Depression in Successful People: Why Do They Suffer?

successful yet depressed
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When it comes to depression in successful people, financially speaking or otherwise, most people give them the cold shoulder.

“Man, if I had all of this money I would get me something nice”

“Dude, you are dating a supermodel! What can be wrong with your life?”

“You are your own boss, you can go to sleep whenever you want!”

Indeed, people tend to only see the half-full part of the glass – that is, when looking at someone else.
You see, we humans are negative by nature and one part of that negativity is noticing how well literally everyone else seems to be doing.

Except for you, that is.
The neighbor’s grass is always greener, as they say.
You will find it far easier to cheer someone on and show them just how awesome they are, but when you need such support it suddenly becomes a whole lot harder to find those positive things.

In that regard, successful people have it far worse than anyone else.
When other people think that your life is great you aren’t allowed to complain, you aren’t allowed to “feel sorry for yourself”.

If a fancy-looking multi-millionaire entrepreneur walks into a bar, sits down, and exclaims loudly “life sucks”, he is going to get some pretty outraged feedback.

But why?

Success is stressful

No deeper connections or understanding

The biggest factor is that we can’t sympathize with them, we can’t fathom having all of this money, power, and status yet still being unhappy.

I mean, these are all things that we are striving for in our daily lives, things that we live without just fine (well, most of us).
We don’t take it well when someone who has what we want just disregards it.

In this case, we can’t connect to anyone who we can’t understand – and quite frankly, we can’t understand what’s it like to be successful yet depressed.

The other reason that we can’t connect to these people is our sense of fairness.

By fairness, I mean that we, as humans, want people to receive equal and just treatment.
Thing is, fairness is an innate quality, it’s a part of our very nature as humans – we want to see the world, and everything around it, be “fair”.
Yet we hear a lot that “life isn’t fair”, and that’s true.

So when you see this rich, influential manager sit down and talk about he’s experiencing money problems, you can’t help but scoff at them.

They are having trouble with cash?” I hear you say “My partner and I can barely afford rent, much less a sports car collection!”

Sure, I am exaggerating here a bit, but the point is this – most of us can’t support successful people through their struggles due to how we tend to look down on their problems.
I mean, with all of their accomplishments, they shouldn’t have right to complain – it’s not fair!

But here’s the thing – it is fair, and they do have the right to complain.

Massive success brings with it a massive headache

Be it as it may, successful people aren’t getting anywhere near the support that they should be getting (as to ‘why’, we will get to it in a moment).

And frankly, it shows.
Data argues that people with higher levels of authority at work are more likely to experience depression, with men having it worse in that regard (Despite the fact that women are generally more prone to depression).

In fact, there is evidence that CEOs are experiencing depression at twice the normal rate, as well as other, significant mental disorders.

Crazy, right? Not so much when you discover that wealthier countries, in general, have higher rates of depression than those who aren’t.

Now, some of you may be asking yourselves – is money a cause of depression? I mean, financial stress is a cause for anxiety, and seeing as anxiety can cause depression it’s not far-fetched that having too much money can be as bad as having too little.

Oddly enough, this isn’t wholly correct.
Money is one thing, but it’s not actually a cause for depression by itself, nor are any other “achievements of success”

Based on data from the OECD, the “better life index” seems to peak at around 74,000$/year, actually dropping from that point on a little bit.

money and happiness

 

It’s not about the money, power or success

Like I said before, data seems to be largely conclusive in that regard, but not because of what you may think.
The truth is that money, by itself, attributes very little to depression, and can grant you many things that would make you happier (and to hell with anyone who says otherwise!)

And influence is something that we could all use – power and success are two driving forces in our daily lives

But the journey and events leading to that success actually put a huge strain on you without you even noticing it!

Obsession

My dad has a friend who is the owner of a small, but a rather successful human resources company.
He makes well over 100,000$ a month in profits, but that wasn’t always how it was.

He first began his way as a salesperson in some other company, building up experience, getting promoted, receiving commissions and so on.
Then he went and started his own company, eventually stumbling onto success after years of hard work.

Now, why am I telling you this?
The obsession here is twofold:

The need for more 

The first reason he went to sales in the first place was money, and he went through the ranks because he wanted to be influential, and free as a result. He opened a company because it embodies both influence and money; after all, who is richer and more powerful than the owner?
The problem was that he couldn’t let go, couldn’t bring himself to slow down – deadlines needed to be met, money needed to be met.

His wife divorced him, he barely had time for his children, and somehow everything seemed to be second place to him.
Sure, he had money, influence, and power, but he lost his life – something which affects him to this day

It’s never enough

If you told a goldfish that you remember events from 10 years ago it would praise you for your memory.

On the same note, when someone scales himself up, he begins seeing things differently.
Suddenly, even 5 million dollars aren’t enough, and you are just as close to bankruptcy as you were when you started.
And why does everything seems to be falling apart around here? We aren’t having any increase in customers!

These kind of thoughts are highly irrational, but this very pattern of thought is related to anxiety – something which a lot of successful people suffer from (no surprises there).

Stress is really a killer, and anxiety can lead to depression so easily that you wouldn’t even see it coming.

Loneliness

The boss is your boss, he’s not your friend – he is your boss.
But that’s his problem – he drowns himself in a world of hurt without meaning to.

As they say, it’s lonely at the top, and loneliness is a major factor for depression

I actually discussed this topic in an article once before, but the basic rundown is that depression causes loneliness, but loneliness can also lead to depression.

Celebrities, for example, are always surrounded by people, but this isn’t the measure of sociability either.
Some of them are quite detached, you may know a lot of trivia on Angelina Jolly, but you don’t actually know her, very few people do.

That’s what wearing masks does to you.
Other successful, although not as famous, people are prone to this very same loneliness – they don’t live their daily lives, the don’t make friends, they don’t spend enough time with their family, their drive ends up consuming them.

This process is consuming, whether you (or they) realize it or not

Failure

Nobody is born capable.

Sure, you may learn lots and lots of theory, read plenty of books and discuss lots of subjects in depth, but when push comes to shove you still aren’t going to make it on your first try.

I mean, you could learn theory on how to play the violin, but until you stick your neck out there you aren’t going to get anywhere.

And guess what? You are going to be failing, a lot, and unlike most people, I am not going to try and tell you how failure is the gateway to all success and all that jazz.

Failure sucks, and no amount of positive reinforcement is going to change that fact.
The worst part is that successful people fail a lot – and although they get back up and try again (if they didn’t they wouldn’t be successful), there is still this gnawing feeling, itching and poking at their sense of self-worth.

And after they become successful? The situation only gets worse!
Say you are this executive, you are responsible for an entire department, composed of 7 teams of 8 people each.
In other words, 56 people are working under you.

Here’s the real kicker, though – they all fail, a lot, and their failures directly reflect on your performance.
So you are responsible for putting 56 people, not including yourself, into gear.

Soon enough you will find yourself unable to stretch yourself over all of these people, even with the team leaders providing support, mistakes are still going to happen.

Their failures are your failures, you are the one with the big, crucial deadlines after all.
They can get fired, but you are the one who can’t afford to fail – yet you can’t help but fail to meet your goals, at least from time to time, and it’s not even really your fault!

People with power and control experience lots of failures, personal or otherwise, and grow very stressed out and cranky because of it.

Networking with a smile

It’s all about stress

The fact is that becoming successful is no walk in the park, it’s a journey of great hardship and work, not something that one would randomly achieve.

Sure, you might win the lottery, but most of these guys go broke very quickly either way.

Making more money, connections, investments and overall becoming more successful are all very difficult processes that can easily mess with your head.

Sure, it might not be easy for you to feel any pity towards a multi-millionaire business owner who seemingly gets his way every time, but you should recall that these are exactly the types of people who need help more than most.

After all, their problems are on a much bigger scale than yours are.
Data shows us this much.

So what can you do?

Nothing much other than listening.
Don’t ignore someone just because you think that he has a great life, that person’s struggles may be very real to them, even if they don’t seem like much to you.

Your support might really mean the world to them.

If you are said successful person, the only thing you can really do is to march onward.
You are, in a sense, an ideal pinnacle of our society – most people would say that you have it all.

Yet you remain unhappy.
My only advice for you would be to find someone who is in the same situation as you are and ask him about himself.

After all, the only people can really “get it” are those who have experienced it first hand.

So here’s a question – Do you know any successful people who are having it pretty bad?

Make sure to write your answers in the comment section below, I always read every single one of them.

If you got any questions then please send me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Email: VladOsipkov@projectconquest.org

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2 Replies to “Depression in Successful People: Why Do They Suffer?”

  1. I agree with everything I have just read and understand it fully but what is the solution I have unsuccessfully tried to sell my company three times in The last 10 years thinking that would resolve most of the problems.( all Sales attempts fell through )I employ 38 people I am 63 started my business in my back garden 35 years ago .
    All I want is to feel better and enjoy my success. I wake up every day thinking life is bad and it’s all going to fall apart
    Thanks Tom

    1. Hi Tom,

      I wish you the best of luck, thanks for stopping by!

      Cheers,
      Vlad

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