High/medium/low functioning

Continuing the discussion from Everyone from Canada is high functioning:

We all talk about such things but how would you define the difference and what are you comparing to(vs people without mental illness? vs other people with severe mental illness?)?

I would say that for many there is no across the board answer in that one may be functioning better in some respects than others. I guess we all know the person who is doing well occupationally but not socially and vice versa.
Then there are those who seem to function well despite ongoing symptoms, and those who seem to have less textbook symptoms who are not doing so well occupationally or socially.


i consider myself low functioning cuz my motivation is too low …!!! pixel is fortunate with symptoms …!! he works full time in demanding job…!!! i am jealous of him…!!!

For me it’s hard to tell. There is the functioning as measured in the context of just having a severe mental illness, and in the context of also possibly having Aspergic traits(or similar) and learning difficulties.

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As regards my cognitive capacity, I consider myself to be high-functioning. I can solve abstract problems if need be. I can hold my own in almost any kind of political of philosophical debate, although I’m not fond of such discussions.
However, my motivation is very very low and it impacts my overall functioning. I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, brushing my teeth and doing basic chores. I have an empty mind (the opposite of “racing thoughts”) and spend a great deal of time just staring into space. I also have anhedonia, can’t enjoy life anymore.
So bottom line, I see myself as a low-functioning individual and it’s clearly not psychological or comorbidity-related. It’s purely schizofrenia-related, the so-called negative symptoms are such a burden…


Yeah my functioning is deceptive. I can keep up with school and work (most of the time) but my self care is crap. Sometimes I don’t shower for days or brush my hair. My room is a horrible mess at all times. I don’t have the energy to clean up trash and it’s just everywhere, piled from the trash cans and whatnot. I don’t brush my teeth. When I don’t have schoolwork to do during the day I am sleeping. Sometimes I skip all my meals and just have a snack because getting food is too much effort. My nails grow out crazy long. I don’t wear makeup. I basically always wear pajamas or clothes resembling pajamas (sweats and a loose tshirt), when I get dressed because often I don’t get dressed and just throw a jacket over pjs, and will wear the same pair of pants and bra for a month or more…I never wear socks because putting them on is too much… I’ve been so dead to the world that I couldn’t even turn over the turn the lights on when the sun went down and I just laid there in the darkness for hours until my roommate got back and turned the light on.

So don’t judge a book by it’s cover, basically. Just because someone attends school or has a job doesn’t mean there aren’t issues elsewhere.


I used to be high functioning in most aspects of my life but got really ill during my second major relapse. Now I depend on my mom for appointments, laundry, going out to run errands with me and I can’t travel outside of my neighbourhood unless its in a car.

I suck at picking up on social cues with new people, even with my friends sometimes but I try.

My physical self-care is okay/crappy-ish, I bathe everyday but mostly because I find the water therapeutic but I also let my nails grow and I don’t brush my hair but I brush my teeth?! lol.

I cook and do dishes and have one hobby that I can actually concentrate on (crochet) but my concentration/attention span is pretty bad at the moment.

I would say I’m like medium/lowish functioning.


All of my past and current docs agree that I am Medium functioning.
There was a time in the past where I was more High functioning.

I was working full time as a substitute teacher and was married, owned my own home etc…


In no particular order.

  • Finances . Reasonably good with this. Main bills paid by direct debit. Occasional splurges but account in the black. No major debts

  • Housework. Poor. Place untidy/messy . Combination of low motivation and poor organisational skills . Get overwhelmed easily re doing the tasks in a proper sequence.

  • Cooking. Can cook to a basic level but mainly live on ready meals and takeaways. Low motivation and organisation again a factor. Prefer one casserole dish/frying pan/pot meals. Meals involving minimal instructions and ingredients.

  • Shopping . Groceries online. Re cooking from scratch and shopping. Find it hard to organise shopping to do more than 1-2 such meals a week. Online grocery shopping is easier but items meant for cooking from scratch often have very short sell by dates.
    Not good at stocking food cupboards or making shopping lists. Other shopping- mainly Amazon.

  • Hygiene/ self care. Not good. Get anxious about washing and can go days without doing so. Washing hair - time between washes varies considerably. Rarely remember to brush teeth. Can go days without changing clothes.

