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High Functioning Depression: Suffering in Obscurity

It’s heaven-sent that people are awakening to the importance of caring for ourselves, for reaching mental stability the right way. Attention is slowly being brought to the crucial need to seek help when you or a loved one shows symptoms of a certain mental illness. Only recently I came across a video on “high functioning depression” or dysthymia (also called persistent depressive disorder), but this condition is unique in that the symptoms are mostly unnoticeable – to put it more precisely, they’re hidden. 

via Pexels

Someone could be the most attentive and considerate friend or family member and still not be able to catch this immediately. That put-together, straight-A student in your friend group? He could actually be suffering. In fact, perfectionists are more susceptible to this condition, it’s just that they’re often just playing their part as their “normal” selves around others. Living a fast-paced life packed with deadlines is exhausting. And most of us can’t – or won’t – summon up the courage to stop and take a breather, which applies even more to hard-workers. And the fact that they’re motivated to achieve their best results only adds to the unhealthy cycle.

That’s because the many symptoms include a failure to focus on a given task, even if it’s something they used to feel intense passion in doing. As a result, this lack of focus hinders the work they regard as a huge pillar holding up their lives, which balloons the negative emotion. You can see how dysthymia can really pull someone down. 

Higher irritability, difficulty sleeping, joylessness, poor appetite, low self-esteem and fatigue are also experienced by those with high functioning depression. If you’ve noticed, these overlap with the well-known clinical depression. In actuality, they essentially have a similar classification, with a difference in the degree by which they are experienced. High functioning depression lies on the lower side of the scale, which is why it can sometimes be vague to diagnose someone at this stage.

For a patient’s condition to be fully classified as dysthymia, experts say that a major depressive episode has to have occurred within a span of two years for an adult, and one year in the case of an adolescent or child. Depressive incidents can occur in snippets throughout a person’s day consistently for a prolonged period (dysthymia is also referred to as persistent depressive disorder), especially when no one is around to witness it, which also distinguishes dysthymia from major depression. But this isn’t to say that the patient can’t develop it over time.

Therefore, like all conditions, you cannot ignore the importance of identifying signs of high functioning depression, or dysthymia, and taking due action as early as possible. This gives such a high advantage because the condition has a high prospect of being treated well if treatment is sought out.

Depression looms in hiding among a lot of us; the World Health Organization states that more than 264 million people that inhabit our world fall victim to it. However, just because it’s common doesn’t conclude that it’s less severe in any way, to whatever degree; the size of a stain doesn’t prevent us from washing it out. As far as anyone is concerned, mental health should sit parallel to physical health. Obsessive self-diagnosis is never recommended, but it’s important to know when you need assistance.

If you’re reading this and know this applies to you, make up your mind to talk to someone you trust. If you know someone who might be struggling, approach them with care. As is with all mental conditions, our minds can be fragile no matter who we are, but they always have the potential to be powerful – and that is how they should remain. 

Image via Pexels

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Idie Park
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