We’re hiring! View our open positions. 

Are you a current client? Contact your clinic 

Understanding High-Functioning Depression

High-functioning depression, smiling depression, and atypical depression—these are all terms used to describe a form of depression that is not easily recognizable. Unlike the more commonly known symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns, high-functioning depression can be difficult to spot because those who struggle with it often appear to have their life together. They might be outwardly successful, have strong relationships, and maintain a busy schedule, but internally, they are still experiencing symptoms of depression.

High-functioning depression is unique in that it can go unnoticed for a long time. People with this type of depression may not even realize they have it or might be afraid to seek help because they fear being seen as weak or incapable.

Columbia Associates offers depression treatment services in our Maryland and Virginia clinics that are designed to meet our clients where they are. If you or someone you know may be struggling with high-functioning depression, call 703.682.8208 today to speak with a member of our team.

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

High-functioning depression is a subtype of clinical depression that presents with many of the same symptoms but in a way that may not be as easily recognizable. People who have high-functioning depression may still be able to function in their daily lives, whether that means going to work, maintaining relationships, or participating in activities. However, they may also experience intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness on the inside.

Common signs of high-functioning depression include:

  • Constantly feeling tired or exhausted even after getting enough sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Increased irritability and agitation
  • Persistent feelings of guilt or self-blame
  • Changes in appetite or weight, such as overeating or undereating

While these symptoms may be present, individuals with high-functioning depression may find it easy to hide them from others and continue to function normally. This can make it challenging for them to recognize the severity of their depression or for others to realize they need help.

Hiding Depression: Why Do People with High-Functioning Depression Keep It a Secret?

There are various reasons why people with high-functioning depression may keep their struggles hidden. Some common factors include:

  • Fear of being seen as weak or incapable
  • Shame and stigma surrounding mental health issues
  • Pressure to maintain appearances and meet societal expectations of success and happiness
  • Difficulty recognizing the symptoms themselves, as they may not fit the stereotypical image of depression
  • Previous negative experiences with seeking help or receiving treatment

It’s important to understand that hiding depression does not equate to not suffering from it. People with high-functioning depression are still dealing with significant and often debilitating symptoms, even if they do not outwardly show them.

Treating High-Functioning Depression

The first step towards treating high-functioning depression is recognizing and acknowledging its presence. This can be challenging for both the individual with depression and those around them. Approaching the subject with sensitivity and understanding, as well as reaching out for professional support, can make a difference.

At Columbia Associates, our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists offers personalized treatment plans for high-functioning depression that focus on addressing the underlying issues and developing coping strategies. Treatment may include a combination of therapy, medication, and approaches like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy or Spravato® treatment services. One of the key goals of treatment is to help individuals with high-functioning depression learn to recognize and manage their symptoms in a healthy way rather than hiding them.

Contact Columbia Associates Today

Don’t let high-functioning depression hold you back, and don’t feel like you need to hide what you’re experiencing—Columbia Associates is here to help with personalized depression treatment in our locations in the greater D.C. area.

For new clients, please click here to schedule an appointment. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly.