A lot of people ask me, are introversion and depression the same thing? They are not.
As annoying as it is that people keep drudging up this outdated association between introversion and depression, I can see where the confusion lies.
There is a reason why so many people – introverts and extroverts – are asking, are introverts more likely to be depressed?
Why extroverts think we’re depressed
I can see why extroverts, in particular, interpret an introvert’s behaviour as depression. For one, extroverts view our actions through the lens of their own experience. For them, being alone for extended periods of time would feel depressing.
They see our quietness as a sign that something is wrong, because that is what it would mean if they went silent. And our wandering off on our own – that is just strange. To them, only someone who is sad or angry would choose solitude over ‘fun’ times with the group.
But fun is a relative word. What extroverts describe as fun is merely an empty shell of activity for introverts. It’s all smiles and excitement on the outside, but inside it is devoid of any real connection or substance.
Barriers to an introvert’s happiness
“A good rule of thumb is that any environment that consistently leaves you feeling bad about who you are is the wrong environment.” ~ Laurie Helgoe
We don’t want the hype. Or the entourage. Most of the time, that is just extra packaging that gets in the way of what we’re really after:
Conversations that go beyond party chit chat and spark our curiosity .
Authentic connections with like-minded people.
A sense of meaning and purpose.
These are the things we truly want. When all we get is hollow activity, THAT is when we can become depressed. We get caught up in an endless cycle of exhaustion, guilt and overstimulation.
Society keeps telling us that we need to “get out of our comfort zone”, “seize the day”, “meet new people”. That is the key to happiness.
But these little catch phrases are vastly misinterpreted. “Seizing the day” does not always mean getting out there and hopping on the treadmill of constant doing. Sometimes, the most effective way to spend a day is to find a patch of quiet and just be.
Unfortunately, no one told us introverts that was an option.
Tired, sore, sad introvert
We introverts get caught up in the race where no one wins. We are running and running with no destination – just the promise of a pat on the back and the assurance that we are normal in the end.
We’re tired. We’re sore. We’re all bent out of shape from this constant activity with no substance. For some sensitive introverts, this exhausted state is the stepping stone for depression. For others, it causes a dull sense of melancholy that swells with every superficial conversation and forced smile.
I’ve been there.
The sadness I couldn’t shake
There was a time in my life when happiness was fleeting.
I would never say that I had depression, because to me that is a medical term for a serious illness. What I felt was more a dull kind of melancholy.
The sadness was sneaky though. It crept up on me in all the places sadness is not supposed to dwell. At parties. In large groups. With weekend ‘friends’ who were unfailingly polite and pleasant, and interesting as wood.
I knew that something was missing, but I didn’t know what. I tried and tried to satiate my hunger for what I couldn’t name. I filled up on social fluff, and so-called fun. I felt bloated and tired, but never full.
My hungry sadness gobbled up any sense of peace and contentment I once had. What was left was confusion, self-doubt, and hopelessness.
It took me a long time to realize the reason for my melancholy. It wasn’t until I learned more about introversion that I began to understand.
The surprising source of my sadness
The cause and the supposed cure for my sadness were one in the same. I thought that going out and having ‘fun’ with ‘friends’ would make me feel better. It didn’t. There is a very good reason why.
You see, the people I was hanging out with weren’t my friends. From the outside I could be perceived as popular. In truth, I was surrounded by people and felt utterly alone.
My social life was all white bread and empty calories. It lacked the true connection introverts crave.
Less activity. More meaning.
Fewer friends. More real friendships.
Less doing. More feeling.
It all sounds so simple when I put it this way. But most introverts have been told their whole life to do the exact opposite.
More than once I’ve heard from introverts who said that their therapists prescribed lots of social activity and “getting out there” as the cure for their depression. This only caused further anxiety.
It wasn’t until they truly understood their introverted needs that the clouds began to part. This was the case for Brian, a 59-year-old introvert who recently had a breakthrough coaching session with me:
“Your insight now explains the “why, when and how” to this hellishly confusing and daunting time in my life. I hope you realize that your conclusions were beyond the grasp of no less than two counselors, both of which held a Ph.D in psychology and a few random social workers. You cracked the code I had been working on for decades.”
Does any of this sound familiar to you, innie friend?
If so, there is no reason to feel shame. The first step to any transformation in life is awareness. Now that you know you are an introvert, and you are beginning to understand your needs, the way out of the fog is more clear.
So, are introverts more likely to be depressed?
