physical health

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


6 Ways to Cope with High Functioning Depression

PUBLISHED May 14th, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 21st, 2022

Did you wake up today and notice that your eyes are a little heavier than they usually are? Can you not get your mind off of that traumatic thing that happened a while ago? Did something just feel off about the day, and yet you managed to pull yourself together and carry on regardless? That’s called compartmentalizing and it plays a big part in high functioning depression!

Much like high functioning anxiety, it causes you to suffer silently behind the scenes. You experience alllll of the discomfort and sadness that is associated with depression, but you hide it away deep within yourself so that you can get done what you need to get done. But why do some of your symptoms live behind the scenes while others don’t? 

What Is High Functioning Depression?

If you have high functioning depression, you still go through all the same symptoms and struggles as anyone else with depression. Except you push all the gross feelings (that would usually keep you holed up in bed) into a metaphorical cardboard box that you shove into the back of your closet so you can deal with them later. But…sometimes you never deal with them.

You fall into a routine of knowing that you’re struggling, but choose to just put on a smile and go about your day. You put out the best work you can so that no one would be able to guess that, deep down, there’s a dark and angry depression demon gnawing at your mind. So, let’s help you figure out your symptoms so you can spot them as soon as they come up and learn to overcome them.

High Functioning Depression Symptoms

The signs of high functioning depression include imposter syndrome. You constantly feel like you’re faking it because, well, you kinda are! You’re acting like the person you think others want (and expect) you to be while hiding what’s really going on in your head. The good days are normal, but the bad days are really bad. It’s hard for you to focus, you’re constantly exhausted, and, to top it all off, you have to prove that you’re struggling because you seem ‘fine.’ 

There are also physical signs of depression that show up to the party uninvited, and this is how they make themselves known. 

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Digestive problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lower sex drive

How to Deal with High Functioning Depression 

Again, just like high functioning anxiety, there isn’t really an exact diagnosis for high functioning depression. You may show the classic signs of depression or maybe you don’t, but you’re definitely struggling behind the mask that you’ve created for yourself. 

You just have to be reeaalllly open with your mental health professional (and trust us, we know how hard that is). But they will only be able to set up a therapy or medication plan for you if they can see your struggle, so try not to sweep it under the rug. 

6 Ways to Cope 

Overcoming depression and anxiety is never easy. Treatment can be a rocky road and it can feel scary to let your guard down after a long time of playing pretend. So, make sure you also take care of your mind and your soul by practicing these exercises — whenever you need them and for however many times it takes.

1. Become Aware. Realize that the way you’ve been going about your days is not healthy and will only get worse over time.

2. Label It. Whether you wanna call it high functioning depression or just depression, make sure you give your feelings a name rather than just put up with them.

3. Talk About It. Talk about what you’re going through, either with a therapist or someone else you trust, rather than just ruminating in your head all day every day.

4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone. Try something new to break out of your routine, because your brain likely needs some joy once in a while.

5. Lower the Bar. Perfectionism is impossible to reach, so strive for “good enough” and give yourself a break when you’re not feeling your best.

6. Get Support. Tell at least a few people at work/school (who you trust) what’s going on so that they can serve as your support on the really bad days.

Being able to practise these regularly won’t happen overnight. But try to shift the energy you used to rely on to compartmentalize, to feel and embrace your emotions instead! Coming out of a depression is a long road, but it’s one that you can absolutely do with the right tools and support. We believe in you! We love you!

Read More: How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule & Get a Sound Sleep, How to Practice Self-Care During Your Period,