Why are comedians so depressed? (7 main causes)

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In this article, we will discuss the topic, “  Why are comedians so depressed?, a brief idea about Depression and it’s underlying symptoms, Comedy and Depression, mental health issues and concerns of comedians and some of the frequently asked questions in regards to the topic.

Comedians are depressed because:

  • Traumatic incidents in childhood and in early years
  • Audience being unresponsive 
  • Running out of content and theme 
  • They try to get rid of the dark and shadowed world by comedy
  • Being funny not always implies being happy
  • Creativity and mental health-related illnesses and issues are correlated
  • The need to keep the show running and engaged
  • Fear of hostile audience
  • Their need to create the content relatable and empathetic with the audience
  • It is the only means through which they get relief from anxiety and their dark world.

Depression

Depression is believed to be the key cause of disability around the world. It is a mood disorder characterised by the feeling of persistent and prolonged low mood, sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities: anhedonia, feeling down and low throughout the day, weeks and months. 

Although the feeling of sadness and loss of pleasure is familiar and a normal feeling to every one of us, depression is something that persists and causes severe impairment in an individual’s life. It can affect people from any age group ranging from children, adolescent, adult and geriatric population.

The duration of depressive episodes differs and varies from each individual wherein, for some cases, it lasts for about 2 weeks while in others it might persist for months and years.

Symptoms of Depression

Despite Depression being a mood disorder and causing severe impairment in the individual, there are other associated effects of depression in the everyday functioning of the individual. 

It can take a toll on one’s psychological health, physical health, job performance, social relation and overall well-being. 

The three noting symptoms of Depression are:

  • Fatigability, tiredness and feeling of exhaustion
  • Anhedonia, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Depressed mood or prolonged sadness

Some of the other signs and symptoms of Depression are:

  • Sustained and prolonged depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities or those that one enjoys doing
  • Loss of sexual drives
  • Fluctuations in body weight
  • Disruption in sleep cycle resulting in insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Muscle agitation, restlessness and twitches
  • Disruption and disturbance in speech
  • Fatigue and low energy in performing daily task
  • A feeling of worthlessness and excessive guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts on death, suicide and attempts for suicide.
  • Impairment in concentration and attention

These are some of the major signs and symptoms of Depression. The severity and the interference of these symptoms differ and varied individually owing to other underlying reasons.

Comedy and Depression

It was found and evident through the research of individuals dealing with major depression that humour could be a healthy coping mechanism for their depressive episodes.

And due to the failure in their coping mechanism, the individual often falls in the trap of depressive episodes.

Comedy often is known as a source of sorrow and is debated, but researchers have shown that it is at least believed to be a powerful tool to combat sorrow. It is an effective coping mechanism for depression.

Using comedy as a coping mechanism for those individuals at risk of depression and preventing further episodes of depression. Doing so can lead to a downward spiral of depression in the individual. When the initial episodes of depression are taken hold of properly, then the likelihood of developing further depressive episodes takes less time to trigger.

Apart from using humour and comedy as a coping mechanism, exposure to comedian series, humour or reframing stressful situations through humour and positivity itself reduces depressive symptoms and they feel the significantly lesser impact of negative effects.

Comedy can actually help the individual dealing with depression to broaden their adaptive tools and to better deal with the depressogenic experiences and build resilience in the long term.

Mental health of Comedian

In comedy, masking their genuine and real grief and struggle with comedy is a well-known and widely used coping mechanism for comedians.

Although comedy helps them to cope up with their traumatic experiences and situation better resulting in a positive life experience and greater psychological well being however don’t necessarily help them pull out of their mental trauma and the problems. 

The underlying mechanism behind the use of comedy and humour in different os situations to combat depressive symptoms is that it spares the person from the associated effect of the situations that naturally give rise to emotions such as low stress and anxiety. The ego of the person refuses or is reluctant to accept the reality that is to suffer. 

A study has shown that there is a negative correlation between lifespan and the funnier comedian.

For instance, Robin Williams is known for his role as a comedian and has a pleasant temperament earning lots of fans, yet he took away his own life in 2014.

He shared openly about his struggle with drug addiction and depression, having to check-in at rehabilitation centres and then relapsing. 

