What Is Functional Depression? Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Last Update on August 25, 2021 : Published on October 30, 2020
What is functional depression

Many of us believe that depression makes us bedridden, completely changes our eating or sleeping habits and doesn’t let us undertake essential tasks. But it isn’t completely true. Depression has many faces where functional depression comes into picture as a prominent face. Although high functioning depression also shows similar symptoms as depression but they are comparatively less severe.

However, it is tough to spot functional depression as the person acts absolutely fine from outside and performs all the activities that are expected of them. Inside, they are weeping, screaming, and sad.

With that, let us learn a little more about what is functional depression, its symptoms, and the question that persists in minds ‘Is functional depression a real thing?’

What Is Functional Depression?

High functioning depression may not be a diagnostic category from a medical point of view but it is a real thing. In fact, high functioning depression is diagnosed as Persistent Depressive Disorder or PDD. It can be hard to detect functional depression as the person seems absolutely fine from the outside but struggling within.
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Also Read: Natural Remedies For Depression: How Effective Are They?

Such individuals feel signs of depression when they are alone like creeping in the bed right after reaching home or facing difficulty in consuming food. However, it is important to remember that a high-functioning individual is different from a fully functioning one.


The symptoms that are evident with functional depression are:

  • Depressed mood most of the days (over a period of years)
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Low appetite or overeating
  • Lack of energy in the body and regular body fatigue
  • Indecisiveness
  • Finding difficulty in concentrating on tasks
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem

Apart from the symptoms above, you can notice other signs for diagnosis including:

  • The person has not experienced an energetic mood for a long period of time.
  • Impairment in some areas of functioning due to significant distress.
  • Signs of major depression are taking place slowly.

What Is It To Have High-Functioning Depression?

1. It is possible that other people feel you are gloomy, cynical or downer but you are feeling down deep inside.

2. You do not get enough sleep and feel tired all the time.

3. You feel that you are not worthy and do not deserve any happiness in life.

4. Gaining or losing weight is one of the symptoms and appetite changes are evident.

5. You force yourself to engage in various activities but ultimately feel withdrawn.

6. There are chances of substance abuse, relationship failures, chronic pain, problems at work, etc.

7. You feel the lack of energy within.

If the feeling of worthlessness is making its place in your mind, drop a message at info@calmsage.com to connect with an expert or call 1-800-273-8255(TALK). In the case of immediate help, call 911 or any nearest police department.

Call These Suicide Prevention Helplines In case of Emergencies

Risks Associated With Functional Depression

Some people try hiding their symptoms thinking that depression is not that bad and it will go with time. This is where high functioning depression actually shows up. Their friends or family members do not have any idea of what is going on because the person minimizes the issue in front of them.

Some of them even think that accepting depression is a sign of weakness but they forget the risks associated with it. Increased risk of suicide, complete disability or self-harm come up and may create issues in overall functioning of a human being.

Also Read: 5 Therapies That Work Best For Depression

Treatment Of High Functioning Depression:

Despite all the symptoms and signs associated with high functioning depression, it is good to know that this mental disorder can be treated. It can be done with the help of a psychotherapist and medications recommended. If any of the above signs and symptoms are being experienced by you or your loved ones, it is of utmost importance to visit a physician today.

A physician will also look for the physical symptoms like thyroid, body fatigue, chronic pain, etc. that contribute to depressive stages.

As per diagnosis, the treatment may include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medications. These therapies help in recognizing the negative pattern of the person and the focus is shifted towards positive thinking.

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Remember, it is best to communicate your problems to the therapist, and with that, do not forget to check the signs if your therapy is actually working.

Apart from psychotherapy and medications, self-help strategies like meditation, including exercises every day, reading books, walking in nature and travel must be followed up for quick recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a high-functioning person?

A high functioning person can be described as a person having a normal life like dressing up every day, going to the office, cooking, and laughing with others. However, he or she is feeling gloomy and empty inside.

Q2. What are the causes of depression?

Functional depression can come from a combination of causes like biological, genetic or certain life instances. It could be stress, trauma, illness, relationship issues or major life transitions that become the cause of depression.


You are not alone! Whenever you feel such signs are significant in your or your loved one’s life, it is better to seek help from an expert. If you wish to connect you with an expert immediately, drop us an email at info@calmsage.com and consult them about your issues for the best outcomes.

More Interesting Reads:

Read: Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Understand: What it’s like inside a Depressed Person’s Head

Learn: Self-improvement Guide: Living with someone with depression

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.


  1. James

    Until now thought know people with some mental problems can have depression but I was wrong your post make me aware of many things.

  2. CHTN

    This may also be another from of depression but every one of them is a hell of a fight & you guys explain it smoothly.

  3. Jackie

    Thank you for this article. I was diagnosed with clinical depression years ago but that was the only type I knew about. This article was very educational

  4. Tom hanks
    Tom hanks

    is functional depression different from anxiety

  5. Nkeet

    Depression's symptoms are almost the same and it's quite great that you guys are covering everything to keep people aware about everything.

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