We have to talk about high-performance depression

In the eyes of an external observer, Amanda Leventhal, a Missouri University student, seems to have everything under control. A good group of friends and engagement with the campus chorus: not a person many would qualify as “depressed.” Yet, it is. Your friends knew that something was wrong only when Leventhal wrote an essay on his secretive battle against anxiety and depression.

Advertising of antidepressants and mass media representations always give us the same image: depression involves retreat from the world and its favorite activities, sleeping problems and tears. These are some signs, of course, but the problem is that depression has many faces. She has the face of Kristen Bell. He has the face of Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt. It has the face of a colleague who has just got a promotion or friend who just got engaged. They are all part of a representative slice of population, growing, suffering from what has been termed “high performance depression”. Since there is still a widespread tendency to stigmatize, many prefer to hide their sadness and no one knows something is wrong, sometimes until it’s too late.

High performance vs Low performance

High-performance depression manifests itself when a person seems to have everything under control, outside, but inside is seriously afflicted. The Dr. Carol Landau, clinical professor of psychiatry, medicine and human behavior at Brown University, mainly detected in women with a tendency toward perfectionism. In other words, the same people who are probably our co-workers or friends, with an enviable life and a long list of personal successes.

“People often feel it is better to be suffering from high-performance depression (rather than low-functioning). This is not exactly so because the most important thing for a depressed person is to get help. A possibility that the high-functioning subject often denies” explains Landau.

A “hidden” battle in the sunlight.

Leventhal’s essay on his private battle has been in gestation for years. “I was thinking about a while,” she says. “One night, unable to sleep, I decided to put black on white everything I had reflected over the years.” He admitted that after the article was published, his friends were upset. Now, however, he feels more comfortable when he talks about depression in conversations (“I note that I have an appointment with the analyst, just as I would if I had an appointment from the dentist”). But he says he does not play the subject so often because he is too worried about saddling others.

According to Landau, she is typical of women: “We are still aspiring to be crucerosines, and part of this ambition is not to admit that we need help,” he says. “But this is a huge problem. In fact, major depression is the first cause of disability in the world, according to the World Health Organization, which takes into account factors such as lost days, inability to carry out activities daily and other diseases like diabetes (which could lead to depression),” he explains. “When a person speaks openly to his friends, he may receive a “I myself,” or “Even my sister feels so”, “Even my mother” or even “Our friend too …”

Other ways to recognize depression.

Leventhal does not identify with the women who have fallen in advertising. His symptoms are manifested in other ways. “In my case, it was irritability,” she explains. Landau confirms that it is quite normal. “Perhaps you have a friend who is always clamorous or that others consider a” bitch “, but within that person is seriously fighting. Other imperceptible signals to detect: ironic or macabre jokes or the perception that the subject in question is distant and frustrated.

How to talk to a friend you think is hiding his depression? Landau suggests asking her if she is all right, pointing out that she is no longer the same. Amanda Leventhal remembers that feeling. “It’s the small stuff, how to ask how it goes,” he says. “Being there, listening and asking your friend what they need. People are different and will need different things.” Dr Landau believes the best thing to offer is a hint, such as the name of a respectable analyst or an app used for meditation. “There are so many different types of analysts, medical care, apps and other tools,” explains Landau. “That’s why the fact that so many people do not look for help is so alarming.”

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