There are many comedians who also confessed about their struggle with mental health issues such as Marc Maron having severe depression, Jim Norton, Greg Giraldo etc.

It was revealed by many that most of the comedians who opt this as a career were actually using it as a coping mechanism for their survival because of early childhood episodes of trauma. Comedy has provided them with relief from early suffering and defence against panic and anxiety.

Comedian and Depression

There are different reasons for depression in comedians and it is often believed that comedians use this platform and opt the career for emotional vent out and to better manage their depressive symptoms. 

However, they often are battling with mental health-related issues and disorders. Some of the major causes of depression and other related mental health disorders in comedians are:

Being uncertain with their material of comedy

At times when the comedians run out of theme and content to share with their audience, they feel low and depressed and especially if this prolongs for sometime

Fear of having a hostile and unresponsive audience

Not having audiences that are responsive and reactive results in a low mood for the comedian. When the content shared by the comedian isn’t appreciated and doesn’t reach out to the audience, they tend to feel low.

The need and requirement to keep the show running

Since entertaining people and sharing their comedy is their career and that keeps them going, one often feels stressed out knowing that they will have to keep their show running and engaged.

Since they are paid to talk openly about mental health concerns

People rarely share openly about their journey of mental health-related issues and disorders, since they are actually the people who are paid to bring the discussion around mental health at the spotlight, failing to do that results in a severely depressed and low mood. 

Being funny is not always equals being happy and elated

Being funny and entertaining to the people and to the crowd doesn’t apply that the person is happy and elated. Thus, they are often vulnerable to depression and sadness.

They try to get rid of their own dark and shadowed world by being funny and entertaining others

During the phase of battling with depressive symptoms by entertaining others, there are times when they feel low and end up getting depressed.

They have higher intelligence and creativity often associated with a higher risk and vulnerability to depression.

Many comedians often have a split personality 

They often wear the mask of depression that helps them to face the world and respond to the darkness and despair they face but put them in a funny and never-ending spin and an abyss of despair.

Comedy is not always the best substitute

Although there is short term relief offered by the use of comedy in battling with symptoms of depression and other mental health-related illnesses, it is not always the best substitute and ways to ensure a safe, good and positive mental as well as physical health.

They are creative and seems to have higher rates of Depression

People with creative sides often have higher chances of diagnosing depression as well as bipolar disorders. Despite the unknown reasons, it is believed that there is a biological base in the emotional centre of the brain. 

Putting these aside, the greatest strength of comedians is their ability to create content from their personal tragedy to a message that the audience can relate to. 

FAQs: Why are comedians so depressed

What is the #1 cause of depression?

There is no particular cause of depression in an individual, rather there are a number of causes resulting in a depression in an individual such as an imbalance in chemical, hormones, social stressors, psychological trauma and experiences etc. 

What does it mean to be prone to depression?

Prone to depression means vulnerability to depression such as factors like death and loss of significant ones, other life stressors, grief, social stressors etc.

Does depression affect your intelligence?

There is no direct link between intelligence and depression however depression does impair the cognitive functioning of an individual and the individual experiences some kind of problem in executive functioning. 

Who is most likely to be depressed?

Depression is most likely to affect people belonging to the age group of 45-65 however, in recent years, there are severe cases of depression in teens as well.

Conclusion

In this article, we will discuss the topic, “  Why are comedians so depressed?, a brief idea about Depression and it’s underlying symptoms, Comedy and Depression, mental health issues and concerns of comedians and some of the frequently asked questions in regards to the topic.

https://www.theweek.in/news/health/2019/07/21/the-mental-health-of-comedians-why-they-live-less-suffer-more.html

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/deal-comedians-depression/story?id=24945911

Bibliography

Chritensen, J. (2018). The sad clown: The deep emotions behind stand-up comedy. CNN Health. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/01/health/sad-clown-standup-comedy-mental-health/index.html

Davis, M. (2019). Researchers say humor is a powerful tool against depression. Big think. https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/depression?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Neporent, L. (2014). What’s the Deal With Comedians and Depression? abc news. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/deal-comedians-depression/story?id=24945911

Web Desk. (2019). The mental health of comedians: Why they live less, suffer more. The week. https://www.theweek.in/news/health/2019/07/21/the-mental-health-of-comedians-why-they-live-less-suffer-more.html

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