It shouldn’t come as a shock that no two mental health issues look exactly the same. After all, there are a variety of factors that contribute to depression and anxiety, whether those be genetics, situational factors, or trauma. From the outside looking in, it is more difficult to identify someone with high functioning anxiety or depression because it can be difficult to discern whether they’re struggling at all—especially if they have a tendency to keep the issues bottled up inside. While they may not experience frequent panic attacks or major depressive episodes, they can still suffer from a chronic issue.

Mental health disorders have many faces. You’ve heard the saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover. The same sentiment applies when it comes to mental health. Just because someone appears to be successful and happy on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling internally. Although high functioning anxiety and depression are not clinical diagnoses per se, understanding that anxiety and depression do not look the same in everyone is critical in order to get the proper support. If your anxiety or depression isn’t severe, but you notice it interfering with your life in any way, you may suffer from high-functioning depression or anxiety.

Symptoms of High Functioning Anxiety

People suffering from high functioning anxiety can experience many of the symptoms that people with a generalized anxiety disorder or panic attack disorder suffer. Symptoms might include:

  • Racing thoughts, intruding thoughts, or excessive overthinking
  • High-stress levels
  • Excessive worrying or fear of failure
  • Mental or physical fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Over-reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overexercising, overeating, or substance abuse

Many people who experience the above symptoms find a way to live successful lives, because they are oftentimes type A, goal-oriented individuals. While they are able to be successful in everyday life, these symptoms can be damaging on mood as well as relationships if left untreated, and symptoms have the potential to worsen over time, affecting every aspect of their lives.

Symptoms of High Functioning Depression

Although clinicians tend to stay away from the phrase “high functioning” in conjunction with mental health disorders, and different types of depression can have more of an impact than others, it is important to recognize symptoms of depression in any capacity and to consult with a mental health professional when symptoms persist for longer than two weeks. Because symptoms of dysthymia are less severe than those of major depressive disorder, mental health professionals tend to equate high functioning depression as a form of dysthymia. Symptoms of high functioning depression could present themselves as:

  • Pervasive self-criticism or low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy
  • Inability to feel real joy or difficulty concentrating
  • Over-reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overexercising, or overeating, or substance abuse

One example of high functioning depression presents itself as perfectly hidden depression. This term refers to someone who does not experience depression in the traditional sense, but suffers from mental health issues that are consistent with major depressive disorder. On the outside, everything might seem perfect, but underneath the surface the person is experiencing feelings of hopelessness, feeling stuck, and other symptoms listed above. They may also have difficulty processing emotions and derive their personal value from accomplishments rather than intrinsic happiness.

How to Deal With High Functioning Anxiety or Depression

People who suffer from high functioning anxiety or depression often do not often seek help, convincing themselves they do not need treatment because their symptoms aren’t severe enough. In certain cases, people with treatment-resistant anxiety or depression may come to their own conclusion about whether or not they truly suffer from anxiety or depression after trying traditional medication, psychotherapy, or a mixture of the two and not experiencing any improvements. If you think you may be suffering from high functioning anxiety or depression, consult with a psychologist first. Therapists can help to identify your symptoms and the factors that may be contributing to your depression or anxiety. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is talk about your mental health struggles, regardless of whether or not you feel they are significant enough to warrant a medical diagnosis.

Contact VIP Ketamine Clinics

Psychiatric disorders manifest themselves differently in different people. Just because someone does not outwardly appear to be suffering doesn’t mean that they are not. There are lots of different treatment options that can be tailored towards your specific symptoms. If healthy coping strategies do not seem to be effective on their own, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional about other options available. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and VIP Ketamine is here to support you if you or a loved one is suffering. To see if you are a candidate for ketamine infusions, contact our clinic today, or fill out the brief form below.