We all know how normal depression seems. This is something different.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to high-functioning depression (HFD). Now you have been acquainted with our new, not so delectable friend, due to lack of awareness, the most natural thing to say next is: what in the world is HFD?
In layman’s terms, it is someone who seemingly has the best of everything and is smiling on the outside, but is crumbling inside that happy, successful exterior. Some are suicidal and there are cases where the subject took his/her own life. According to Time Magazine, suicide rates only marginally decrease for people who earn $102,000 per annum compared to counterparts who earn $34,000 per annum.
So that is what we are dealing with here. Below is a list of five signs to look out for when dealing with HFD, whether it is for you or someone you know.
5 Signs of High-Functioning Depression
N.B. These signs are guidelines for what to look for and cannot be used to make a diagnosis. The smart move is to get professional help and leave all evaluations, examinations, tests, diagnoses, and treatments to the medical experts.
1. Extreme self-criticism
Be very vigilant when there is a high quantity of this, particularly “when self-critical thoughts apply broadly rather than focus on a particular behaviour,” notes GoodTherapy, as “they may be more likely to impact well-being negatively.” Examples of which GoodTherapy give are: a) “I’m a failure”; b) “I can’t do anything right”; c) “I’m not good enough”; d) “I’ll never get better”. As we are talking about HFD, be aware that these statements may come in the form of a joke. This behaviour is the polar opposite of putting yourself on a pedestal, which is what someone with HFD wants you to think is happening – even though they are highly successful and well-respected.
2. Too much pressure on themselves at work
They appear to be sailing through work when they are actually nigh on killing themselves over it. People with HFD tend to be overachievers from doing the bare minimum, feeling empty inside and a numbing sense of just going through the motions as a result, or they will put excruciatingly painful efforts to keep up appearances and with obligations and what they entail. As they struggle to cope with their malaise, sufferers will seek solace in the next point.
3. Narcotic and/or alcohol problems
Is there any need to wonder why HFD sufferers have these problems also? The real problem in this is that they look like normal junkies or alcoholics, which can be difficult to comprehend for mentally healthy loved ones. Here are signs to spot a high-functioning addict, as described by DrugAbuse: a) Making excuses for behaviour; b) higher intake than intended on a regular basis; c) associates themselves with other addicts; d) regularly feeling ill in the morning; e) losing interest in hobbies.
4. Accident prone
Do they break enough plates to dance to Zorba the Greek? Or do they not watch where they are walking and bump their head on the lamppost? As they are losing focus even in the menial tasks, the condition is becoming increasingly serious and they become increasingly frustrated about it.
5. A regular feeling of wasting time
Despite really doing well for themselves in all walks of life, HFD sufferers feel hopeless and, because of not being able to get the help they desperately crave (it is like talking to someone in English and the other person only speaks Pashto and does not understand you in the slightest), start to think about ending it all. Because they think like this, they lose interest in life in general and withdraw themselves, which is known in the medical world as anhedonia. This is when HFD is at its most dangerous, yet most silent.
A big name that was possibly a HFD sufferer was Charles Dickens, according to Mental Floss. Kathy Benjamin writes, “By his early 30s, Dickens was the most famous author in the world. He was wealthy and seemed to have it all. But after an unbelievably difficult childhood, which saw the author working in a boot factory and living on his own when his father was thrown in prison, Dickens would start falling into depressions with the start of each new novel.”