standard counselors. It can be available in group settings and private settings, depending on your preference.

Using psychotherapy can also help to provide you with additional resources to help.

It’s often the first step before being prescribed medications for your depressive disorder.


Another common treatment option for patients with major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder is drug therapy.

Drug therapy can significantly assist with managing the chemical imbalance in your brain responsible for depressive symptoms.

However, for persistent depressive disorder, drug therapy falls second to psychotherapy.

The most common medications you are likely to be prescribed are antidepressants.

Antidepressants assist with managing your brain chemistry, allowing your serotonin to reach normal levels.

A few examples of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants include:

  • SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors)
  • TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants)
  • SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)

You must talk with your mental health professional to consider side effects as with any prescribed medications.

Side effects are particularly important when taking antidepressants for extended periods, especially with high functioning depression.

Lifestyle Changes

In many instances, patients with high functioning depression may not meet the markers to be prescribed medications.

When this occurs, lifestyle changes are the number one treatment option aside from psychotherapy.

Working alongside your doctors, you’ll likely establish a healthier diet plan and an exercise plan.

Combining these two factors can significantly increase your chances of effectively managing your depression.

A healthier diet assists with adding more nutrients into your daily diet. While exercise boosts your serotonin production, alleviating the emotional burden of depression.

Many patients find that living a healthier lifestyle is one of the best methods for treating depression.

Some studies have found that exercise alone can be equally powerful as antidepressants themselves.

Even if you’ve been prescribed medication, enacting better lifestyle changes is essential for depression management.

NLP Therapy

NLP therapy is a newer tool in the psychological landscape that psychotherapists can use to help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

It’s similar to psychotherapy and can often be implemented alongside traditional psychological practices.

Additionally, it’s a versatile approach to analyzing mental health that is applicable to most lifestyles.

With Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) therapy, patients will work with practitioners to explore unconscious thought patterns.

With this exploration, you can better understand and alter your daily psychological responses.

This process examines the connection between three components: Neurological Processes (N), Language (L), and Behavioral Patterns (P).

As a multi-dimensional approach to processing mental health patterns, NLP can be highly beneficial.

Patients will have a better understanding of subconscious patterns and conscious patterns.

It can also assist with developing enhanced coping mechanisms when managing other mental health disorders such as PTSD and anxiety.

With NLP therapy, it can be conducted in an assortment of ways. Some patients prefer to visit their practitioner in person, while others enjoy online meetings.

One of the largest advertised benefits of this treatment method is how effective it is within a short period.

Compared to standard therapy, NLP aims to offer the same benefits in less time.

With that said, it will include rigorous internal study.

It’s also highly adaptable, and treatment length varies considerably from patient to patient.

Understanding Neuro-Linguistic Programming is imperative to decide whether it’s the right treatment for you.

We highly recommend considering these resources to help you know what to expect:

  • Principles of NLP: What It Is and How It Works (Discovering Holistic Health) – Joseph O’Connor

Principles of NLP is a fantastic read for patients interested in this form of therapy. It’s an all-inclusive guide that helps to introduce you to basic NLP principles.

You’ll also better understand its key concepts, such as modeling, rapport, and anchoring.

  • The Ultimate Introduction to NLP: How to Build a Successful Life – Richard Bandler, Alessio Roberti, Owen Fitzpatrick

The Ultimate Introduction to NLP is an essential resource for anyone suffering from depression.

This guide is written by one of the cofounders of the practice, Richard Bandler.

In the guide, you’ll explore the different tenets of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and how it can build a more successful life.

  • NLP: The Ultimate Guide to Understand NLP for Experts and Beginners – Korey Snider

NLP: The Ultimate Guide to Understand NLP for Experts and Beginners is a must-have for prospective patients.

Not only does it explore the professional benefits of the practice but also beginner-friendly concepts.

You’ll explore NLP techniques and dive deeper into the meta-model for a deeper understanding.

Understanding High Functioning Depression

If you’re asking, “What is high functioning depression?” it’s time to consider seeking mental assistance to guide you through the disorder.

Although it’s not as severely expressed as major depressive disorder, it can lead to considerable life changes.

With treatment, you can live the life you’ve always wanted with lessened feelings of self-worthlessness.

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