Are High Functioning People Immune to Depression?

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When we think of someone suffering from depression we think of someone who is unable to function. We think of someone who is caught in the depths of despair; unable to face the world, and their family and friends. We assume they are consumed by misery and will seldom smile or be happy.

It is an inaccurate image which prevents us from taking the appropriate action, whether it be for ourselves or someone else.

For ‘high functioning’ individuals the struggle with depression and/or its associated symptoms can be experienced in a number of unexpected ways. The danger being that if it goes unnoticed over a period of time it can suddenly rupture with damaging consequences to lives.

There are a number of common signs we can be vigilant to observe.

Worry or Anxiousness: When it comes to depression we often assume sadness to be the overwhelming experience. However an increase in worry or anxious thoughts and feelings is just as common. This can range from a continual feeling of nervousness in the stomach to over active negative thinking and hypervigilance.

Increased use of Stimulants and Vices: We may notice that we return to old habits such as smoking or drinking more. Alternatively we may begin to spend more time on video/mobile games,  TV, or shopping. We often turn to these things to ‘self medicate’ and to provide a distraction or lift from our reality.

Bad Moods: Irritability is a common symptom in high functioning individuals. Everyday life has to continue on around us. However, we already feel so overwhelmed with our depressed experience that everything else becomes an unwanted event. We will naturally want to push away those things or individuals which become difficult for us to manage.

Family History: Look to our family and relatives. Recognising if depression and other mood disorders is prevalent in the family can help us. Although we are not bound by nature it can only help us to understand if we have a potential predisposition and then become more aware of triggers and patterns.

There are many more subtle changes we can experience which may signify a depressed state. It is important not to ignore these symptoms and seek the correct support or begin to change how we care for ourselves.

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