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What is High Functioning Depression?

The Effects of Depression

Likely, you knew a high achiever once – someone who excelled academically, professionally, socially – and who seemed destined for greatness. But the façade slowly faded under a tidal wave of exhaustion, intense self-criticism, and little or no sense of accomplishment. In the end, this person probably suffered from severe, undiagnosed depression.

What is Depression?

The National Institutes of Health says depression: “(major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”

Some forms of depression are unique, or they may happen under distinctive conditions and get diagnosed as high-function depression.

What is High Functioning Depression?

Author and therapist Sherry Amatenstein says that “High-functioning depression or dysthymia may be harder to detect than a major depressive disorder (MDD) because the people living with it are often high achievers who make you think everything is all right all the time.”

If this sounds like someone you considered extremely lucky or fortunate in life, then you may understand why depression in all its shades benefits from some form of psychotherapy or medicine like ketamine.

50 Shades of Depression

  • Dysthymia, also called a persistent depressive disorder, is a persistent kind of depression that continues for years and can have trouble effects on work, daily life, and relationships. People with this condition often have trouble being happy even on normally joyous occasions.
  • Major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression, is exemplified by a constant feeling of sorrow or low interest in external stimuli. You might suffer from this if you experience five or more of these symptoms daily for two weeks of more: Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; difficulty focusing; Increase in sleeping; Weight gain or loss; Irritability; Exhaustion and fatigue; and many others.
  • Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is a mental condition that causes extreme variations in mood and fluctuations in thinking, behavior, energy, and sleep. With manic depression, you feel more than just having a really bad day – your depression could result in suicidal thoughts that morph into feelings of endless energy and euphoria.
    Women whose birth experience is characterized by anxiety, sadness, or worry for several weeks or longer may be experiencing postpartum depression, which can actually surface before giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that happens with the change of season. People who deteriorate from SAD see symptoms starting and ending around the same time every year. For some people, symptoms begin around the fall and persist into the winter, though you may come down with SAD in the springtime or summer.
  • Psychotic depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, affects nearly 20 percent of people suffering depression and includes episodes so serious that they come down with psychotic symptoms or psychotic depression. This is a mental condition typified by disorganized behavior or thinking; false beliefs, often called delusions, or false sounds or sights, most often called hallucinations.

Signs of Depression

Everyone exhibits different signs of depression, but here are the most common ones to watch for:

  • Feelings of tearfulness, sadness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability, furious outbursts, or frustration
  • Loss of pleasure in normal activities, like hobbies, sex, or sports
  • Sleep trouble or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Changed eating habits and weight loss, or bigger food cravings and weight gain
  • Anxiety, restlessness, agitation
  • Slowed speaking, thinking, or movement
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness, obsession with past failures
  • Problems making decisions, thinking, concentrating, and remembering
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of suicidal thoughts, death, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical aches

How To Diagnose And Treat High-Functioning Depression

As with other mental health illnesses, high-function depression is diagnosed through a multi-step process. First, a medical doctor will perform a physical, ask about you and your family medical history, and look for an underlying cause of depression symptoms. Next, a therapist will perform a psychological evaluation, asking about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and whether any mental illness is or was prevalent with blood relatives. Once a diagnosis is confirmed using the DSM-5, your doctor will recommend treatment which could include psychotherapy or ketamine infusion therapy.


If you or a friend is suffering from high-functioning depression or any other mental illness, contact a doctor or therapist to talk about symptoms and what treatment options might help control the depression symptoms. Mental illness is not curable but can be treated with the right combination of psychotherapy and drugs best suited to your unique condition. In Addition to traditional treatment methods, Ketamine Infusions are also showing great results in helping treat depression. If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of Ketamine for Depression Treatment please contact us today to learn more.