Depression can manifest itself in different ways, including unobvious ways. And regardless of whether it depletes a person to such an extent that he can not move or not, it is characterized by panic attacks or sharp mood swings, so similar to what happens to us under stress, it still remains depressed. Do you think that if you are able to go to work five times a week for eight hours, then you definitely do not have depression? In fact, not necessarily.
Dysthymia and anxiety of high functionality
Despite the fact that high-function depression (dysthymia) is not currently included in the list of official clinical diagnoses, many people suffer this type of depression. In fact, dysthymia is the same depression with the same symptoms, which, however, are not expressed so much, and therefore allow the patient to do more and, I would venture to assume, feel better than a patient with a depressive disorder.
“A lot of people can identify a highly functional depression,” said Refinery29 family psychologist Katie Morton. “At least because many of us have depressive symptoms, which, nevertheless, do not prevent us from normal living, carrying out the usual activities every day.” The expert adds that an unofficial diagnosis also helps to classify people who do not meet the criteria necessary for staging a generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder (episodic paroxysmal anxiety).
In order to diagnose such a disorder, Morton notes, it is necessary to record at least three symptoms within six months, including sleep problems, unreasonable anxiety and difficulty controlling it. In this case, however, it is no longer a matter of highly functional depression, but of highly functional anxiety.
“People with dysthymia or anxiety of high functionality face the same problems as patients with classical diagnoses, but they can still get up in the morning and go to work without much effort. Because, in particular, that the symptomatology in their case is not so aggressive, “notes Katie Morton.
How to identify high-functional depression
But the fact that high-functional disorders are not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which doctors use to diagnose mental health problems, does not mean that they do not exist. According to statistics, in the United States alone, about 40 million adults face similar problems. And it’s hard to imagine what the figure will be if you collect data from around the world.
Experts explain that “high-functional depression” and “highly functional anxiety” are still not recognized in part because every person (and every doctor, appropriately) understands the functioning in different ways. Is it fair to measure the functioning of the ability to go to work? Or maybe it will be enough to have the opportunity and desire to get out of bed and make your own breakfast? Or, on the contrary, one can speak of a high function only if the patient does not just come to work and works, but finds the strength to go somewhere after work? The scientific community has yet to answer these questions.
The problem here is that even if now you feel good enough to go to the office, meet with friends, enjoy your favorite TV series in the evenings, the manifestations of depression or anxiety can make themselves felt in the long term.
“I think sometimes we need to dig a little deeper to understand how anxiety affects us, our lives and our ability to function,” Morton argues. She admits that there is one issue that helps to identify high-function depression or anxiety in patients, even if the overall clinical picture does not show aggressive symptoms: “When was the last time you felt really good?” And he advises everyone to ask himself when he is in The last time he was happy, when he was calm and when he slept carelessly all night. But, most importantly, to answer these questions as honestly as possible.
“The trend is that if we are bad in the mental sense, but we are still able to go to work or study, we can lose sight of, put aside the way we really feel,” says Katy Morton. “It’s becoming a new norm, and it’s sad.” That’s why if you are experiencing anxiety symptoms that last more than a week, you should contact a specialist. Yes, even if it seems to you that everything is in order.