High Achievers & Depression
Many career-driven people are high achievers. They strive for their best and don’t stop until it’s reached. They’re the envy of their co-workers, and their bosses do nothing but praise them.
They’ve got it all.
However, they’ve also got a secret.
These high achievers are sad. They feel low, and nothing seems to make it better. They have trouble eating, trouble sleeping, and their personal relationships are falling apart. Eventually, they feel like they have no real value, and that they’re worthless, and they don’t see an end in sight.
So they throw themselves into work, giving it their all. They succeed, but they don’t see this. They only see the mistakes. They focus on what they could have done differently, not what they did well. These self-defeating behaviors reinforce the way they feel about themselves. It soon becomes a downward spiral that can have devastating impacts.
Perfectionism and High Achievers
High achievers are goal driven, complex thinkers and multi-taskers. Sometimes it goes too far, and these high achievers become perfectionists, unwilling to accept anything that’s not perfect. Mistakes are unacceptable, both from themselves and from others. When mistakes do happen, these high achievers obsess over them, telling themselves they’re a failure for letting it happen.
Even when a high achiever gains accomplishments, it’s not enough to boost their low self-esteem. They feel unworthy of the recognition and struggle to accept compliments in their work, always seeing what could have been better.
Need for Control
Depression often spawns from feeling like you have no control, and it’s this control the high achiever is seeking. By pouring everything they have into work, they don’t stop until they can’t give anymore. They refuse to ask for help and do everything themselves because they need to be in control the situation. When the rest of their life feels out of control, work becomes their safe place, a place they pour all their effort into.
The depressed high achiever wears a mask. It says confident and self-assured, friendly and outgoing. However, it’s only a mask used to cover up who they feel they are. Escapism is common among depressed high achievers, and they often act the opposite of how they feel. When they’re low and don’t feel like doing anything, they immerse themselves in work, going in early and staying late. When they feel anxious before the crowded board room, they exhibit confidence and pride. But it’s all fake, a way to get through the day and escape their reality.
There Is Help
When you’re depressed, it doesn’t matter how successful you are. It will never be enough to pull you out of your depression. To overcome this devastating disorder, you need to make changes in the way you think and the value you hold. The focus needs to switch from what you do, to who you are.
High achievers with depression have to learn to find validation for themselves, not through the praise and thoughts of others. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including therapy, developing new coping mechanisms, lifestyle changes, and maybe even medication.
But there is help. Depression is curable.