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High Functioning Depression: Everything You Need to Know

Recovery from mental illness and/or substance abuse can require a deft touch. It can require a personalised treatment plan that’s flexible enough to address everyone’s nuances.

That’s what we offer at PROMIS. We are not stagnant here. Treatment for mental health is constantly evolving and our approach evolves alongside it. Our therapists are constantly working at their craft and expanding their skill sets to ensure effective mental health treatment is provided for each and every one of our patients.

An Overview of Depression

Depression is a word that is used to describe both a feeling and an array of mental health conditions that are characterised mainly by a persistent low mood. People with depression may experience constant sadness and feelings of hopelessness, and they may lose interest in things that they may have enjoyed at one point in time.

There are many forms of depression, and it can have many of the same symptoms. The most common form of depression is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but there are also other forms, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which occurs when the weather triggers depression, and Postpartum Depression, which occurs in women after childbirth.

Understanding each variation of depression is crucial to not only determine the signs and symptoms but also to address the condition with the appropriate treatment. 

What is High-Functioning Depression?

How High-Functioning Depression Affects Day-to-Day Life

Just because PDD is a less severe kind of depression doesn’t mean that it has no effect on a person’s everyday life. Depression can be difficult to deal with, even the high-functioning kind. Due to its chronic nature, dealing with high-functioning depression can be a persistent struggle. Some of the ways in which PDD can have an effect on a person’s life can include:

Persistently Low Mood

People who have PDD experience low-grade feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness constantly. This can affect how they perceive their life and make it hard for them to experience joy or any other positive emotion.

Low Levels of Energy

People with PDD can experience fatigue and a lack of motivation. This can make it hard for them to initiate and follow through on work as well as make it difficult for them to have social interactions.

Difficulty Concentrating

Many people with PDD can struggle to have trouble concentrating, making decisions, and remembering details. This can have an impact on their performance at work or school. This can also impact how they manage their finances and organise their households.

Difficulty Maintaining Relationships

People who have dysthymia can feel like they’re worthless or have social anxiety. Their depression can make it difficult for them to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. This can cause them to withdraw from social activities and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Dysthymia Affects Physical Health

Dysthymia is often associated with physical symptoms like changes in appetite and sleep patterns. A person with PDD may not eat a healthy diet or get enough sleep. PDD has also been associated with headaches. All these physical side effects can greatly impact the quality of a person’s day-to-day life.


People who suffer from high-functioning depression can neglect self-care acts like personal hygiene. They can neglect to properly clean or groom themselves, which can lead to a negative self-image and lead to further depressive symptoms.

It Takes the Fun Out of Things

One of the hallmarks of depression is that people who suffer from it can lose interest in the things they once liked. Even if they do manage to engage in something they once found enjoyable, they won’t get the same enjoyment they once did.

Treatment for High-Functioning Depression

Like other forms of depression, the symptoms of PDD can be minimised and managed. Treating depression will often require a complex, multifaceted approach that combines therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, as well as emotional support to be properly managed. Some of the treatment options to manage PDD include:

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes have been known to have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression. Getting regular exercise, for example, is effective at improving overall mood and reducing depressive symptoms. The exercise doesn’t have to be something intense. Even a brief walk outside can drastically improve your mood.

Eating a healthy diet packed with fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains has been proven to be effective at improving physical and mental health. 


PDD and other forms of depression can often make a person feel alone and isolated. As such, it is important to build strong relationships with family and friends, as well as possibly seek out a peer group to have a source of emotional support network and to reduce these feelings of isolation.


Many people who suffer from depression also take antidepressants to manage and alleviate their symptoms. Bear in mind that it can take a while for medication to have any effect, as finding the right dosage of medication for each individual person can be a process of trial and error. However, once they do take effect, medication has proven to be an effective treatment to manage high-functioning depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns. This can help identify and change the patterns that can trigger depressive symptoms. At PROMIS, this type of therapy can also be delivered online and has been proven to be as effective as face-to-face sessions.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is a form of therapy that is focused on helping people develop their communication skills and improve their interpersonal relationships. It is also used to help a person develop a better understanding of themselves and of others.

It can also help a person develop better coping skills for dealing with internal and external triggers for depressive symptoms. This form of therapy is designed for patients with moderate to mild depression.

Getting Happiness Where Possible

It can seem somewhat trite to tell people with high-functioning depression to look on the bright side of life. But looking on the bright side of life is a good bit of advice when dealing with depression. It’s important for people who have depression to get happiness wherever they can. It may be listening to a favourite song, watching a beloved film, or something else.

Whatever the activity, the important thing is finding that sliver of happiness because every little bit counts when struggling against chronic depression.

We’ll Help You With Depression

The signs of high-functioning depression aren’t as obvious as the signs of other forms of depression. Even a professional can miss it. And by missing it, a person never gets treatment. You don’t have to lie in bed staring at the ceiling or crying all the time to be depressed.

Depression is an invisible illness, and it can be invisible even to the person who has it. It can take the joy out of life. If you feel lost, hopeless, or empty inside, you may have a depressive disorder. Contact us now, and we’ll get you the treatment you need.

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