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Do I Have High Functioning Depression?

Dysthymia. How to spot it, and tips for the future.

  • Feeling emotionally lost or drained but still able to keep up with your daily functions?

  • Have you heard “I would have never guessed that about you!” after talking about your depression?

If you resonate with the questions above, you might have high functioning depression, and it can look nearly invisible to people looking in.

A misconception about depression is that the person experiencing it must show obvious symptoms, like having a difficult time getting out of bed or struggling to work, go to school, or shower. This is “low functioning depression,” and refers to when depression gets in the way of every day functioning. Today we’re covering the signs and symptoms of high functioning depression, or dysthymia; a form of depression that allows for most every day functioning. We’ll talk about how to spot it, and tips for the future.

What we’ve been calling “high functioning depression” refers to what the DSM-IV describes as persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia. Throughout this blog we’ll be using the term dysthymia when referring to high functioning depression.

Disclaimer! The following signs are designed to improve self-awareness and to help you find out more about yourself. It’s in no way intended to diagnose you, it’s simply a tool to self reflect.

Let us know if you have ever experienced high functioning depression or dysthymia. And reach out to us with any questions you have!

If you are ready to schedule an appointment and begin improving yourself then click here. We’re happy to hear from you!

5 signs of dysthymia

1. Withdrawing from life

The experience of an overall disinterest of life. This can include avoiding social gatherings, wanting to be alone a lot, or struggling to remain in the present. Someone experiencing dysthymia might feel like they don’t have the extra energy to socialize or to maintain their “togetherness” any more than they already are. It can feel mentally and emotionally exhausting to even have small-talk in line at the grocery store.


Worrying about the past or future is often constant for someone with dysthymia. They might always be ruminating on past arguments, what they’re going to do with their life, or worrying about tomorrow. These worries are constant and sometimes obsessive.


Struggling with dysthymia feels exhausting. While depression might make it harder for someone experiencing dysthymia to be present or to have a desire for life, they still feel the drive to succeed and accomplish goals. When someone pushes through feelings of depression it can leave them feeling unsatisfied, frustrated, and tired.

4. Struggle to concentrate

For someone experiencing dysthymia, it might feel like a challenge to pay attention. They might read and reread a page out of a book, realizing they didn’t concentrate or retain any of the information. Even while watching a movie or listening to a friend talk, it can feel difficult to maintain concentration.


With a lack of connection to what and who we love, dysthymia can often times include unhealthy coping tools to help numb the emotional pain. This can look like overeating, zoning out for a long period of time, substance abuse, and over-exercising. People struggling with high functioning depression often seek out something to help them ignore how they feel. This way of coping is actually more exhausting and sets us up for burnout.



    Our favorite tip for when life feels unmanageable is to reach out and talk to someone! Sometimes when we’re foggy or out of alignment we aren’t aware of it until we talk about how we’re feeling to someone else. Speak to a trained professional and start your journey to feeling better!

    Reach out to us here if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment. We would love to hear from you!

  • Self care

    Once we begin the motions of self care (a little bit of fake it until you make it) we start to believe our worth and value. Take steps to show yourself gratitude by way of self care. Breath work, meditation, healthier eating, walks outside, or nice long baths are all good practices to begin finding comfort within. Try to implement a form (or two) of self care in your routine and give yourself the love you deserve.

    Check out our last blog 5 Tips For Mental Spring Cleaning to learn all about caring for ourselves during the season transition. And read more on self love by reading our blog Valentine’s Day Self Care: Tips on loving yourself.

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