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS. 😉
I don’t think that introverts are more likely to get depressed simply because our brain is constantly working, we love our sollitude, that is our cure. Depression can catch everyone, introvert or not. I’m 27 years old, but when I realized that I am an introvert about a year ago, that was one of the most significant moments in my entire life. I too was described as the “quiet one”, as the one who always leaves earlier from parties, who doesn’t want to go on an all day gathering where there would be over 50 people (now that is a meaning of hell 😀 ), who wonders off from time to time, and I was pretty confused and sad thinking, why am I different, what’s wrong with me? Absolutely nothing. 🙂 As time passed by, I started to realize what Michaela said: Less activity, More meaning – this doesn’t mean that you are lazy, it means you are smart to choose activites that best suit you introverted personality, Fewer friends, More real friendships – doesn’t mean that you are antisocial, it means that you are wise to choose ones who truly care for you and with whom you can talk for hours and hours (for me it’s the zombie apocalypse scenarios 🙂 ), Less doing – More feeling – this means that you are strong enough to feel what others cannot and to feel it much stronger (and that’s a good thing 🙂 ), even if you are not engaged in some activity that others deem adequate. Depression is something that catches everyone in the same way, not just us introverts, well at least I think so… I think that every Introvert was in the situation Michaela described, but the important, no, the essential is to accept who you are. 🙂 Be proud for being an Introvert. 🙂
Great points, Marko. I like what you said about how it takes strengths to feel what others are afraid to feel. So true!
Marko–Thanks! I really like your words here. 🙂 Although, many years ago, I DID actually go through a period of depression and I can safely say now (with the insight/discovery I have received through Michaela’s writings) that part of that was due to my (and others’) lack of knowledge and understanding of (my) introversion. I now find myself having to defend my daughter who is also an innie–I mean, what teenager chooses to stay in her room and create on her computer? 😛
I am 46 years of age and am enjoying this new discovery of my introversion! LOL I am even more grateful that I can better understand my daughter not to mention all the proverbial “dot connecting” I’ve been doing with regard to past behaviours by other family members, colleagues, teachers, etc. Amazing! After feeling like a “freak” throughout my youth and most of my adulthood (to this point), it’s been very liberating to find out that I really am okay and that I should just continue rockin’ my innie-ism!
I guess I’d have to say that depression as an introvert can most definitely be brought on due to others’ lack of understanding/knowledge/respect of (one’s) introversion.
I want to congratulate Chris on his new-found confidence in telling folks what he prefers and needs. That’s very cool! I still have lots of work to do as sometimes I’m okay with it while other times I worry about offending when I say, ‘No. I don’t want to go.’
Oh well–a work in progress. Took over 40 years to get this far so…. 😉
Thanks so much, Michaela!
I wasted the majority of my 40 years of life with an ongoing underlying depression. Then a couple years with full blown Depression. I now know it had so much to do with not knowing what being introvert was. I just had come to the conclusion that I was a failure at being a person. Why could I only handle a couple friends and did not want anything to do with anyone else. Why did I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to attend a house party? Why did I always feel like shrinking into a little ball and dissipating into thin air while in a social setting? Why did I always get stomache aches being forced into “team work” projects in school, then later at my job? Why did other people’s words affect me so strongly? (Especially the negative) Just a bad look could affect me that whole day. Why was I not outgoing, crazy? Loud, and fun like the rest of my family? I truly thought I was worthless. I just couldn’t keep up, and really didn’t want to. Yet I hated myself for feeling that way. I have only known of Introversion for about a year now. I feel so relieved and comforted through your words and people’s comments. I, for the first time in my life have knowledge of what DOES make me worthy. I do have good traits. I am not alone. Now I have to figure out how to not feel like I am a bore in a relationship! One thing at a time : )
You have a double whammy of a social “curse” since you are young, very pretty and very intelligent and probably everyone and their brother wants to talk to you. Yes, you are in the introversion business, but no matter how much you convey that there are still those social expectations that you have to be the life of the party somehow. Or the shining light for everyone else.
At an anti-war rally in the 70’s John Lennon said “everyone thinks you owe them something” when he had to refuse to sign an autograph for a fan because then he would be deluged with requests and not be able to stay on schedule. Those in attendance also seemed to think that he was suppose to make a speech of some kind (or bring the stone tablets down the mountain or whatever came first). Being a public figure seems axiomatically to mean you have to do all the talking no matter how small the talk becomes. You could probably wear a flashing neon sign that said “I don’t do the weather” and still be expected to wade through the river of the banal.
Plus, you dance, which in the public’s mind signifies the actions of an extrovert.
