Dr. Judith Logo

High Functioning Depression

Why I’m Conducting The First of Its Kind Study on High-Functioning Depression

Group of seven women, presumably healthcare professionals, smiling and standing together in a hallway. they are wearing a mix of scrubs and casual business attire.


High-Functioning Depression (HFD) is a complex mental health phenomenon that is not yet recognized by the DSM-5 that often goes unnoticed due to one’s ability to maintain their daily lives and functioning at high levels. In this blog, I want to share with you the reasons behind my decision to conducted the first of-its-kind study in HFD. As a renowned psychiatrist and researcher, I believe this study has the potential to make a significant impact on mental health awareness and possibly how we support those who identify as experiencing HFD.

Understanding HFD

Before we delve into the study, let’s first understand what HFD entails. High-Functioning Depression is characterized by individuals experiencing depressive symptoms while still effectively managing their daily responsibilities at high levels and these individuals do not acknowledge or report being distressed. This unique aspect of HFD makes it challenging to identify and address.

My Research Journey and Lab

I’m proud to lead a team of ten talented women who serve as clinical research coordinators and physicians. Together, we are dedicated to developing and exploring novel treatments for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, as well as more complex conditions such and dementia.

My lab is the first of its kind to study High-Functioning conditions, including depression, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, postpartum depression, and OCD. We have developed original psychometric scales for mood and anxiety, as well as wellness scales to test products so that they are evidence-based.

Recognizing the Need

The need for this study became evident through my interactions with patients in Manhattan who didn’t fit the traditional box of depression but were still showing signs of depression. These individuals were struggling to identify what is known as anhedonia, and I saw firsthand that they were searching for answers and support. Too often, people with HFD are overlooked or turned away because they don’t fit the mold of loss of functioning in depression. It’s a condition that has been ignored for far too long and is likely a prodromal period of depression or other mental health conditions.

Objectives and Goals

My study aims to achieve several critical objectives:

  • Increased Awareness: By shedding light on HFD, I hope to increase awareness about this often-overlooked mental health phenomenon.
  • Accurate identification of symptoms: Developing more precise criteria for HFD can lead to earlier detection and intervention.
  • Tailored Treatment: The study aims to explore possible treatment strategies tailored to individuals with HFD, addressing their unique challenges.
  • Reduced Stigma: By destigmatizing mental health issues, I aim to encourage more open conversations about mental well-being.

Importance of the Study

Importance of the Study

  • Understanding HFD is vital for several reasons:
  • Unseen Struggles: HFD often hides behind a facade of normalcy, leaving individuals to grapple with their struggles in isolation.
  • Early Intervention: Early detection and treatment may prevent the worsening of symptoms and improve long-term outcomes.
  • Holistic Well-Being: Mental health is a crucial component of overall well-being. Recognizing and addressing HFD is essential for living a fulfilling life.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

Conducting research on mental health conditions comes with its set of challenges and ethical considerations. Ensuring the well-being and privacy of participants, adhering to ethical research practices, and maintaining the highest standards of confidentiality are paramount. The study was presented and submitted to an IRB board last year.

Call to Action

As the study progresses, it’s essential for everyone to stay informed about its outcomes and implications. Supporting research in mental health, led by board certified clinicians is a step toward a more compassionate and understanding society. I hope that other labs and researchers begin to explore the phenomenon of HFD so that we understand how to support people who identify as living with HFD to live better lives.


The of it’s kind study on High-Functioning Depression is not just an academic endeavor; it’s a personal mission driven by my passion for understanding and addressing the complexities of mental health. With my expertise and dedication, I believe we can create a world where mental health is understood, valued, and supported.

You can take this insightful quiz at Dr. Judith’s High Functioning Depression Quiz for a better understanding of your experiences. Keep in mind that this is in no way a diagnosis and that these tools may be useful when discussing a treatment plan and diagnosis with your licensed provider

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for personalized guidance. Dr. Judith Joseph does not endorse specific products or treatments mentioned in this content. Use this information at your own discretion.


More related resources

Book Dr. Judith

Let's work Together

Would you like to have Dr. Judith on your show or publication?

Dr. Judith
Dr. Judith is a multi-faceted board certified Psychiatrist, Media Consultant and award-winning Content Creator
new york web development
© 2024 Dr. Judith. All rights reserved.

Book Dr. Judith

Let's work Together

NOTE: We are not accepting new patients at this time, consider using Psychology Today to find a provider near you