How to deal with high-functioning depression at work, according to mental health experts

High functioning depression is often overlooked because it is common in people who are successful in their careers. According to Talkspace, high-functioning depression is not a clinical term or a diagnosis. Rather, it’s a descriptor for a type of depression with specific symptoms, says the Talkspace website. While some types of depression cause people to lose the ability to function in daily life, high-functioning depression is different. People with this type of depression usually maintain a job, relationships and fulfill other obligations, the document says.

Many people with high-functioning depression have people who depend on them. It can cause professionals who thrive in their careers to only acknowledge their depression behind closed doors.

These are very motivated people. They don’t want anything to get in the way of the goal. As a therapist, you have to rephrase this this way: How do you achieve your goals? Therapy can be helpful in achieving that goal, says Dr. Judith Joseph, a board-certified psychiatrist and chair of the Council for Women in Medicine at Columbia University.

forbes spoke with two mental health professionals about managing high-functioning depression in the workplace.

look for support

Therapy is a great way to deal with high-functioning depression. Professionals with high-functioning depression should seek professional help. Depression, whether high functioning or not, can cause suicidal ideation.

Even if you are doing well in your career or have a high salary, you should still seek support. You can be a workaholic. Your self-esteem may come from work-related accomplishments.

You believe you don’t need a therapist because you do well at work. While choosing a therapist can be daunting, it’s important for people with high-functioning depression to talk to someone. If they are not comfortable with having individual therapy sessions, consult support groups.

There are online resources for groups from specific backgrounds where you can do peer group therapy so you don’t feel like you’re in this one-to-one therapy session, but you’re with like-minded individuals, says Dr.

There are several free virtual support groups that people with depression can join. If you have an intersectional identity, acknowledge all facets of your identity by finding multiple support systems. Dr. Joseph believes that support groups help depressed professionals.

You help each other because you’re sharing your story about what works for you and then someone else sharing their story makes sure it works for them, she says.

If you are interested in learning more about support groups, search for the hashtag #supportgroups or find one on a mental health Facebook group. The best way to find a support group is to attend the free National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support groups. Learn more here.

To go out

Maria Sosa, a marriage and family therapist originally from Venezuela and currently living in Miami, believes leaving home is crucial for people who are depressed. Being outdoors, in nature, there’s something about connecting with nature that has been shown over and over again to help minimize symptoms of depression, she says.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, spending time outdoors helps people with depression. Nature is extremely important in treating depression, says Sosa.

Whether it’s outdoors, in nature or in sunlight, there’s something about connecting with nature that has been proven to help minimize the symptoms of depression, she says.

Connect with other people

Talking with friends and loved ones can help with treating high-functioning depression. Isolation is dangerous for depressed people. The less someone with depression talks about their mental state, the more likely they are to self-harm or to rely on substances for relief. Psychologists say that socializing can have a huge impact on professionals with high-functioning depression.

The more we can connect with other people and loved ones, we realize that we are not alone. The conversations are really impactful, says Sosa.

She has over 400,000 followers on Instagram, which is a testament to how many people want and need to discuss mental health. Depression tends to really isolate us, says Sosa. Being able to be productive doesn’t mean you aren’t struggling with depression.

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