Do you have the feeling that something is just not right? You can be happy, but you feel exhausted and down without any reason? Have you thought about depression but can't identify with the common symptoms?
Not everyone knows that there are many different forms of depression. We usually talk about Major Depressive Disorders, where the patient continuously feels sad and anxious and has no drive to do anything. But there's also a low-level form of Depression called High Functioning Depression.
High Functioning Depression, also called PDD - Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia, is a low-level chronic form of Depression. It's more than chronic unhappiness with life and negative thoughts. Patients with PDD function almost normally but struggle internally. Dysthymia can also have episodes of MDD - Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression.
High Functioning Depression is also known as "Smiling Depression" because it often affects people who appear as strong individuals who manage well. If they open up about their condition, they often hear, "Come on, you're strong - get over it" or "You always made it; it will pass!". But it's not that easy.
Often, people don't know they suffer from High Functioning Depression. A study from Rudolf Uher, MUDr, Ph.D. shows, 3.3% of women suffer from Major Depressive disorders and 5% from PDD or High Functioning Depression (Men: MDD 2% and PDD 3.1%). Because PDD is so difficult to detect, the actual number is probably a lot higher.
When we think about Depression, we think about the visible signs of a Major Depressive Disorder. Like negative thinking and inability to see positive solutions, withdrawing from loved ones and regular activities, increased sleeping, exhaustion and lethargy, suicidal thoughts, and weight loss or gain. But what about people who can manage careers and families but struggle invisibly inside?
I had to deal with PDD and MDD episodes nearly my whole life, and it took over 25 years to find out what it was. Despite happy episodes, the main symptoms have been constant sadness, followed by quick exhaustion.
At one point, I thought I was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), but because I also had some Major Depression episodes, it was always diagnosed as MDD. It didn't feel right because the Major Depression phases always had a trigger event and usually didn't last longer than some months.
Until I learned that High Functioning Depression could easily lead to Major Depression if untreated. Because this is what it is: Just functioning. As long as everything went well and there were not too many problems, I could handle my life well.
To deal with one problem was okay, but if more happened simultaneously, I struggled and slipped into an acute Major Depression. Sometimes I was so exhausted from the chronic low-level Depression that even the slightest thing could push me over the edge. These episodes usually lasted only for a few days, and I got myself out quickly, but it was merely functioning. People with PDD have an overall lower quality of life.
The most common symptoms for PDD are:
The persistent depressive disorder often begins early — in childhood, the teen years, or young adult life — and is chronic. Certain factors appear to increase the risk of developing or triggering persistent depressive disorder, including:
The main difference to Clinical Depression is that patients usually don't have suicidal thoughts. They can see and acknowledge what they have, even though it doesn't make them happy. Many people suffering from PDD don't know what's wrong with them. They don't fit in the usual, more known depression pattern. But they need to know what it is to name it. Sometimes it helps to understand what's wrong.
Many High Functional Depressed patients feel like they are just lazy or physically ill and never thought of the possibility of low-level depression. Because PDD patients master their lives on the outside, it is so difficult to see and accept it. High Functioning Depression often happens to people we recognize and know as vital. I believe the number of patients suffering from PDD is very high.
Like every mental illness, it often doesn't come alone. Alcohol- and substance abuse usually goes hand in hand with Depression.
Detecting PDD isn't always easy. The patients usually live an everyday life, have a successful career, manage their family and home, have friends, and have many good episodes. This is why it's hard to diagnose as such. Only an experienced Psychologist can make specific tests to be sure. But some signs can point to PDD:
If you suspect your partner or someone close to you could suffer from PDD, you can try to talk about it in an open, non-judgmental way. Make sure they don't feel like they are doing something wrong. Their self-esteem is already very low, and they might even beat themselves up for not "functioning as they should."
The first and most crucial step is to accept it. A low-stress tolerance and quick exhaustion is the most common symptom of PDD, besides chronic unhappiness and sadness. It's essential to allow it and not to fight it. If possible, take a day or two off, allow yourself to charge your batteries, and don't have a bad consciousness doing anything. By ignoring the need for rest, it makes it worse.
In general, the following are tips, not necessarily treatments.
And most important: Talk to someone, a professional and also someone you trust, ideally someone very close to you. Not even your partner may have a clue what's going on with you. To get help and heal, it's important to talk. You are not alone!
Did you enjoy reading this blog post? Do you want to have compelling and engaging articles for your website or perhaps embark on the exciting journey of starting a business blog, attracting a multitude of customers? Are you seeking to expand your reach by localizing your website to German or transforming your German blog into English to captivate a wider audience? Maybe you have incredible book ideas that you long to bring to life, but the thought of writing it yourself feels daunting. Fear not! I am here to help.
As a professional writer and skilled translator bilingual in English and German, I pour love and passion into every word I craft. I bring ideas to life, infuse them with vibrancy, and ensure they resonate with your target audience.
If you're curious to learn more about my work and how I can assist you in achieving your goals, look no further. Simply click here to explore further and contact me. Together, let's create something extraordinary!