Struggling with high functioning depression

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jessica Wyrick
  • 341st Medical Group

When you hear that someone is depressed, what comes to mind?  You may likely conjure an image of someone who looks sad all the time.  You may picture someone who does not want to get out of bed in the morning, is minimally productive at work or frequently calls in sick, but this is not always the case, especially in the military.

From the first day of military training we are taught to have military bearing, or a poker face that cannot be phased.  Someone who is in fact depressed may not fit the mold of stereotypical depression.  They could be the one in the unit who consistently gets the mission done, exceeds standards or even cracks jokes all the time.  One could appear to have “everything” and constantly surrounded by people, but still feel like something is missing or lonely.  They could be the go-to person at work, but still not feel like they are good enough.  They may feel overwhelmed by the pressure they put on themselves to keep an unrealistic standard. 

Regardless of how someone presents themselves, they can still struggle with depression.  Sometimes these individuals may be better described as having traits of a diagnosis called persistent depressive disorder.  This is often what people think of when they hear the term “high functioning depression.”  The symptoms for this are similar to those described above but may continue for two years or more and include:

  • Depressed mood for more days than not

  • Poor appetite or overeating

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Low energy

  • Low self-esteem

  • Poor concentration/difficulty making decisions

  • Feelings of hopelessness

Typically, depression is related to a combination of factors including social, environmental and biological factors, our thoughts and beliefs, our emotions, and our behavior.  It may also occur more in people who have difficulty with consistent negative thoughts, those who lack self-confidence, are self-critical or pessimistic.

However, there are lots of things you can do to improve a depressed mood.  One of the most beneficial ways to address depression is being active.  Whether it’s going to the gym or participating in an activity or hobby, people usually find that they start to feel better once they get started.  Another technique to improve symptoms of depression is learning to manage negative thinking, which can take some practice.  A good way to recognize this behavior is to imagine your best friend talking the way you are thinking.  Would you think they are being too harsh or pessimistic?

For help managing the symptoms of depression, you can reach the Mental Health Clinic at 731-4451 Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30p.m.  To make an appointment, call or walk into the clinic.  They also offer the following classes with no appointment needed:

 Sleep hygiene:  Monday, 9 a.m.

Mindfulness:  Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Relaxation:  Friday, 9 a.m.

 If in a crisis situation or having thoughts of suicide, call the Mental Health Clinic or walk in to be seen during duty hours.  During after-duty hours, call the chaplain via the command post at 406-731-3801, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 911, or report to the emergency room.