I’ve been in the Mental Health field for over 30 years. I am an Introvert. Many of my patients were Introverts, but since that was so long ago nobody ever really knew. The Psychiatrists I worked with just put them on Meds or in Institutions. But I digress… No, I don’t think we are more prone to depression because of what we are. I do think we suffer it more because, at least back then, it wasn’t recognized and an Introvert was made to feel ashamed. That something Intrisically was wrong with them. With no understanding like there is more of today, I’ve attended far too many funerals from Introverts committing suicide. All because we were made to feel like outcasts. Less than. Not “normal” and therefore not “good enough.” So while Depression may not be inherently part of us Society makes us feel less than. Maybe not quite so much today thanks to people like you who address the subject. But before there was Internet even Dr’s never paid any mine to personality types. That only furthered Introverts shame as to not being like everybody else. Thank you for your work and bringing to light a much needed discussion. But please keep in mind the high price many Introverts had to pay because there was no understanding.
You put it in a simple way. thanks.
You are my favorite, you gathered all the points & this is what i am.
I am constantly being asked and told that I must be depressed because I avoid large gatherings .I didn’t realize being an introvert was Ok until I found your page.Now I feel confident enough to say that no, I am not depressed I just prefer to get together with fewer peole and that I find small talk very difficult.I think we could take a page out of an extrovert’s book ,especially those who emphasize how much they love to party,to say we thoroughly enjoy our time alone. It makes life difficult sometimes especially where family is concerned.But I was very depressed when I tried to live up to the expectation of the very many extroverts in my family.I just feel you can only be truly content if you are honest with yourself and others.
Thanks for sharing that, Chris. You’re right, it’s time innies let others know that we enjoy our alone time. And also, so glad that my site has helped you embrace your introversion! 🙂
Michaela, you are an inspiration. However, I often feel that being depressed is the only sane response to finding oneself living in a society which is apparently determined to destroy the environment which keeps us alive. I’ve just ordered The Awakened Introvert in the hope it may help. Any thoughts?
Hi Michael, Thanks for that. I suppose there are a lot of things to be sad about in this world, but also many things to be optimistic about. I hope you like The Awakened Introvert. I find the exercises and insights in it very helpful.
I am an extreme extrovert trying to understand my 2 introvert sons, ages 11 and 7. My 7-year-old is most extreme of the two boys. My 11-year-old helped pave the way of helping me understand that this is nothing a problem I need to ‘fix’ but a personality that I just need to understand.
Your blog is really helping me understand. It’s hard for me, an extrovert, who gets sad if I have to be alone even 10 hours to understand that my son’s chin will quiver if I try to send him outside to play with neighborhood kids. He spends his time in his room alone. And sometimes, his room is not enough and I find him drawing on a chalkboard in his closet with the door shut.
It looks like depression to me but he’s not overtly sad and emotional. And this is always him. It doesn’t come in waves but instead has been constant. He told his twin brother today the story of an alone-bird. (I posted my blog so you can see the story.) He’s very sweet, my introvert. Always worried about other’s feelings. I want to do the right things for him. It feels like someone saying “Raise this Chinese child in America but maintain it’s Chinese heritage.” Sometimes, it’s so strange to me and I don’t know if I’m doing the right things.
I just wish I knew the best course of action for an introvert child. Should I just leave him alone? Should I try to talk to him more? Should I encourage him to do some individual activity or let him know that it’s okay if he wants to spend his time alone? Are there things you wish your parents had done?
Thanks for your help!
Hi Angelica, I’m so glad that my blog is helping you understand your sons better. You might find my post for parents of introverted teens helpful: //introvertspring.com/advice-for-parenting-an-introverted-teenager/ I haven’t written a post about innie children yet.
I am 70. I was brought up by mother and the education system to be an extrovert. This has been one of the main sources of my unhappiness. I read Dorothy Rowe’s books – very helpful in understanding intro/extra – and I am now allowing myself to be more of who I am. Glad to find your website.
I think your understanding of your sons’ introversion will help and support them in many ways. Your children are very young so you have the opportunity to hone their interest and guide them into careers that not only support them financially, but also one that resonates with them intrinsically.
Depression for introverts can also manifest when the nature of our career is the very source of our hell. I recently realized that I don’t hate what I do (I’m a hair stylist for 3 decades now), I am simply burned out from all the forced interaction and constant socialization. My job is making me miserable but I need to work. I just want to create in my own solitary oasis. Every option to change careers that aligns with my education, licensing, and expertise, gives me more of the same. I feel stuck an unable to grow, even with a master’s degree. If I had realized this year’s ago, I could’ve qualified myself for a more suitable career path. As a result, I am fighting depression often and no one seems to understand.
