“You don’t seem depressed,” “What do you have to be sad about?” “But you are so successful,” “You look great, you’re not depressed” are some of the things that are often said to people who experience high-functioning depression.
High-functioning depression is very dangerous because most often, people who struggle with it appear to be very well-adjusted and to “have it all together”. This is one of the reasons why you may have seen a lot of different posts about “Checking on your strong friend” in the midst of the recent suicides.
High-functioning depression often means that an illness that is already invisible, is even less visible to someone’s close family and friends.
There are a lot of myths about depression that prevent people from receiving the appropriate help.
Myths About High-Functioning Depression
- People who are highly successful can’t be depressed. This just isn’t true. There are a countless number of people who excel in their field, their career, and their life- and still struggle with clinical depression. For many people, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that it inherent in their biological makeup. Someone could have “everything” on the outside, but still feel empty on the inside.
- People who are social and are out often can’t be depressed. People with high-functioning depression are usually pretty adept at covering up how they are feeling. Similarly, they can be in a room full of friends, and still feel alone. It doesn’t seem rational, but this can be their reality.
- “They always seem happy, there’s no way they are depressed.” A lot of people with high-functioning depression have spent a majority of their life hiding behind a smile and convincing other people they are “OK”. They become masters as disguise. However, it doesn’t mean that their inside looks anything like what you might see on the outside.
- Depression only impacts people who are alone or lonely. I think we all as a culture have to look at our own assumptions. Depression definitely impacts people who are alone and often feel lonely, but it also impacts people who are never alone; people who are surrounded by family and friends all the time.
I guess my point is, high-functioning depression hides itself very well. Try not to make assumptions about people; you never know who could be struggling with something under the surface. Just because people aren’t talking about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t handicapping for them.
If you know someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 911 or 211. If it is not at a crisis level, you can also provide them with resources including:
For immediate help and crisis assistance, Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services can be called at anytime: http://www.empsct.org/ or 211