Performance Pressure and Depression Go Hand-in-Hand – How Today's Hardworking Professionals Are at Risk

Many of us constantly strive for worldly success. And it is normal and healthy to feel a drive to succeed, to improve, and to better ourselves.

Whether we want to be better within our own families, in our schooling, at our jobs, or with our own personal endeavors, a certain amount of “performance pressure” can help us grow and develop.

Often, however, this pressure to succeed becomes an overwhelming force.

What happens when performance pressure climbs so high that we feel compelled to succeed no matter the cost?

Below, we will take a closer look at the relationship between performance pressure and depression—and how today’s professionals are at risk.

Pressure in the Workplace

As noted at the outset, performance pressure can strike anywhere and at any time. No one is immune, regardless of their age or social status. Working professionals, however, seem to be particularly at risk for developing depression due to the pressures to succeed.

Perhaps ironically, it is these successful people who are often the most susceptible to mental health struggles. High achievement, especially within the workplace, often comes at a price.

In order for a hardworking professional to succeed or rise in their chosen career, they will have to make sacrifices. Obvious examples include working longer hours, putting extra time in at home or at work to prepare for meetings and presentations, and traveling more frequently. These are just a handful of the different sacrifices that a working professional may make along the way.

And having to make these sacrifices usually only increase with time. Performance pressure in the workplace steadily continues to grow along with success. Typically, the more successful a person becomes, the more will be expected of them. Thus, as business leaders climb the ladder and rise higher in their ranks, the pressure to perform climbs with them.

Depression and Success

The most successful and hardworking professionals in today’s society are also some of the most busy. As noted above, many high-achieving business people make sacrifices of their time in order to further the pursuit of their career. And as performance pressure rises and personal time and freedom decrease, they are bound to experience effects to their mental and emotional well-being.

In fact, performance pressure and the need to succeed often exist hand-in-hand with depression. How? This can be explained in several different ways.

No Time for Self-Care

Depression thrives when we do not take care of our physical and mental well-being. Typically, if we are busy chasing workplace dreams, other things in our life become less of a priority. Self-care is usually one of the first things to fall to the wayside.

Working professionals who do not take the time to sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate, relax, or socialize will quickly find themselves unhappy and perhaps alone. Making time for self-care is one of the best defenses against success-related depression.

Seeking Shallow Validation

As hardworking professionals, we are at risk for depression when we rely too heavily on our jobs to make us happy. Of course, success in the workplace is important to many of us. When we work hard and feel a pressure to succeed, it is only natural to seek for validation and approval from our colleagues.

At the end of the day, however, validation from our workplace performance cannot be our only source of confidence or joy. Depression usually creeps in when our lives are too unbalanced. So, the key to avoiding it is to enjoy workplace triumphs in moderation.

Heavy Criticism from Peers and Supervisors

Executives who are at the top of their company’s “food chain” must be prepared to handle regular complaints and criticism. Constant critique, though, can have its own perils, especially when someone is already prone to perfectionism.

Intense pressure to perform can cause feelings of self-doubt, guilt, failure, and worthlessness—all of which are known to lead to depression.

It is very important for hardworking professionals who are struggling with depression to seek the treatment they need. If you live near the West Village or the Upper West Side and would like to learn more about professional depression counseling, contact me today!