Depression manifests differently in everyone. We have vastly different experiences with varied symptoms, patterns and cycles. Depression has multiple biochemical and social causes, making each person’s experience with depression totally unique. Many people who are suffering from depression can still go about their lives normally, but they are deeply unhappy, often struggling with addictions, and very often suffering in silence. This kind of depression is referred to as “functional depression” or “high-functioning depression.”
People with functional depression can maintain regular schedules and can sustain their jobs, finances and relationships as they normally do. They may or may not identify with being depressed. They may not call it depression. They may not ever tell anyone how they feel. On top of their depression, they have to deal with people not believing them when they tell them they are depressed. To other people they “seem fine.” Oftentimes no one in their lives suspects they have a problem, because they don’t outwardly show any signs.
Functional depression is sometimes characterized as lasting for years at a time. People might have lived with this depression for so long they don’t remember what their “normal” was, how they felt before they got depressed. People with functional depression often experience many of the same feelings associated with major depression.
Fear, panic, nervousness, worry. People with depression often live with intense anxiety, and the same is true for those with functional depression. Their anxiety can be related to any and every aspect of their lives and can be all-consuming.
This may be an obvious one, but sadness is often the most pervasive emotion we experience with depression. We feel sadness about our past, from which we often carry a lot of shame, regret and remorse. We feel sadness and dread about our uncertain and bleak future. We carry sadness about our traumatic experiences, our losses, our current circumstances, our relationships, our self-esteem.
People with depression of all kinds, including functional depression, often feel despair and hopelessness, on a regular basis. They experience suicidal thoughts, ideation and behavior, and as we know, many take their lives. We find ourselves surprised when people take their own lives who seemed happy, whose lives seemed perfect- they may have been living with functional depression and not shown any warning signs to the people in their lives.
We all need support, nurturing and care. Let’s make it a point to check on our loved ones as often as we can, whether or not they have already exhibited signs of depression. It can make all the difference.
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