The best entrepreneurs are blessed with drive, ambition, and determination. These same go-getters with their enviable, take-charge personalities are also plagued by mental health issues that interfere with their everyday lives.
Faigy Mayer, 32, a young founder of an app development company, committed suicide by jumping off the roof of a New York City bar. Aaron Schwartz, 26 and a Reddit partner, hung himself. Founder of Ecomom, Jody Sherman, 47, shot himself. Depression knows no age or boundaries, but it does seem to hover over entrepreneurs like a dark cloud.
A recent study shows that 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental health problems, and at least 32% of them face two or more mental illnesses. In comparison to an estimated 6.7% of U.S. adults suffering from depression, these statistics are unsettling. The reported numbers are likely lower than the actual percentage of entrepreneur depression. Due to the unfortunate stigma sufferers of mental health issues face, many mental illnesses go unreported and untreated.
What is the Connection?
A key cause of the prevalence of entrepreneur depression is the stress they face on a daily basis. The vast majority of start-ups fail, 10% in the first year and a staggering 70% failing between two and five years. This fact, mixed with the impossibly long weeks, huge workloads, and financial problems facing new businesses, are stressors that lead to entrepreneur depression if left unchecked.
Aside from the factors at the office, home life can have a significant affect on mental health problems facing entrepreneurs as well. The long hours at the office and burden of personal responsibility to your family lead to a lack of sleep, loss of routine, and isolation from your main support group.
The personality that comes along with the entrepreneurial mindset is prone to mental health issues. The impossible goals they set for themselves combined with the nagging feeling of not being enough are a theme among those that admit to experiencing bouts of entrepreneur depression. When entrepreneurs feel behind the curve or that they are not as successful as they should be— no matter how impossibly high they set the bar for themselves— their milestones and victories become disappointments.
Signs of the Spiral
Depression comes in many forms, but there are several symptoms that act as a common threat among most cases. Disruptions in sleep patterns, lethargy, apathy, sudden weight loss or weight gain, and feelings of worthlessness and guilt are all red flags to watch out for.
Bringing Yourself Back
Sleep helps you recover from mental and physical exhaustion. Sleep disorders like insomnia contribute to mood changes resulting in edginess and irritability. Taking a break from emails and getting a good night’s rest is essential to recovering from a depressive cycle.
Exercise releases endorphins that enhance our self-esteem, confidence, and sense of well-being. It’s a natural mood booster that releases negative feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation.
Don’t fall victim to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Sometimes you can’t pull yourself out of the cycle alone. When your depression starts interfering with work, family, and day-to-day life, take the first step and seek assistance from a professional.