  • Laundry. Do it as when I have enough dirty clothes for a wash.

  • social interaction. Very little social contact . Stay indoors a lot. No friends.

  • Hobbies Revolve around the internet.

  • Work . Never worked. Severe social anxiety and social interaction difficulties having been a major barrier. Limited in what I would be able to do due to cognitive issues .

  • Travelling . Don’t venture far from home. Poor sense of direction.


I don’t seem to be very high functioning socially, and vocationally wise and I no longer seem to care about it. I am managing an apartment and its living requirements but if my benefits were cut off I’d more than likely be homeless. So although I can do the laundry, cook and buy my own food, keep up with my meds, am stable illness wise, and clean up occasionally I am about as low functioning as they come.

A big plus for you @firemonkey is that you can live by yourself.

I’m too paranoid to live by myself.

One of the reasons why I applied for Supportive Housing.

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A major factor for me is that most of what allows me to live by myself was put in place when my wife was still alive. I’ve had to make a few minor adjustments since but not much.

I am dreading moving as it will be the first time I’ve lived in a place wholly independently ie never with a partner at some point.

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I am able to live alone and pay bills, though I got married 2 years ago. I can shop and I bathe regularly (these days). I finished graduate school. I’ve had long-term full-time jobs. I also exercise regularly and take care of my pets (even daily cleaning of the cat box) and the trees on my property. I brush, floss, and wash my face, daily. BUT my yard tends to be a nightmare of dead weeds, I am ALWAYS late paying the water bill because I can’t pay it online, I couldn’t have finished graduate school had it not been online, I’m really worried about looking for work and I still sometimes forget to take my meds. For the last few years, I have been referred to as high functioning by my therapist. I think I fluctuate.

It always seems like high functioning tends to be defined by work/school/parental success and whatever falls apart beneath that rung is of little concern, though it probably shouldn’t be that way. I’ve heard that IQ tends to predict functioning with people with IQs around 90-100 being low to medium in functioning and IQs over 120 being high. I imagine there’s a mental checklist of sorts that doctors and therapists use to determine people’s functioning. I also imagine that the work/school/parenting thing gives a person a lot of points and then other activities add more points to that. In the end, if a person has enough positive points, they are high functioning and if they have too many negative points, they are low functioning. In other words, I don’t think there’s a magic combo that makes a person one or the other, just multiple daily wins or losses that add up to a level of functioning.

I’ve heard that IQ gives a significant advantage when coping with mental illness. Mine is 121…

Then again you have geniuses who were ravaged by their disorder like John Nash or Elyn Saks. They may be doing ok now but they were in and out of hospitals their whole adult lives and they’re certainly smarter than me.

Interesting question. I feel that I’ve been low functioning for quite some time since getting ill. I’m stable but I don’t think I’m well largely due to cognitive impairments. I’m concerned these could last a long time and I won’t recover the focus and attention span that I was accustomed to all my life. This has me upset and in fact suicidal. There’s a lack of depth to my emotions as well. Because of these issues and being jobless and having little to do with myself and stuck in my room most of the time, I have to say I’m low functioning.

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It’s hard to place the minority of us who have spiky profiles. For example I have superior/very superior verbal intelligence but my non verbal/practical/spatial intelligence is considerably lower.
I very much fit in the above average/highly intelligent category but with probable learning difficulties.
As well as the above mentioned issues, ie non verbal etc, I have executive functioning problems especially with organising and planning.

I would say my functioning very much fits in the middle range.

Other than family, my barber, the gym and an occasional AA meeting I literally don’t exist.
Oh yea I mean I have a birth certificate and social but one never knows when I’m going to dissapear for two years.

There is literally no garantee that I will not become an invalid again tomorrow. I cannot establish roots.

If they had medication that worked and didn’t ruin every other aspect of your life, I bet half the people on this site would just up and start living like everybody else.

I think some common measurements of functional outcomes used by clinicians in schizophrenia are: work outcome, social outcome, independent living skills acquisition. There are certain milestones which people with sz tend to rarely meet, living independently, going to school, having social relationships, and getting married are a few which are sometimes used to measure a person’s level of functionality.

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I read somewhere that marriage is the #1 predictor of recovery for schizophrenics. If that’s true, I think it says a lot about illness in general.