I’m not Depressed, I am Just in a Funk, Functional DepressionDec 14, 2021
by Elle Mok
Are you struggling to wake up in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button over and over? After your morning coffee do you still feel low, unmotivated, and dragging at work? The answer may be Functional Depression or Pervasive Depressive Disorder.
Let’s paint a scene here:
The alarm goes off on Monday morning at your usual 6:00 wake time. You think to yourself “Another day…. I just don’t have the energy.” You force yourself up and begin your day. While you think you can survive, the easiest things take extra effort.
You keep to yourself at work or perhaps choose to go to bed early instead of playing with your family and enjoying the evening. Your partner or someone you know well says something along the lines of “you haven’t been yourself lately, are you okay?”
To which you respond “I’m not depressed, I am just in a funk.”
But the reality is, you may be experiencing “high functioning depression” or a more significant term, Pervasive Depressive Disorder (PDD).
So does it matter what I have?
“High functioning depression” is not a diagnosis that practitioners in the field formally diagnose. Yet, it is a common reason for bringing people in for therapy.
This may look like:
- Ongoing “sad”, anxious, or “empty” mood/emotions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive fatigue or less energy including changes in sleep patterns
- Weight or appetite changes
- Isolation or difficulty motivating self to engage in activities previously enjoyed
The most closely related diagnosis in the psychology world is called Pervasive Depressive Disorder (or dysthymia). The difference between this “diagnosable” illness and high functioning depression is the length of time.
A person must have had a significantly sad or irritable mood for at least two years (or one year in children and adolescents) with at least two symptoms above.
While some people may meet these criteria, many that can be described as having “high functioning depression” do not. This does not mean you are alone to figure out how to cope with these symptoms. Regardless of the length of time, these symptoms are challenging to work with and can lead to much more severe outcomes if left untreated.
What to do about Pervasive Depressive Disorder AND High Functioning Depression
While you may be tempted to think (or others may say) “I will get over it”, that is not the case. Depression is not just a state of mind, but a chemical imbalance in the brain. A chemical imbalance that inhibits your ability to think positively and “get better”.
You cannot just wish it away or wait for it to disappear.
Now if you’re reading this you may be feeling hopeless that nothing will get better. While you feel validated that you are not alone, you may be thinking “now what?” There are steps you can take to better these feelings that you DESERVE to try.
People need other People
First and foremost, TALK TO SOMEONE!
Ideally, this would entail finding a therapist or counselor to start. This may feel like a daunting and scary task, but you read this far into the article, so that tells me that you are seeking some answers!
I encourage clients to reach out to their insurance of in-network providers or use a website like www.psychologytoday.com where you can search for providers using different filters (such as stressors, insurance, zip code).
Everyone deserves to have a non-biased, trained professional to discuss challenges with, no matter how impairing your symptoms may be. But if that feels too much for you right now, reach out to a friend and share your experience. You may be surprised by how much better you feel by letting out these thoughts and feelings to someone you trust.
Another helpful hint is to start doing. In the therapy world, we call this “behavioral activation”, or the idea of engaging in activities that you used to enjoy or no longer feel you can do. It can be as simple as making sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day, to pushing yourself to start journaling (or any enjoyed activity) again.
The more that you create healthy and fulfilling habits, the more you will begin to improve the brain chemistry and improve the symptoms of high functioning depression.
Replace Negative Thoughts with Good Ones, CBT for Depression
Lastly, acknowledge and practice replacing negative, self-critical thought patterns with more positive ones. Ideally, this is done while working closely with a counselor (you can search that website by methods of treatment too, this would be Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT is a method of treatment created by Dr. Aaron Beck in which you identify the impact of negative thought patterns on your emotions and behaviors. The more you pick up on your negative thought patterns, the easier it is to think of more helpful and realistic alternatives that can improve your mood.
Summary of How to Survive Pervasive Depressive Disorder and High Functioning Depression
Whether you think you may have high functioning depression or associate closer to Pervasive Depressive Disorder, you do not deserve to live in this fog. The first step to recognizing this condition is, well, acknowledging it. By seeking the help of professionals, doing daily tasks, and reconstructing your thoughts, you can achieve results and remodel your thinking. Life can be tough, but SO ARE YOU!
Those who need immediate help and are in crisis can contact the following support hotlines:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
- Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor