Can You Be Ambitious and Depressed?

In July 17, 2018

Can You Be Ambitious and Depressed?

The typical image that people associate with depression is someone who can’t get out of bed, is unemployed or can’t get much done because of their feelings. The reality that people with very high ambitions who work very hard can also develop symptoms of depression. In fact the desire to be ambitious and depressed are often linked in ambitious people suffering from mental health issues.

People with ambitions may pursue their passions at least partially as a way to escape their feelings of depression. They may feel that once they have arrived at their goal of success that their sadness will be gone but often that is not the case. Achieving certain levels in their career does not always resolve issues from the past or areas of emotional darkness that ambitious people experience.

Ambitious and successful people can often fall into the trap of believing that once they reach a feeling of superiority or being the best at what they do, all of their feelings of self-doubt will end. Striving for superiority actually has been shown to cause more feelings of depression rather than happiness. People that compare themselves to others and want to be the best tend to feel more depressed and insecure .

Ambitious people can also become addicted to productivity and base too much of their self-worth on their career. They may feel that they need to work constantly and continue striving for success even though it is affecting them negatively. In order to resolve the “success syndrome”, it is important for people to learn how to find their own inherent self-worth outside of what they do or what they have achieved.

Healing from depression for an ambitious person means taking a step back from their career goals to focus on finding inner happiness that doesn’t rely on success.

By Dr. Reuben Vaisman-Tzachor

Primary Therapist