What is High-Functioning Depression?

What is High-Functioning Depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues worldwide, and research indicates that depression rates have reached nearly 30% over the last several years. Unfortunately, not everyone who needs treatment for depression gets what they require, particularly when people are categorized as having high-functioning depression. 

Water Gap Wellness Center is a mental health treatment center in PA. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our compassionate depression treatment program.

What is High Functioning Depression? 

The concept of high-functioning depression takes place when individuals struggle with depressive disorders, but they function not just at a normal level but to a higher degree despite any symptoms they might have. This can make it very challenging for people to receive a legitimate diagnosis, let alone mental health treatment, from a qualified facility.

Symptoms of High Functioning Depression

If you believe that you or someone close to you has high-functioning depression, it’s important to recognize signs and symptoms that might indicate the need for professional help.

Emotional Signs

There are several signs and symptoms, the severity of which can indicate what type of depression an individual struggles with, and these start with emotional indicators.

Persistent sadness

People struggling with high-functioning depression will still experience persistent sadness or emptiness. Rather than recognize those feelings as indicative of a mental health problem, it’s more common for people to try to avoid them entirely by participating in more activities or working more. However, it never really solves the problem.

No enjoyment

It’s equally common for people to struggle with activities they once enjoyed. People might start one hobby or activity and find that they are still struggling with that persistent emptiness, so they take on another activity or change to something new, hoping that the new activity will bring about interest or pleasure.


While traditional depression comes with severe hopelessness that can inhibit daily function, someone with high-functioning depression is more likely to feel hopeless most of the time but tries to overcome those feelings by staying so busy they don’t have to recognize or process them.

Behavioral Signs

Behavioral signs are also directly linked to emotional and cognitive symptoms.


One of the most common behavioral signs is overworking. People who are high functioning and living with depression will remain excessively occupied even if they are already overbooked and lack sufficient time to tackle their obligations. This level of business and working too hard prevents them from ever having a moment of relaxation or silence where they have to sit with feelings of hopelessness or emptiness.


There is a high risk of isolation. Even high-functioning individuals will subtly pull away from their friends or family, still maintaining contact via text but usually avoiding in-person meetings or other forms of socialization.


With a high level of hopelessness and persistent emptiness, it’s common for individuals to procrastinate and procrastinate often. Even though they know there are things they should be doing, they might procrastinate by doing something else, such as taking up a new activity or hobby, hoping that it will give them the feelings they’re searching for.

Cognitive Signs

As is the case with all forms of depression, a high-functioning individual with depression will still experience cognitive problems.

Problems concentrating

Firstly, it’s common to have trouble staying focused. This often manifests in the form of persistent task switching, where an individual jumps from one thing to another without ever finishing a task.

Negative self-talk

Secondly, people with high-functioning depression criticize themselves for not finishing their tasks, feeling hopeless despite staying busy, or procrastinating too much. This leads to a lot of negative self-talk and hyper self-criticism.


Finally, individuals can experience severe worthlessness or guilt, which can contribute to procrastination, isolation, and overworking to try and fix the symptoms.

Getting Help for High-Functioning Depression

High-functioning depression isn’t something that you should excuse as burnout or the result of poor sleep. Symptoms can be ignored; if they are, you can go years without getting the treatment you need. The longer you go without care, the more likely symptoms are to compound, worsen, and lead to secondary and tertiary problems like:

  • Physical health issues brought about by chronic stress
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse issues

If you or someone close to you is experiencing several of these cognitive, behavioral, and emotional indicators, it’s important that you reach out to a professional like Water Gap Wellness Center to talk about potential treatment and how things like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you.

Water Gap Wellness Center offers customized depression treatment near New York, including therapy and holistic treatment in an outpatient setting. 

Contact our team today at (877) 414-3281 to learn more about high-functioning depression symptoms and what treatments are available.

About WGWC

Water Gap Wellness Center offers expert and compassionate treatment for mental health and substance abuse at our Pennsylvania facility, just outside New Jersey, a short drive from New York. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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