As an introvert, I totally get why the constant interaction with clients can be overwhelming. As a client getting my hair cut, I can barely cope with the non-stop chit chat that is the norm in hair salons. Suggestion; listen to you iPod with earbuds, and explain to your clients that music provides you with the inspiration to focus on a beautiful haircut. I use earbuds on airplanes to avoid unwanted conversations with seat partners. Hope you try this and it helps!
I just bought hair clippers and cut off all my hair once a month. I haven’t been to the barber in years. You wanna know what hell is like for an introvert. Try a seven day stay in the ICU. Now that was pure hell.
I think the potential is there for introverts to be depressed especially because we may tend to try to be “normal” following the lead of extroverts trying to fit in and then totally lose ourselves thus living an unhappy, stressful, totally unfulfilling life never knowing who we are, what we like or want to do. Forget about having a voice. Ugh! I did it!
I think you hit the nail on the head Michaela when you said “a dull kind of melancholy”. It’s not depression: I know as I was depressed for a time when my marriage broke down. I’ve had people tell me in person (and in cyberspace) that I need to get out there or that dreadful old chestnut, that I “need to come out of my shell”, but that simply isn’t the answer. The other thing that I’ve found that can feed this melancholy is ‘social networks’. To me, things like Facebook are just as bad as the ‘real world’ (if not worse?), for reinforcing this 51 yo ISTJ’s supposed ‘flaws’. Let’s face it, how many people post the boring, negative, deeply personal and emotional stuff on something like FB? No, it’s all, look at me out with my friends/family/spouse/lover, ‘living life to the full’, on holiday, etc, etc. It can make you feel like you should be doing it too – ‘sharing’ – and that’s not good. It’s easy to get sucked into that mindset, but for your own sanity, as an ‘innie’, you mustn’t.
Thank you for this article, I found it very helpful. I constantly feel so tired and sore from all the anxiety and expectations, and I did wonder for some time if it was depression. But I don’t feel like it’s depression, it’s more like a dull melancholy, like you stated.
I keep thinking ‘I need to get out of my comfort zone’ but my heart just aches from the thought of going to the bars or somewhere like that since I don’t drink. I find it boring when I do go out, I would rather stay in my bed reading or writing 🙂 and now I know it’s okay.
So thank you for showing me that it’s okay to be quiet and to have the choice. I just signed your newsletter, so I hope to learn more things about introverts in the future!
You’re welcome! Glad to have you in my innie tribe. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. This article has taught me so much about myself. It’s exhausting when people are just drawn to you and like to be around you, when really… You just want to be alone in the quiet.
For a long time I know I was extremely depressed. I realize now that the core of my depression came from living a life best suited for an extravert. It wasn’t until I realized that I am an introvert and starting living an introvert lifestyle did I start to come out of my depression. I spend a lot more time alone. When I do spend time with people it is in small groups or just one on one. Even my boyfriend recently mentioned that I seem a lot happier now than when I was going out all the time. I just didn’t enjoy the company of a lot of the people I hung out with. Not to mention just hanging out was torture on its own. I always felt like such a mutant. I keep learning more and more what it means to be an introvert thanks to your post.
Thanks, Michaela, for sharing this. My experiences have left me trying to sort out who I am and what is my best option to earn a living based on having at least some of the INFJ personality type (still learning about all of this.)
I had a early and regular exposure to organized religion of the fire and brimstone variety here in the South. My view of God was that he was mainly the long-haired man throwing lightning bolts at folks he was angry with. I could pretty much figure out that just existing and my subsequent thoughts were sinful since God knows my thoughts…and I had an active imagination fueled by hormones.
After some bullying when I was young and determining that I was not fitting in with classmates very well, I found it easier to be quiet and let people think I was a fool than to open my mouth and prove it. Hence, the quietness and not much socializing.
I was quite fond of females though and I did date regularly eventually marrying a college girlfriend. I had male friends but having serious conversations about life was not typical.
I suspected I was depressed for years and finally my doctor diagnosed me and prescribed some meds for sleep and to stabilize my mood. I took these for a while and endured the side effects and then tired of those. Now, I don’t take anything or attend religious services or counseling.
Thinking about this world, my place in it, and the lack of finding a way to provide for my family is depressing. I’ve played the mind games with what I’ve heard from religion of “let go, let God” or “God’s in control” and “God cares more than you know.” etc. After observing this world, I can only conclude that maybe God cares about my eternal soul but not so much what happens on Planet Earth.
