We wrote about high-functioning depression earlier on this blog; you can find Part 1 here. That post covered what it is and why it is important to talk about it. We are returning to this topic to address the stigma surrounding high-functioning depression and why that stigma can be dangerous.
The Struggle of Having High-Functioning Depression
The image that comes to mind when we think of depression is that of a person who is unable to get out of bed in the morning and cries often. People struggling with high-functioning depression don’t usually match this image; they are often overachievers who thrive at work or in school. Because they are thriving in life, the people around them don’t realize that they have depression. Then, they will be less likely to offer their support. Without that support, these people will have a harder time overcoming their depression. They may also use phrases like “you’re not depressed. You’re fine” which invalidates a person’s struggle with depression.
People struggling with high-functioning depression often excel at work or school, but they are also more likely to be very hard on themselves. They might compare themselves to others excessively or beat themselves up. They might feel that nothing they do is ever good enough and that they will never be good enough. This negative self talk and pressure can lead to sudden break downs that leave someone upset and drained.
The Dangers of Stigma
One of the best ways to improve mental wellness for a community is to end the stigma surrounding it. Stigma is a set of beliefs about a person or group that enforces negative stereotypes. Stigma can make people with high-functioning depression feel uncomfortable seeking help for their mental health condition. If others believe that a person with high-functioning depression is “fine” and “normal,” it discourages that person from seeking treatment. Stigma such as the belief that people struggling with depression are “lazy” or “looking for attention” harm a community by discouraging treatment. Without treatment, people struggling with depression may be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and actions. They may also experience substance abuse problems or practice self harming behaviors. We must end the stigma surrounding all forms of depression and recognize that high-functioning depression is real and valid.
If you are looking into treatment options for depression or another mental health condition, start with our Guided Resources tool to get started.