I realized that I had dysthymia in my twenties after years of experiencing symptoms and being told that there was a diagnosis for what I was experiencing.
I was living my life, maintaining a fairly normal social life for my age while I did exceptionally well in school and held down a job consistently. It didn’t seem to matter that there were times when I felt so empty that I wasn’t sure I would ever feel joy again.
Then there was the word: dysthymia.
High functioning depression.
It sounded kind of like an oxymoron the first time that I heard it.
How could I be depressed but still be functioning? How many times had I been told that I didn’t have depression because I could still get my shit done and live my life the same way that I always had?
High functioning depression is probably a lot more common that you think it is...because you probably don’t even realize that people have it.
This is what it’s like to have high functioning depression: You can get up, go to work or school, maintain a prestigious job or high grades, go to social events, laugh and smile with your friends, post selfies to Instagram...and still be depressed.
There are many common behaviors that characterize high functioning depression, including being more critical, experiencing a higher level of self-doubt, having low energy levels, getting irritable, and generalized sadness.
At it’s core, high functioning depression is characterized by an internal struggle with depression while still maintaining and outward appearance of happiness.
The thing about high functioning depression is...you might not even realize you have it. We’ve built a way to view depression in our society that says if you can get out bed and continue on in your day to day, you aren’t depressed.
Remember: You’re feelings are always valid. The fact that you can get shit done does not mean that your depression is less severe than someone else’s, and you should always be willing to seek help.
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