High Functioning Depression | ZwavelStream Clinic
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High Functioning Depression

In this post we’ll be taking a closer look at High Functioning Depression and Smiling Depression. All too often these subtypes of Major Depressive Disorder are dismissed as nothing more serious than a passing phase. That is, if it’s even acknowledged at all. This is because the general range of symptoms associated with both do not fit the usual stereotypes of depression. What this means is that on the outside, these people seem as if they’ve got it all figured out. But High Functioning Depression – or Dysthymia – is a very real mental illness, where a person will have low moods for most of the day, almost every day, for at least two years. Similarly, Smiling Depression lives up to its name in that it isn’t easy to pick someone out in a crowd who suffers from it. They appear happy and seem to have everything in control. How, then, do we begin to treat something that’s hardly noticeable?

The struggle behind the smile

People with High Functioning Depression very often don’t realize they have it, because their symptoms don’t fit neatly into the ‘Depression Box’. But in their case, tiredness is exhaustion and fatigue – they get through the day, doing what they have to, but it takes every. last. ounce. of energy to do it. They’re hanging on by a thread, but feel pressure to give the impression that they’re in total control. As a result, when they get to bed each night, they are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. Tapped out. And what’s worse, is that the person with High Functioning Depression feels extreme guilt about the way they feel. They are always criticizing and doubting themselves, their internal dialogue being one of constant guilt and shame.


With Smiling Depression, internal distress is always hidden. Long periods of deep sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness are covered up by the belief that they need to present a certain image to the world. And all those negative feelings don’t form part of that happy, confident image. They keep up the façade because they feel that showing signs of depression would be taken as weakness, or perhaps they don’t want to be a burden to anyone else. What this results in, is a person who only gives in to depressive symptoms when they are alone, but are cheerful and in control when faced with the public. That said, it is just this distinction between the two states of being that makes people miss the fact that they have any real mental health problem at all.

Moving on to wellness

With Smiling Depression being so hard to spot in the first place, knowing what risk factors to look out for might help early intervention. These include: major changes in life, exposure to public criticism or judgement, social media pressures, and high expectations to perform and live to a certain standard. All of these situations are likely to bring about depression, especially if the person involved feels they are falling short in any way. In the case of High Functioning Depression, it’s common for people to have low moods most of the time – as if they’ll never be happy again.


They also have a low self-esteem, and although they make sure they do everything they’re supposed to, they always feel worthless. So if you recognize any of these signs and symptoms in yourself or someone you love, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. At ZwavelStream Clinic our team of professionals will help you manage your condition with the utmost care and guidance.

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