Great comments! I have learned that “Churchianity”, not God, was a big cause of my own melancholy. I stopped Churchianity and got to better know God Himself. He has led me to numerous places and people, including here. A whole lot of stuff done in the name of God, I have learned, God Himself has nothing to do with it. YMMV!
Thank you Micheala, I finally understand myself better after reading many of your articles. This one in particular struck a nerve. I have been diagnosed with depression and general anxiety disorder. Something I’ve struggled with for years now. I have always been introverted but never as bad as I am now ( I’m 48). Also I never understood how introversion plays such an important role in my personality, my depression and my anxiety. I hate talking on the phone, answering the phone, small talk…all the typical “innie” traits. Because I don’t like to socialize and talk on the phone I disappoint my family and friends who aren’t like me. This causes my guilt and is a vicious cycle. I also lost my mom as a teen. I had some depression before she died and major depression and anxiety after she died. My introversion was very light at that age. I did prefer to read and stay up late, my mind never calming down, I liked to be one on one with a friend instead of a group. (I also attended 5 different schools k-12 because my Dad’s job transferred him all over). Always being the new girl was not easy for me. (I was shy, but not painfully shy at that time.). I am happily married and have a teenage son. My boys are extroverts; and they understand me. Thankfully. Though I am even more introverted then ever. I have done so much research in depression and anxiety, I have completely overlooked the whole introversion aspect. I do think that the 2 can go hand in hand. My mom was never diagnosed with depression before she died at the age of 38 (not suicide) but I now know she suffered as well, her mom too. They both had tragedies happen to them at a young age. I think tragedies can cause someone who is introverted to turn their grief inwards which causes all kinds of mental issues.
Millions of people deal with tragedies, millions of people have depression and anxiety disorders. I wonder what the percentage is of people in those groups who are introverts. I would think it would be very high. Thank you for your insightful articles. I am hooked on learning more about this side of me.
I’m 31yr F Got married 5yrs ago to an extrovert. I didn’t know till 2 yrs ago that I was an Introvert. Thought I was abnormal all my life, that something was wrong with me mentally. Started marriage counciling shortly after marriage & she new at our first session. We are starting back up next week after 2 yrs, because our differences are causing some issues. He’s having a hard time with me needing “alone time” But, I have to be true to myself.
Very interesting issue regarding depression and introversion… I’m an ‘innie’ as you call it and I’m also a psychology-scholar (I have a Masters in Research Psychology)… I have yet to come across a study indicating a correlation between depression and introversion… In my opinion, it certainly wouldn’t be uncommon for an introvert to develop depression exactly because some aspects of our personality encourage this mental condition.. Often there is a tendency by some introverts to remain quiet about issues that make them feel depressed… Subsequently bottled-up feelings have now exit and that facilitates depressed mood… But, not all introverts have depression and there are many ‘innies’ who are quite happy with their lives…
I therefore would also like to take this opportunity to encourage ‘innies’ out there to speak to someone when you DO feel depressed!.. Keeping feelings in will prolong the depressed mood which might cause problems in the long run…
Morne.. (South Africa)
I’m a 45 yr old male infj. I deal with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts regularly. It does me some good to read articles and blogs about introversion, but it’s just a band aid. I’ve been to psychiatrists and have been on medication. I drink and take drugs daily to try to get out of the prison in my mind. I can never truly be happy because there is so much wrong in the world. When I tell people that I have suicidal thoughts, they tell me I’m selfish because of the pain and suffering it will put my survivors in. So, I exist in misery because I can’t live and I can’t die. Meds don’t help and neither do selfish misunderstanding people no matter how well intentioned. I don’t fit in anywhere. I have 1 friend. Life isn’t for a an infj. An infj is in the minority in any situation which only brings confusion and eventually expulsion from all the people that tell me to “just get over it”.
All that said to make this point, yes, introversion invites depression.
I think depression is quite a strong word for our unexplainable sadness sometimes. I just realized how introvert am I. The reason of all quietness I so love, the “resting bitch face” I always have which I think is all normal, BUT people find weird and a “not people-friendly-unapproachable person” persona, and not being wanting to be with the crowd which they tag as “KJ” or a killjoy.
I believe that this sadness, which if we lost all reasons behind it, becomes “depression” is aggravated by our surrounding who find our introvert personality as weird and our unconscious pretensions of wanting to be “like them”.
I feel a bit like Brian too. Only recently I found out I was a HSP. That was a great breakthrough… That didn’t change my way of life immediately, but it reshaped my focus points a bit. I discovered Mindfulness. Again an eye-opener. And now I am discovering the beauty of my introvert side. Something I never felt proud of. Until recent weeks/months, since I discovered this whole new world on the internet. Again, no big sudden (superficial) changes in my life, but slowly and thoroughly little changes do kreep in. A few years ago I heard that “What you feed grows” and since then that was always in the back of my mind.
