Most people think they know what mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression look like. Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety ads along with pop culture portrayals often paint a picture of someone who has withdrawn from life, including favorite activities and friends, has trouble sleeping, and is constantly crying. While those are some signs, depression and anxiety take on many forms.
Sometimes it’s the bubbly person, the high achiever, the actress, or star athlete who is suffering from anxiety and depression. High-functioning depression and anxiety are increasingly being recognized as a real issue. But because of the stigma still attached to mental health issues, and sometimes the thinking that it isn’t really that bad, many with high-functioning mental health disorders keep their sadness to themselves. No one knows there is something wrong, sometimes not until it is too late.
If you think you or a loved one is suffering from a high-functioning mental health disorder, it is important to know the signs.
High-Functioning vs Low-Functioning Mental Health Disorders
When a person has high-functioning depression or anxiety, they may seem to have it all together, perhaps even more than most, on the outside, but are severely sad on the inside. Women who seem like perfectionists, who seem to have enviable lives and a long list of achievements may be suffering from high-functioning depression.
While there is a perception among some that it is better to be high-functioning than low-functioning, that’s not really the point. The most important issue is that someone suffering from any mental health disorder get the help they need. Even someone with a high-functioning mental health disorder can be keeping themselves from getting help.
One of the reasons high-functioning depression and anxiety can be hard to diagnose is exactly because they are not visible. People who suffer from it generally go about their lives as more or less “normal” so are often perceived as better off than they actually are, even by loved ones and themselves.
Ways to Spot High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety
Often, people who struggle with high-functioning depression and anxiety experience what seem like lower-level symptoms that create a continuous negative pressure that reduces but does not erase their ability to function in a productive, healthy, and satisfying way.
Difficulty Being Happy about Successes
High functioning depression and anxiety keep a person from feeling sustained happiness or joy, even if, or in spite of, things going well. Whatever it is – success on a work project, a promotion, a new relationship – none of these things create lasting happiness in someone with a high-functioning mental health disorder. If they do feel happiness, it is muted and short-lived.
Lack of Energy and Motivation
A person with high-functioning depression or anxiety will often find it hard to gather enough energy to get through their day. They will usually push through to make sure they get done accomplish what they need to get done, but it takes a lot of effort.
For the person struggling with a disorder, it can seem like trying to run through sand, or down an endless hallway. Even though they manage to summon enough energy to complete a task, it will feel much harder that it should be.
Constant Spiral of Self-Doubt
Regardless of their accomplishments, those suffering from high-functioning mental health disorders almost always doubt their skills, talents, and capabilities. It doesn’t matter how hard they work, they are rarely happy or satisfied with their efforts and their results.
Even accolades, recognition, and compliments are often turned into negatives since depression can keep an individual from believing that he or she is worthy of praise. Many think they must have somehow fooled everyone into thinking they are better than they really are.
If this sounds like you or someone you care about, there is help available. With effective treatment, the depressed or anxious individual can finally discover their full potential.