With the tremendous stresses, problems and pressures facing an entrepreneur, depression can often be an unwanted side effect. Fashion designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade's recent death has been a loss to so many, and a reminder that mental health illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of wealth or public perception.
More than 16 million American adults or 6.7% of the adult population have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Entrepreneurs are particularly at risk: 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed were dealing with at least one mental illness and about one third of entrepreneurs struggle with 2 or more mental illnesses, according to Inc. magazine.
Depression affects people in different ways. With the isolation that entrepreneurs experience and the long hours they are working, many times entrepreneurs aren't taking care of themselves. Entrepreneurs typically devote less time to sleep, leisure, exercise and other activities that can ward off depression. Anxiety hits entrepreneurs as well due to the pressure that most are under. They can be constantly worried about their business and brand succeeding.
It’s important to watch for warning signs that our loved ones may be dealing with depression and anxiety and having thoughts of suicide.
- Talking about suicide or wanting to hurt themselves
- Frequently talking about death
- Feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Abrupt change of mood – from sadness to happiness or calm
- Depression symptoms – deep sadness, loss of interest in activities, trouble sleeping or eating
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Risk-taking behavior such as recklessness
Along with these behaviors, a person may be at higher risk if they attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20% - 50% of people who commit suicide have tried before.
Emotional difficulties aren't a sign of weakness. And it has been proven that the entrepreneurial lifestyle often creates a reluctance to getting help for mental health issues. Be proactive in preventing emotional problems as much as possible if you see your self-employment taking its toll and seek professional help before it gets worse.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s critical to quickly get connected to supportive services. Don’t hesitate to reach out to help someone you think may be depressed or suicidal. Recognizing the warnings signs and risk factors is the first step for suicide prevention.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or is having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, please seek help. For more resources, click here, or call 800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.