High functioning depression can hide behind productivity.

Raghvan is doing two jobs, One on weekdays and another weekend. Evenings spent on a freelance online project from Canada. Everything seems to be working. Except for the fact that he is at risk.  Functionality and productivity have been important criteria to assess mental illness. All these criteria were shattered with a recent suicide rate of high functioning individuals.          

High functioning depressed individual's days are like a robot. Not enough joy, happiness or peace. They are not crying, immobile or paranoid though. Every day ends with a new day that ends with another. There is no vision or long-term goal. They don’t have a driving force for their purpose.  Maybe “numb” is the word that describes these people.                     

If you or someone you know fits the description probably it's high functioning depression.  As depression has been stereotyped as ‘feeling low' and emotionally unstable behaviour. Depression in itself without adjectives can be very different for different people. Inability to enjoy life or chronic numbness is a common thread that ties all sorts of depression. Depression commercials have been showing a despaired set of individuals. Individuals who have a tough time getting out of the bed, who sit there all day long, every day. But this may not be true after all.      

Anyone can be as productive in the state of depression as any other state. Also known as “persistent depressive disorder”; it is very often even missed by trained clinicians. This form of depression may go unnoticed for years or decades. The person may not even realize that this is a problem.                         

Some symptoms of high functioning depression are:                 

  • They experience no joy - even when things are going well there is no sustained joy. Very temporary mood improvement even for big news like promotions or success at work.        
  • Low energy – The perfect metaphor would be someone trying to run in sand.  They are seen as high performing but the energy to go through this process is not enough. They will do what is required but it won't come easy. Even though their energy and focus is at the right place the required level of energy seems difficult to gather.              
  •  Self-doubt  - No matter what the achievements and accomplishments are, they will not be satisfied. They will keep doubting their skills, talents and capabilities. Even when recommended or awarded they will end up disqualifying the positive. Considering every praise as a fluke.          
  • Substance abuse - The Combination of this can be very difficult to intervene as they can be functional and don't look like a roadside junkie. They work hard all long and get high in the evening and can work in the morning again. Interestingly, no family member can point out the problem and help becomes distant.  
  • Wasting time - As hopelessness is at the core there is always this hitch of wasting time. A vision of a miserable future can make the present very pathetic. They continuously feel that nothing is getting done, even when they are working hard.               

A way out:          

They can be described as competitive and humble. But they are the least happy people. The least satisfied. One who is most dedicated and burns the midnight oil may not have a purpose. But if there is no joy and purpose which thrives them maybe we need to start thinking.  If you are someone who is experiencing this or know someone who does, the best thing one can do is take support. The best part about these individuals is that if they get the support they can be productive in their action plan. An action plan against this form of depression. They will work hard on their high functioning depression too. All that’s required is a beacon of insight.

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