I have never read an article that I couldn’t relate more too. Very well written! Thank you for sharing 🙂
You’re welcome, Olivia!
Insightful as always, Michaela! Feel like introverts are always swimming against the extrovert current and we are expected to tamp down our introversion to fit in. We have to assert ourselves unapologetically. Easier said than done, I know. We need to forge friendships with at least one other introvert that we can discuss our struggles with–someone you can always count on to lean on and who can likewise lean on you. The workplace is usually the most challenging part of being an introvert. Finding the right job match for you should be a priority in life. While there is no perfect job for an introvert, finding one that suits you the best can be done. Educating your employer, supervisors, and fellow employees about your introversion is a tall order, but we owe it to ourselves to make efforts to do so.
I think many introverts are also highly sensitive and/or have social anxiety. For me, the limiting factor in my day to day existence is social anxiety. Being out in the world is a daily challenge. As soon as I set foot out of my apartment I am out of my comfort zone and stay out of it until I return. My endocrine system spews out stress hormones constantly.
I endeavor to make my apartment a sanctuary. Music, reading, art, essential oil diffuser, journaling, etc. help me recharge and recenter. I limit external factors drawing on my me time. I see my therapist every two weeks and am under the care of a psychiatrist. I DO take several psychotropic medications. I am a work in progress and accept who I am, my limitations and try my best to live with this.
Read books, blogs and articles about introversion and other aspects of what makes you the special people you are. Introvert Spring and Michaela are/is an excellent friend that/who is always there. Both have helped me!
Bottom line is to have a circle of people you can talk to without hesitation and to embrace yourself with all your perfect imperfections.
Again, thank you Michaela! 🙂
I have labelled myself as being depressed all my life. I am currently taking antidepressants and have been for the past 10 years. I have recently, as a result of this blog and the understanding and acceptance of myself that it has brought, decreased my dose and am confident (fingers-crossed) that I will be able to come off the medication soon. I now label myself introvert instead of depressive.
Thanks, Michaela. I stumbled on this site and, even though it’s a year after you posted it, I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus. I’m an only child, so solitude was typical for me. I had a small, comfortable circle of friends and even played in bar bands for about ten years — but my introversion always dogged me. I, like so many others here, despise boring, predictable conversation — and during those years in bar bands, I shied away from women who were interested in talking to me because I was “in the band.” That really bothered me. At the time, I didn’t understand why I reflexively did that — but now I understand it was the utter shallowness of it all. I loved music and playing it live in front of the crowd, but then having conversations with people based only on that subject made me feel uneasy — disingenuous.
So, here I am, years later — those musician days behind me. In the workplace, I hated myself for not being gregarious enough or connecting with everyone. You’re right, society makes innies feel guilty — like we’re missing something important. And that guilt has driven me into melancholy many times, sometimes for very long stretches of time. It’s hard to keep a positive self-image while extroverted society presses in and demands that I act like them or be labeled “depressed,” or “a loner” — a slight putting me in the company of people like the Unibomber.
Thanks again for your blog. It was helpful, maybe for years to come.
I’m facing the exact situation as in your post. I very often think of the solutions given, as the means to become lively. But I reside in India where social life is a very important aspect and where unlike in the west, people are concerned more about others (negatively).
I would like to share my story with you:
I was an introvert and people described me as shy as silent even in my childhood but I was very happy at that time maybe because of my innocence. But as I grew up, I faced certain problems bcoz of which I gave up playing, avoided going out , confined myself to boundaries of the house. In short I gave up life. Bcoz of which I always got teased , faced ragging and sorts of problems. Presently, I’m pursuing a professional course but in no way I’m determined to achieve it. I still face the above problems and my life is a mess.
Thanks for reading my long n boring story if u ever reach till here and please help me in any way if you can.
Thanks for your message. I know how hard it can be to feel isolated, and like no one gets you. The good news is that for introverts, often one close friend is enough to make us feel connected and happier. A great place to start is to focus on anyone you know right now (friends or family) who are kind to you. Even introverts need connection.
i was married to an extrovert. very exhausting ! he was depressed when he was inactive. i was not depressed-i was very content to be alone and i was able to decompress and chill out or ‘be in my own’ meditative state. it drove him nuts. so i can say depressed for this introvert No – for my ex-extrovert -Yes- quite a bit of depression throughout the years.
If the question is “are introverts more likely to be depressed?”
