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Entrepreneur Depression is Manageable

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Just like working in a startup, persistence and knowledge acquisition go a long way to solving entrepreneur depression. In an eye-opening study by Dr Freeman it was found that 49% of entrepreneurs have a mental health condition or mental health history and 30% of entrepreneurs have depression in their lifetime. These are big numbers!

There are both person centred factors and system factors that need to be taken into account when working through depression, or when trying to prevent it. Entrepreneurs tend to be more creative, and by default this personality type is more likely to encounter mental health concerns. This isn’t a bad thing or wrong – we absolutely need creative people in this world.

“In fact, I’d argue that entrepreneurs are growing our economies and deserve more support with us knowing that there is a predisposition to mental health issues.”

In addition, genes also come into play. The good news is that, if you’re an entrepreneur and you know you have a family history of depression, you can prepare yourself so you get better faster or at best you don’t fall into depression at all.

How do I know if I have depression?

Take a look at the difference between anxiety and depression type symptoms:

It’s important to acknowledge if you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms recently (or for a long time), so you can start to think about how to reduce them and overcome them. Don’t think that you must “get rid of depression symptoms” totally (although that would be nice). In fact, if you have genetic predisposition to them, annihilating them will be tough. You can however make them way less impactful.

Actions to take to start solving some of these depression symptoms:

You will require focus and persistence to start reducing these symptoms. If you can take the following actions, you will have a head start. If you have some interesting and unhelpful thoughts that’s where a professional comes in.

1. Sleep. I’m not kidding. You’re brain literally can’t function at it’s best unless you’re achieving about 7-9 hours per night.

2. Get up at the same time every day for the rest of your life. Still not kidding. Annihilate decisions from your life. What time you need to set your alarm should be one of them. This is because you get a finite amount of willpower each day, and you don’t want to use it up where it’s not needed. This helps you make good decisions all day.

3. You are not your startup. Find a way to not attribute your worth to you how well your startup does. This is hard – particularly for first time founders, and it involves challenging your mindset.

4. Eat right. Gut health equals mental health. Watch your caffeine, sugar and fat. If you are reading this thinking “well, I’m bad with all of those” choose 1 goal for 1 issue and go hard. E.g. 1-2 caffeinated beverages per day only. Substitute other cravings with a walk around the block or a conversation with a peer.

5. Notice when you say (either verbally or in your head) the word “but”. “I would exercise more but….”. “But” is typically a word followed by an excuse. Get it out of your language. Instead challenge those thoughts or say what you really mean. “I would exercise but I don’t want to so I’m not going to”. Lying to yourself sucks and will make you feel like crap.

6. Watch your alcohol and ‘other drugs’. Alcohol is a depressant and so is a bunch of ‘other drugs’. When you’re feeling good and you’ve not been depressed in a while, you might be able to have a couple of drinks. If you wake up the following day though and feel horrible, that’s a pretty big clue for you to stop drinking - at least until you’ve got yourself sorted.

7. Reflect. Literally schedule in 1 hour of reflection time per week. If you don’t, you will miss vital signs about your business and your relationships. Think about what you must do to ensure you treat this hour like a meeting with investors. You would turn up to that meeting. Usually this involves getting away from wherever you work. Head to a park, a coffee shop, do a hike with ‘reflection intermission’. When you have an epiphany, you’ll know it’s worth it!

Take a look at our services and also have a quick read up about me because 70% of outcomes in performance coaching sessions are attributed to our rapport i.e. do we like each other/resonate with each other?

And, If you’re managing a team, check out my article on anxiety and ghosting people.

Feel free to leave comments here – usually if you have a question you won’t be alone, and it’s helpful for me to answer them publicly so others get benefit out of it too.

Alexandra Whitehead

MBA, BSc(Qld), PGDip(Psych) CEO, Well Propelled USA

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