Do Entrepreneurs Suffer from Depression?

It is no secret that depression is more common among entrepreneurs than in the general population. On average, 7% of the population suffers from depression, while a whopping 30% of entrepreneurs suffer from depression. This means that entrepreneurs experience more anxiety than employees. According to the latest Gallup-Healthways welfare index, 34% of employers (4 percentage points higher than other workers) reported that they were worried, and 45% of employers said they were stressed, 3 percentage points higher than other workers.

Research by Michael Freeman has revealed that entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to report having a mental health condition, with certain conditions being more prevalent among founders and character traits making them more susceptible to mood swings. NHS research from England shows that one in four adults suffers from mental illness, and being an entrepreneur increases this risk even further. It is known that entrepreneurs often juggle many roles and face countless setbacks (loss of customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, personnel problems), all while struggling to pay payroll. This intense focus and obsession is one of the main causes of poor mental health among entrepreneurs.

Chronic stress is not a mental disorder, but it is a sign of poor mental health as it brings feelings of hopelessness, lack of direction and lack of importance to an entrepreneur. Risk-taking failures, unmet goals and stagnant progress can become fertile ground for business depression. Mental health resources are limited for most Americans, but employers often opt for basic (or no) insurance without much coverage for mental health problems. Corrado soon discovered that adversity can hit hard and fast after a successful entry into the venture with an award-winning business plan and fundraising records. It is important for entrepreneurs to share their experiences with depression with colleagues and other entrepreneurs in order to encourage others to ask for help.

Dubowec encourages entrepreneurs to take a step back and examine the experience of depression within a broader context. She challenges business owners, educators and legislators to reconsider toxic tropes about the “entrepreneurial mentality”.Employers should always take advantage of the option of regular mental health reviews through brief counseling sessions and psychometric tests. After all, it is only through understanding our own experiences with depression that we can help others who may be struggling.

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