The link between depression and perfectionism

Depression is a very common mental health disorder, and this is, among other things, because this emotional state is not reached in one way, but in many ways.

Sometimes we speak of depression on the assumption that it is simply an illness and as such it is only caused by biological complications in the person’s body; but the truth is that personality traits and lifestyle habits can largely explain our propensity to develop this disorder.

In this article we will focus on the relationship between depression and perfectionism, Two well-studied psychological phenomena in which points of interconnection have been observed. And is that we often tend to associate perfectionism with a positive and useful aspect of the personality (and to a certain extent it is), in excess it can compromise our sanity in various ways.

    What do these concepts mean in psychology?

    First of all, we clarify the concepts that we are going to talk about. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a lack of energy and motivation, low expectations, and a state of sadness or anxiety which makes it very difficult to enjoy the pleasant experiences in life (a vacation, a dinner in a good restaurant, etc.). As a psychological disorder, its presence does not only imply discomfort: it also has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those who suffer from it, and increases the risk of suicide.

    On another side, perfectionism is scrupulous in valuing the product of our own actions. This means that we pay attention to the need to get it right and that the thought of creating something with one or more imperfections causes us discomfort.

    The relationship between depression and the degree of perfectionism

    There are different ways of associating a tendency with a high degree of perfectionism with the likelihood of suffering from depression. We will see several here, even if it is necessary to keep one thing in mind: being a perfectionist does not necessarily mean that this trait will generate in us a depressive disorder. Sometimes what leads us to develop perfectionism also leads us to develop depression.

    The differences between the types of perfectionism

    First, a distinction must be made between two types of perfectionism: perfectionist aspirations and concerns. The second of these forms of perfectionism is the tendency to worry about the possibility of doing things wrong, the anticipation of failure if one does not pay much attention to what one is doing and l obsession with avoiding a bad outcome. The first, on the other hand, is about wanting to be the best version of ourselves and caring about doing things the best possible way.

    In this way, perfectionist aspirations are linked to a higher risk of manifesting problems with stress and anxiety, while perfectionist concerns are associated with the risk of depression, as those who embrace this type of perfectionism focus their attention on l negative aspect of his own skills. and abilities, and they spend a lot of time anticipating and imagining poor results in what they do. The latter encourages emotional fatigue and the inability to come.

    Of course, it should be remembered that those who follow the path of perfectionist aspirations are not free to be at higher risk for depression, because anxiety overlaps a lot with mood disorders.

      Eating disorders

      The risk of developing eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, has been shown to be associated with a tendency to high or very high perfectionism, which makes sense given that the discomfort originates from reflection on behavioral and fitness imperfections.

      This is relevant, because As is often the case with treatable psychological disorders in therapy, the fact that we have developed one makes us more likely to develop another.And depression tops the list of possible risks.

      Work addiction

      Closely related to perfectionism, the tendency to overwork is clearly linked to the risk of developing depression in the medium to long term.

      There are different explanations as to why this happens. One of them is that while ‘workaholics’ turn their work environment into the primary focus of their life, they gradually sever their links with other sources of satisfaction and social life; when they realize that they cannot keep up with this rate of focus and effort, they find themselves alone and socially isolated, without stimulating hobbies and, in general, for no reason to stop leading 100% of their time. pay attention to their performance at work. This is the point where depression lands.

      On the other hand, the extreme worry about producing and doing everything right that causes the workaholic is also linked to lack of sleep, another of the phenomena most closely linked to depression. If the nervous system does not have time to recover while we are sleeping. The chances of developing mood disorders are skyrocketing.

      Treatment of depressed mood

      Clinical depression and depressed mood that are not a disorder can be treated effectively with psychotherapy. If you are interested in professional help, I invite you to contact me by clicking here.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Barondes, SH (1998). Mood Genes: Tracing the Origins of Mania and Depression. New York: WH Freedman & Co.
      • Mann, JJ, Waternaux, C., Haas, GL et al. (1999). Towards a clinical model of suicidal behavior in psychiatric patients. Am J Psychiatry, 156: 181-189.
      • Smith, MM; Sherry, SB; Chen. S .; Saklofske, DH; Mushquash, C .; Flett, GL; Hewitt, PL (2017). The Pernition of Perfectionism: A Metaanalytical Review of the Perfectionism-Suicide Relationship. Personality diary. 86 (3). pages 522 to 542.
      • Smith, MM; Sherry, SB; Rnic, K .; Saklofske, DH; Enns, M .; Gralnick, T. (2016). Are the dimensions of perfectionism for depressive symptoms after control of neuroticism vulnerability factors? A meta-analysis of 10 longitudinal studies. European Journal of Personality. 30 (2). pages 201 to 212.

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