Then the answer is most definitely YES! There is a reason for this. Most introverts have been denying their brains the energy to function as designed by nature. By this I mean we spend our time thinking we should to be extrovert. It is not possible. It’s like a chicken thinking that it should be able to fly or maybe that if we are born black that maybe we should be white and it is only of a matter of trying harder. Be true to yourself and be happy.
Ok, while this is all great information, I feel like it’s just going to be validation for the denial that many introverts are living in.
Please point out the distinction between solitude and loneliness. Because many many many introverts feel lonely alot but they don’t realize it or refuse to believe it. No, you are introverted, but you don’t not want company to THAT extent. As humans, we all need SOME social interactions and relationships. Even if we do find it boggling, it’s rarely ever to the extent of the pain we feel from loneliness.
For me, I have struggled with depression in the past, and this was a major cause of it. I’ve recently become more social and outgoing, and that has really helped me with my depression. I have also been in the opposite end of the spectrum, with the feelings of being more social as excessive or gluttonous in a way.
The only real way to know yourself is to know if your behavior is caused by fear or by choice. Because if you are socially anxious or afraid to talk to others, then it is something you must overcome. But if you feel like you can socially interact no problem, but you choose to stay silent, then that is your choice.
Even though I know I am an introvert, a HSP too, I feel very guilty of just being who I am. My parents think I am depress. Friends ask me why do you not go out more? Why do you visit so less places?
It is such a hammering to my head! Not just from outside, but from inside as well. Still, largely, being an introvert and having particular preferences is considered just abnormal. Or you have to be great like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates to be accepted of your introversion.
Can you just tell me where and how should I start to just not bother about other people and be myself and not feel ashamed, be guilty of it?
hi shrutika, i m frm kolkata india, suffered the same way u facing, i lost my 7yr, i should say just be you, dont think about crowd, connect with like minded person who shares same value ,share talk n laugh, go out but just when u feel
I would love to see actual numbers on this,
I do agree that from a physical perspective (nature) introverts and extroverts should be as likely to depression but our society, from the comments above, creates the difference. So from a nurture perspective, I would say that introvert are in fact more susceptive to depression.
As an introvert, to me this means that we should do more to spread the word, let the world know that introverts are OK
I realized during my teen years that I was shy and equated that to introversion. And I put a lot of effort into ridding myself of shyness. When I went away to college, I tried on a less shy personality and enjoyed it, but I was still introverted. When I started my career after college it was then I came to fully understand what I was seeking: meaningful conversation and opportunities to be analytical. I was comfortable with who I was and decided to not suffer what passes for conversation in our culture. Only men who are well-read and who enjoy lively conversation on a wide range of subjects will do for my personal relationships. I’m inclined to believe that this introvert is far less likely than an extrovert to become depressed because I analyze everything and don’t stress over things I cannot change (because it’s not logical). What I crave and cannot find are others similar to me so we can have fun, meaningful conversations. I could have more “friends” if I chose, but that would create the worst kind of loneliness: alone in a crowd.
Thanks for the insight Michaela. I’m an extreme introvert and I came across your blog not because I struggle with depression, but because I struggle to support extroverted friends who suffer from depression, and I was wondering if others share this experience. It seems like extroverts are prone to depression because their energy operates best when it moves upward and outward, but what goes up must come down, and for an extrovert, it has a long way to fall and so it lands hard. I have a great deal of emotional independence and coping strategies. I generally like to sort my feelings out in my head, and I don’t very often need someone to listen or help me sort things out. But I find that extroverts, the people with whom I have the best chemistry, need to talk through different emotional struggles not just once – which I’m always happy to do – but sometimes it’s over and over and over almost to the point of being constant – I love my friends, but I find it so draining. I don’t need to be the center of attention, but I do eventually need time to think and care for my own self. If I don’t get that opportunity, that’s when I get moody and snap back. I wonder if anyone else experiences this and/or have ideas and strategies that can help.
Thanks for sharing this. it gave me lot of clarity on what i’m thinking.
most in my family are extroverts ,they love to be center of attention at social clubs ,bars ,work etc. I am the opposite i am the type that loves to be alone fishing .at a library, or fixing a car . My whole life has been visioned as depressed .non social , i tried the night life , hanging in bars being active in social clubs with siblings.and parent . When i refuse to hang with them i am considered “anti social . T he same from my girlfriend when i do not want to go to social gatherings or am silent at family gatherings .
Michaela I have found it very difficult to be myself around people.
I am very friendly but think people think I am over bearing.. What am I doing wrong.?
