Depression Doesn’t Always Look Like “Depression”

Written By Sarah Fader

Some of us have been unlucky enough to have the flu. It’s a terrible feeling, sort of like you’re dying slowly. Sometimes people even get the flu when you’ve gotten the flu shot. Imagine the flu is “Depression.” It’s a severe form of illness. You can’t get out of bed, shower, eat, go outside or function. You need someone to take care of you if possible. Sure, it’s “possible” to take care of yourself but extremely difficult.

 

Imagine the flu is “Depression.”

 

Now, imagine you have a common cold; it’s aggravating, but you can go to work and feel pretty uncomfortable, but you can get through it with your stuffy nose, congestion, and mucus. The cold would be more like what is known as “Dysthymia.” This is a low-level feeling of malaise. The thing about people living with dysthymia is that they don’t always look “depressed.”

 

I didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable. I was afraid of being judged.

 

You could be looking at your co-worker who looks a little dazed but could just be spacing out. Actually, she is coping with depression. I can relate to this because I struggled with clinical depression in high school and several times during my adult life. It was brutal and the thing I used to do when I felt it coming on was to hide. I didn’t want anyone to know what I was feeling or going through. I didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable. I was afraid of being judged.

 

I became an excellent actress at pretending to be okay.

 

I was the opposite of okay, and that’s what someone with high-functioning depression is too. They are feeling out of it, they don’t know how to shake this gray cloud over their head, and everything including the future looks bleak. But you may not be able to tell the extent of their suffering because they are so skilled at covering it up in a variety of ways.

 

Look for the signs of depression in your friends and family.

 

Look for the signs of depression in your friends and family: they might be isolated from social events they used to go to. They could be missing days at work or maybe they are not taking care of their appearance. These are things to pay attention to and help that person recognize that they might need help.

 

Ask them what’s happening with them in their life right now.

 

Another thing: instead of asking “are you okay?” Ask them what’s happening with them in their life right now. Asking if they’re okay places the onus on them and they can start pretending that they are fine when they’re not.

High-functioning depression can be just as painful as major depressive disorder. Don’t overlook it as mild!

Sarah FaderCEO of StigmaFighters.com
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

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2018-01-16T20:26:22+00:00 January 16th, 2018|blog, Sarah Fader, writing|