In this guide we are going to discuss whether introverts are more likely to be depressed.
Are introverts more likely to be depressed?
There is no direct cause and effect link between introversion and depression meaning that introverts are not more likely to be depressed simply because they are introverts.
There are various factors surrounding introversion and introvert behaviours that can put introverts at risk for depression.
In brief, these factors are:
- High levels of neuroticism.
- Lack of a sense of belonging.
- Less tendency to socialize thus, less social support
- Traumatic life experiences
- Poor ability to process stressors
- Extremely negative self-evaluation
There has been a deep held association between the personality dimension of introversion and depression. There have been studies done that show that there is a link between people who are introverts and their heightened likelihood to be afflicted with disorders such as major depressive disorders.
However, it is important to know that these studies are outdated. While introversion and depression do have some link shared between them, one does not cause the other.
If you are an introvert, it does not mean that your introversion will guarantee that you will struggle with depression.
Rather studies show that there are various factors that impact a person because of their introverted lifestyle which might cause the development of disorder which impacts their quality of life.
Introverts are not doomed to depression and an unsatisfying life because of their personality and choice of lifestyle. If you are an introvert, there are many things you can do to improve your life and mental health on your terms.
Let us take a closer look at what introversion is and how it impacts mental health; primarily in the case of depression. We will also explore how you as an introvert can live a happy and fulfilling life without having to change who you are.
The personality dimensions of introversion and extraversion originated in the early 1920s in the work of Carl Jung. According to his work, introversion or extroversion are innate to a person and it impacts how we see the world and ourselves.
Introversion is a personality type where the person prefers the world within them as opposed to the world outside of them. They prefer to ruminate over ideas and their own company over others. They are comfortable in solitude and prefer to take in ideas rather than give out ideas.
When it comes to social relationships, Introverts prefer to limit themselves to a smaller crowd and do not really enjoy spending time in large crowds. Some might even say that they find themselves exhausted when they engage with the larger world and prefer not to do it at all.
Being an introvert does not mean that they are shy nor that they struggle with low self esteem. A person who is introverted may engage with people quite well and they tend to find one-on-one interactions fulfilling which might be mistaken as them being shy or socially awkward.
Introverts may seem like they lack assertiveness and do not seem like go-getters. In fact, they are often on the lookout for opportunities that allow them reflection and learning. They observe before they act.
It is to be mentioned that the dimensions of introversion and extroversion are not extremes; rather these dimensions tend to have a range. People on this spectrum can share both behavioural traits of an extrovert or an introvert depending on situational factors.
These dimensions do not determine their value as people nor do they determine whether a person will have a successful and fulfilling life. We have to understand that people are unique in the way they experience the world and themselves.
However, the cultures we live in and the demands of society can pose a problem for certain personality types along with life experiences that can pose a threat to one’s mental health.
Let us take a look at how introversion can impact an individual’s mental well-being.
Introversion and depression
It is to be mentioned that research has found that introversion does play a part in the development of mental disorders such as depression. However , introversion is not the only determining factor. Introversion has been linked to depression when there are other factors present.
Let us take a closer look at introversion in the context of other factors which may have a negative impact on a person’s mental health.
- Introverted people tend to have higher levels of neuroticism, a tendency to have more negative or distressing feelings and less optimism.
Introversion, with higher levels of neuroticism which may include self doubt, anxiety, irritability, and the inability to regulate emotions may cause a person to be more susceptible to mental health related problems such as depression.
- Introversion is a personality type that is not understood nor preferred by the larger world. Especially in cultures where being assertive and a go getter is highly valued. This may cause a person who is introverted like they do not belong.
This can cause a lot of distress to people who are naturally included to be more reflectors than doers. This distress can lead a person to change the way he is and the way he deals with the world.
An introverted person might force him to join large social circles because of his job only to find himself unhappy and exhausted. This can have a profound impact on his ability to enjoy his work, his rest, and his life in general which may cause psychological problems.
- Being introverts prefer to keep their social world small and they tend to spend more time within their own inner world, they might not have enough opportunities to connect with other people on an emotionally deep level.
This might affect the quality of relationships they have with other people, making them feel dissatisfied with their life and experience loneliness which can cause them to evaluate their sense of self and well-being negatively.
When these evaluations and beliefs begin to impact their thoughts, behavior, and emotions, they may experience anxiety, sadness, dissatisfaction. When their ability to manage these issues are subpar, they may begin to feel worthless or hopeless about their own lives which are symptoms of depression.