Clinical depression is best diagnosed using medically defined criteria. The word “depression” is often used loosely to mean anxious mood or any variation thereof. While more emphasis should be put on determining one’s preference for intro- or extraversion (or do we now spell it extroversion?), clinical depression has better cures than the, “get out there and mingle” advice that is given by people who don’t know better.
Using the proper diagnostic criteria, no therapist should fail to distinguish between a depressed client and an introvert who does not yet know that he/she is an introvert (and therefore needs a course of less, rather than more, stimulation).
Thanks for the lovely article. I am an introvert since childhood. And I absolutely love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world. As you explained aptly in your article I love having 1-2 close meaningful friends instead of being with a huge group of shallow acquaintances. And yes, I usually end up being very depressed at social gatherings of any sort. I also hated getting married because I would have to attend to all the relatives and social gatherings of my husband. This is insisted upon in the Indian culture, which I come from. There is just no way out. No one cares how you feel. These are just the things which you are supposed to do. I love my husband very much and we share a very deep meaningful bond. He understands me and loves me for what I am. But I still hate being married to him (or anyone, for that matter) because of my “allergy” to gatherings and get-togethers with his relatives which I just cannot avoid. Can you suggest some way out?
Thanks so much for sharing your thought on this. It was interesting to hear your perspective as a married Indian woman, as I’ve often thought about what a hard time I would have if I was born into Indian culture, with all the familial expectations.
Thanks for your blog! I am an extreme introvert. For years I have been battling depression. I only recently discovered that it is primarily due to my career which forces me to be outgoing and conversational to many people everyday. I am a 47 year old woman who has been a Hair Stylist since I was a teenager. I have been trying to change my career for over a decade now because work gives me so much anxiety. It has become progressively worse over time. I thought I was simply tired of the long hours, and the toll it’s taken on my body….and I am, but I just had a revelation that I’m psychologically drained and over socialized.
I furthered my education and got a master’s degree in Leadership but my qualifications only lead me to more interaction and set hours (to add insult to injury) which stops me in my tracks. If I had been miserable self-employed for all these years, surely getting locked into a mandated fulltime schedule, would be pure hell. I moved out of my hometown where I built my clientele. I was then in the position where I would have to build again (which I don’t have the passion to do), work in a corporate salon that has the clientele already but I’ll make significantly less money, or find employment in another field. The problem is, any field I can think of gives me more anxiety than the one I am in. And the thought of working for someone else in said field, exacerbates my anxiety.
To avoid both, putting in the work to build a clientele I really don’t want, or being stuck with long hours on a job that makes me more miserable; I found work in a corporate salon. I can negotiate my schedule due to my decades of experience, the work is second nature, and I get paid by the hour so my money is guaranteed, plus tips and I get lots of time off to recharge. Nonetheless, I make significantly less money than I ever did being self-employed and with all my education and experience, I am barely make enough to save for bigger and better things. All this because I cannot tolerate more hours of forced interaction. I have many business aspirations that will culminate my career with my personality, but they all require me to have a certain amount of money that I cannot seem to accumulate because I just don’t make enough anymore. This dichotomy is the biggest source of my depression because I am my own saboteur. More importantly, No matter what plan I come up with, I either can’t fund it, or will be more miserable than I already am. I feel like I have been consistently deferring my happiness and I am desperate for peace.
If anyone has knowledge of introvert- friendly jobs for career changers that also pay well, please let me know.
This is wonderful! I saved a lot of it for later reflection 🙂
One thing I would add is that introverts are more overstimulated and we are more prone to depression when we don’t have time to process all of the information we take in. Taking time to process your thoughts and feelings throughout the day is important to keep it from hitting you all at once when your head hits the pillow. Continuous overstimulation without quiet time to reflect will make you start to go numb because your brain just can’t take on more!
As far as I know, I have been an introvert almost my entire life. I guess when I was an infant, I wasn’t. So about 7/8ths of my life I have been an intro.
Depression is a part of my life. I suppose I have depression because I am introverted. I feel that my introversion has caused me to lag behind with relationships (especially romantic) and career. Right now I have a job that’s very right for me, even though it does not pay a whole lot. It’s very right for me because I work in a room by myself that’s off the beaten track!
I prefer just having one, two, or maybe three real good friends as opposed to having a lot of casual friends. As of now, I only have one good friend. It’s frustrating that he does not understand me. At where I live there’s a pool area that I like to go to. Most times I’m alone there. At times others are there; and they ruin it for me. It’s very rare that I would just meet one person at a time who is alone like I am. I have wanted to leave where I leave because of that. Not just in the pool area, but at the rest of the condo complex I live at.