Do Entrepreneurs Suffer from Depression?

It is well known 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 twice as likely to suffer from depression as traditional employees. NHS research from England shows that one in four adults suffer from mental illness, and being an entrepreneur increases this risk even further. Employers were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use conditions (12%), and bipolar diagnosis (11%).Often, entrepreneurs are so immersed in their work that they don't realize when a colleague is struggling with mental health problems. This research could have an impact on business education, executive training, and human resource management, as “understanding the strengths and vulnerabilities associated with personal and family mental health histories can contribute to improved business outcomes and the development of protective resources for entrepreneurs.”Entrepreneurs have to juggle multiple roles and are often disappointed due to various factors such as investing personal capital in their businesses without receiving any benefits.

Kip, a San Francisco-based startup founded by Erin Frey, offers a combination of in-person therapy and software services to entrepreneurs and startup employees. Many entrepreneurs often overlook symptoms of burnout as part of a hectic schedule, but in reality, it's not a schedule problem, it's a mental health problem. A Harvard Business Review study showed that more than half of the surveyed entrepreneurs experienced levels of burnout that were even higher than athletes and college students. Mental health resources are limited for most Americans, but employers often opt for basic (or no) insurance without much coverage for mental health issues. Entrepreneurs have lower initial incomes, lower income growth, lower long-term incomes, higher work stress, and more psychosomatic health problems than employees. One of the most important steps entrepreneurs can take to protect themselves from depression is to separate their identity from their work. It also reignited a debate on entrepreneurship and mental health that began two years earlier after the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of Diaspora, a 22-year-old social media site. Entrepreneurs often have to manage numerous roles and face countless setbacks (loss of customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, personnel problems), all while struggling to pay payroll.

Considering how much the game of entrepreneurship is idolized and associated with words such as “freedom” and “autonomy”, the emotional side of building companies is not so often talked about.

Muriel Bivins
Muriel Bivins

Wannabe bacon lover. Freelance pop culture maven. Unapologetic twitter buff. Hardcore pop culture specialist. General pop culture trailblazer. Amateur introvert.

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