- Traumatic life experiences have been found to be connected with social withdrawal, higher neuroticism, and lower self esteem. All of which may lead a person to become more introverted.
When introverted people experience trauma they may have poor ability to process the trauma, especially in individuals who do not have well developed processes of emotional self regulation.
They may also be unable to express themselves and seek support from others all of which can heighten the risk of suicide and depression.
- Because they are more reflective, distorted beliefs and cognitive symptoms can cause an introverted individual to have unhealthy views of themselves and the world.
If an introverted individual is not well adjusted and their socialization of the world has not allowed them to develop an optimistic and healthy view of others and themselves, they may struggle with thoughts and beliefs systems that are extremely critical and pessimistic. This can lead to problems related to anxiety and depression.
Positive mental health as an introvert
As mentioned earlier, if you are introverted it does not mean that you are doomed to an unsuccessful and unfulfilling life. You being an introvert does not mean that you are less than everyone else.
Having a positive state of mental health is not only determined by one’s personality. There are many factors that determine a person’s state of psychological adjustment.
Here are some things that you can do to maintain a positive state of mental health as an introvert:
- Seek experiences that instill positive emotions
Positive emotions have been found to be linked to a higher experience of well-being. Taking moments of your day, your week to engage in activities that bring you joy.
This can involve activities that actually instill in you joy- meaning that it can be something that extroverts don’t really consider as “fun”.
It is important that these activities are authentic to who you are- it can be taking a solitary picnic, a visit to the library, or a day to simply watch the anime you want to, or to simply stay in your room and relax.
The intent is to engage in these activities mindfully- without judgement and by being present as you engage in these moments. Choose experiences that bring you joy no matter how different it might be from what other people prefer.
- Engage in flow
Take time, an appointed day, to engage in an activity that allows you to be one with the activity. Positive psychologist calls this “flow”- complete immersion of your attention, focus, and self into what you are doing.
The activity can be painting, writing, reading a book, taking a walk, or a night to stargaze. The intent is to set clear goals, eliminate distractions, and to challenge yourself to a healthy degree all the while doing something that you actually enjoy.
Research finds that engaging in flow can help increase a sense of happiness, encourage positive personal growth, and a sense of being self-actualized.
- Build positive relationships
Building positive relationships doesn’t mean you have to make friends with everyone you come across but rather it involves taking the time to develop trust, respect, and mutual understanding between two people.
This will require you to be able to communicate with the people in your life, the ones you want a deeper and more meaningful relationship with.
While you might be a good listener, taking the time to talk about yourself can be one way to build an equal partnership. It is also very important to discuss boundaries with the people around you so that your needs and theirs are understood and expectations are set to be realistic.
- Pursue meaning
Positive psychology posits that when we apply our strengths and virtues such as courage, kindness, loyalty etc for something greater than ourselves we begin to develop a meaningful life.
You can apply these innate qualities to improve your relationships, your work ethic, and even do some social good. You can develop meaning out of your relationship with the people you choose to keep close, your job, your religion and spirituality as well.
In this guide we have explored how introversion impacts a person’s life and how it can possibly be connected to depression. We have also explored what an introvert can do to pursue a life that is fulfilling.
Frequently asked questions related to “Are introverts more likely to be depressed?”
Are introverts more sad?
Introverts can seem to be sad or struggle with low moods because they are more vulnerable than extraverts to depression and decreased mental well-being because they tend to have lower self-esteem, have less social support, and higher tendency towards neuroticism and pessimism.
Is introversion related to depression?
Introversion is simply part of your personality, while depression is a mental health condition. One does not cause the other however, the risks of depression become higher due to various factors related to introversion such as lack of expression, negative beliefs of themselves and the world, lack of support.
Do introverts have more anxiety?
Anxiety has been found to be more prevalent amongst introverts however, introverts do not cause anxiety. Rather introversion related cognition and beliefs can worsen anxiety.
Are introverts mentally ill?
No. Introverts are not mentall ill. While their behaviours which often involve social withdrawal, more time alone, their reluctance to engage with others and opportunities can seem almasring to people who do not know them, it does not mean that they are not well-adjusted psychologically.
Is introvert a disorder?
Introversion is one of many possible healthy personality types and is not a disorder. An introvert can have a well adjusted sense of self and can live healthy lives however it can become a problem if their introversion leads to anxiety and depression.