When running a company, not a single day is the same as there would definitely be many ups and downs. As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to rise to success on a linear path, at times it can be quite the opposite, with billion-dollar failure in hand. It’s not uncommon for startup companies to fail. Every entrepreneur is believed to have a dark secret termed, ‘Founders Depression’.
“Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.”
Defining Founders Depression
The American Psychiatric Association says, “Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home”. Depression affects an estimated 1 in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And 1 in 6 people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.
Nearly 90% of all tech startups never make it off the ground. But increasing evidence is showing that entrepreneurs experience depression more commonly than others. As a result, the condition has even earned its own term: “founder depression”. And unlike routine depression sufferers, many entrepreneurs are not even aware they have it.
Founders life = Stressed life
Founders lead some of the most stressful lives. The highs are moderately high and the lows, extremely low. Startups have pressures to be unique, to “disrupt”, get funded and grow fast, unlike other small businesses that can grow at their own pace. Founders have to justify the funding they receive and do it within a limited period of time, all under media and peer scrutiny. So, though traditional small business owners have their own struggles, the pressures on startup founders are manifold.
Causes of Founder Depression
Most believe that founder depression is caused by an increasingly complex and competitive world. Technology and globalization have made startups riskier and more stressful to manage. But startup stress is not the only reason why entrepreneurs can experience depression. Some founders may become depressed because they’re pushing themselves to be entrepreneurs when, in reality, they may not have the personality for it in the first place. Not everyone has the personality to be a founder, but more and more people are choosing to start their own companies because entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as an attractive and prestigious career path.
How to combat founder depression?
A good understanding of the personality is the primary thing to do to identify the weak spots. The IPIP-NEO test is one of the leading online personality tests in the industry that help you to know which startup activities are easy or difficult for you.
Psychologists recommend creating a ‘restorative niche’ to reduce stress. Niches can help founders reenergize and restore psychological balance before it becomes too difficult to manage.
Founders should become familiar with signs that include a sudden increase (or decrease) in sleep, weight, appetite, or energy, as well as increased feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame so that they can recognize when they’re experiencing these symptoms and seek out the professional help they need.
Founder depression is a common feeling every entrepreneur happens to experience. Many founders try to struggle through or altogether ignore their depression symptoms. But, it’s important to develop self-awareness and know the clues that you may be experiencing depression. Just know that you are not alone in handling the emotional rush, seek social support or professional help to overcome the same.