Thomas Ramey Watson

Why We Need To Talk About High-Functioning Depression

To an outside observer, Amanda Leventhal, a college student at the University of Missouri, appears to have it all together. Perfect grades, a good group of friends, involvement in her campus choir group—she’s not someone many would characterize as “depressed.” And yet, she is. It wasn’t until Leventhal penned an essay on her secret struggle with anxiety and depression that her friends knew anything was even wrong.

Antidepressant ads and pop-culture portrayals of depression often paint the same picture: withdrawal from friends or favorite activities, trouble sleeping, and crying. While those are signs, the problem is that there are many faces of depression. It also looks like Kristen Bell. It looks like Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt. It looks like your colleague who just got promoted or your friend who just got engaged. They are part of a growing contingent suffering from what’s been dubbed high-functioning depression. And because a stigma is still attached, many keep their sadness hidden and no one knows anything is wrong—sometimes until it’s too late.

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