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What Is High Functioning Depression In Women Of Color? 

What Is High Functioning Depression In Women Of Color?

Most picture depression as someone who avoids their loved ones and favorite activities. Someone who has difficulty sleeping and is always crying. Mental illness presents in many forms. In some cases, people hide depression instead of wearing it on their sleeves. People with high-functioning depression go through daily activities while concealing their inner battle. Although it may not be clear to outsiders, this mental illness can still take a toll on their quality of life.

What Does High-Functioning Even Mean? 

High-functioning describes those living with a mental illness that is almost undetectable.. Those with high-functioning mental illnesses can manage their symptoms and succeed in living a “regular” daily life. Their mental illness is still very real and affects their daily lives even though they seem okay.

High-functioning depression isn’t an official diagnosis. People with this condition are able to go to work, class, and social events as if nothing’s wrong. Beneath the surface, they still struggle with issues that come with depression. They have problems with celebrating their success, energy and motivation, and low self-esteem.

This condition reduces but doesn’t erase the ability to function in a satisfying way. High-functioning depression looks different for everyone. For some, it means excelling at work but feeling too drained to hang out with coworkers or friends. Others might enjoy an exciting social life but struggle to make it through the workday.

While high-functioning depression may not be obvious to others, it can still have a tremendous negative impact on daily life.
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What Causes High-Functioning Depression?

Like all forms of depression, high-functioning depression can stem from several different causes. Some factors include inherited traits, brain chemistry imbalances, physical conditions, and life events.

Individuals may develop functional depression due to internal and external pressures. Those with mild symptoms might not believe they have any reason to have depression. They could be a perfectionist who is afraid to show that they are struggling. The stigma attached to mental health also convinces people to hide their sadness. People often think that their depression isn’t bad enough to seek treatment. Minimizing their condition stops people from seeking emotional support from friends and family.

What Does High-Functioning Depression Look Like In Women Of Color? 

Women tend to suffer more from high-functioning depression due to societal expectations. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic shows that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. This is due to unequal power, work overload, and cultural stressors. High-functioning depression is more common in women in high-level positions. These successful women are often isolated and do more than their male colleagues to get a seat at the table. This leads to extreme self-criticism when their goals aren’t met. They push themselves to maintain the high-level achievement that’s expected of them.

Women of color suffer from adverse life experiences that can lead to depression. This vulnerable population is less likely to use mental health treatment. A common belief is that only people who cannot function in society seek out psychiatric help. Many prefer to hide their internal struggle instead of talking to a therapist.

Black women are the most likely to struggle with mental health issues compared to others. Yet only 7.6% seek out treatment for depression in comparison to 13.6% of the general population. Society expects Black women to have the resilience to handle anything. They must stay strong regardless of the emotional toll. This belief pressures them to ignore their mental health issues. Income inequality and cultural stigma also cause low levels of treatment.

3 Effective Treatment Options For High-Functioning Depression

Although those with high-functioning depression can get through daily life, it’s still hard to manage. Depression is like any other illness, it’s okay to accept that there is something you can do about it. Here are three effective treatment options:

  1. Medication: There are different antidepressants to help relieve symptoms. These include SSRIs, SNRIs, and TCAs which can improve mood, sleep, and concentration. Antidepressants balance chemicals in the brain that tend to affect mood and emotions. Each option works differently, so it may take a couple of tries to find the combination that works best.
  1. Psychotherapy: This option treats depression through talking with a professional therapist. There are different approaches including interpersonal, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Each method identifies the negative thoughts and habits that contribute to high-functioning depression. Therapists help patients change their worldview and show how to handle symptoms.
  1. Lifestyle changes: Besides formal treatment plans, lifestyle changes can help manage high-functioning depression. Making lifestyle changes can improve mood and lower the likelihood of depression. Healthy eating, exercise, and following a routine have comparable results to conventional treatments. Removing unhealthy habits forces individuals to acknowledge their depression and not avoid it.

Mental health disorders don’t discriminate, but they often affect women of color. It is important for anyone with high-functioning depression to seek out treatment.

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