Entrepreneurs! Tame Depression like a Tiger. Roar up.
The entrepreneurial world is rife with fears and anxieties, and perhaps even depression. As an entrepreneur, do you come across the word ‘depression’ often? You might be aware that depression isn’t a state of feeling sad when in isolation. You’re also stressed and anxious, plus these feelings prevent you from enjoying your favorite foods, pursuing your hobbies and relaxing with people you love.
If as a start-up entrepreneur, you find yourself depressed, it could be so mild and situational that you could get over it with just a little professional counseling and support from your loved ones. However, if it is chronic, you will need specific medication to balance your hormonal secretions and your mind’s chemical levels. Taking medication in this situation becomes necessary because, if left unchecked, depression could open the gateway to a slew of complicated immune deficiencies and body organs’ processes.
According to studies, one in five people needs counseling at some point in their lives, of which six percent need medication. Government’s statistics state that 20% of Indians require counseling at least once in their lives. One per cent is seen to suffer from grave mental health disorders, leading to depressive states.*
Some of these affected individuals come from the dynamic entrepreneurs’ category.
The Science behind depression
It works like this: Depression informs your body that there is a huge problem in your world and forces you to focus on this problem and find a solution for it. Until one finds that solution, he or she will never be able to concentrate on other aspects of his or her life. This makes depression similar to pain, as here too the brain is informed by depression that a part of the body is in distress and needs immediate help. When the problem is huge, it would necessitate help from those around you, since single-handedly you would not be able to solve the problem.
Is Depression misunderstood?
Yes it is. It is not limited to mere sadness. These days, it is common to talk about depression even when one has the most minimal mood swings. For instance, a small car accident that brings in losses, or a power cut that disrupts your day, or just another hard day at the office that seemingly imbues ‘depression.’
However, depression is a lot more profound than this. It is a degenerative mental disease which affects one’s physicality but is generally treated as sadness. If falling short of your business targets leads to more than mere anxiety, such as a lack of focus and suicidal thoughts, seek medical help immediately. And yes, don’t take depression lightly or dismiss it as mere sadness–it’s much more than that.
Depression Fights Routines or Routines Fight Depression
If clinical depression is what you suffer from, it could make you moody, sulky and lethargic–symptoms that could run your start-up into the ground. It could also have far-reaching consequences, making ordinary daily tasks seem rather gargantuan. With clinical depression to combat, you should essentially have just small and time-bound routines that are easy to handle.
To begin with, divide your day slots according to the tasks that you need to perform. For example, you could devote the mornings for meetings and presentations. Afternoons could be restricted to desk work, whereas evenings could be your gym time, or reading to prepare yourself for brainstorming sessions.
Once you get into this system and achieve some measure of success, you can add on more tasks to make your day more productive. These could include discussion sessions, inspirational lectures and hanging out with friends. You must socialize with friends as this immediately makes you feel better. It drives away your loneliness and makes you feel wanted and loved, besides finding your mental level among friends and associates.
Depression is Positive
Isn’t that strange? Could depression actually have a positive angle to it? Depression might lead entrepreneurs into a hollow space of nothingness. You might be forced to do a lot of soul-searching, though you might not be able to get the answers you seek.
Who am I? What is my place in this universe? What is my goal in life? Why was I born? These questions nag you and you try to delve into your inner mind and find answers to these questions. This will force you to seek a new perspective and analyze yourself thoroughly. You might also go far into your experiences and seek solutions to your identity and purpose of life.
Taking the philosophical route could make you grounded. It takes you down within, and establishes a reconnect with WHAT you are. It does this by lighting up your concepts of Spirit, Awareness, Silence, conscience, etc. This compulsion to plunge within introduces you to the one that lies within, thus regenerating positive energy.
Benefits of depression
Depression is also positive because, say experts, it can teach you to solve problems. In fact, this isn’t depression’s only positive side. It has many more benefits, such as:
- You become a good problem-solver: Two leading symptoms of depression are poor concentration and constantly mulling over the problem that besets you. In order to make you focus better and overcome your depression, you need the help of a therapist. What makes you a good problem-solver is that the analytical skills you use to overcome your problem can help you make your life more effective and make better decisions. This is so because these decisions take long to make and require more effort to make decisions.
- You learn coping strategies: How you overcome your depression means you develop good coping strategies. Working with a therapist can open the doors to better coping skills. So, don’t resort to drinking or any other such solutions as these will only compound the problem.
- Your relationships improve: Often, people see depression as a sign to prioritize things in their lives. What leads to depression are mainly interpersonal problems, say experts. So, by concentrating on the lessons we learn from depression, we can use them to strengthen our bonds of friendships and other relationships. Besides, research also says that the depressed are more sensitive to social dynamics.
- You’re greatly compassionate: Once you come out of depression, you can be compassionate to others who are going through similar experiences.
- You overcome stress: During your depressed state, it’s common for you to spend a lot of time wondering how you got to this condition, what went wrong, etc. Using the professional help of a therapist, you can now learn sure shot ways of remaining stress-free.
A Life Saver- Public Forums for Startups
For an entrepreneur struggling with depression, respite comes in the form of his or her support systems. Take the case of the American entrepreneur, Dana Severson, who battled with depression. In his battle against depression, he found that there were many people like him suffering from depression who needed help. On the suggestion of his friend, he set up an online form called Startups Anonymous.
This forum puts up the concerns and queries of the tech industry, while keeping the identities of the queriers anonymous. Most concerns are anxiety- and depression-related. Through an email sent on this site, a life of an entrepreneur has been saved.
According to Dana, “The actions of its founder lead to the course that the startups follow. With this realization, the forum tries to understand the background of the entrepreneurs. They even took up an exercise for scrutinizing the reasons for the failure of startups on pocketed roads full of pits and bumps. Such public platforms, thus, shall hem down depression to a large extent through intensive support.”
Arming Entrepreneurs with a Tool against Depression
An intuitive mind is yet another tool that can be of great help to depressed entrepreneurs, according to Guglani. It aids the ‘flow’ towards right decisions. This is done by identifying the “higher purpose in the life of an entrepreneur. You cannot be working only for money,” he remarks, taking the examples of film celebrities Ekta Kapoor and Aamir Khan who work not only for money but for creative satisfaction too.
The Inadequacy of Depression in the Society
In cultures like the Indian culture, struggle and failures are considered tools for building character, and mild suffering and depression are considered normal in the course of accomplishments. Such acceptance creates situations where young depressed entrepreneurs cannot open up about their feelings, lest they should be seen as meek and cowards. It is true that struggle fastens deep anchors, but it is also important to understand that those suffering from this malaise might lack the strength to hold on to such anchors. Thus, it is important that if you are depressed, you should articulate and share your feelings of setback and depression freely and feel unburdened.
Retreats like Yoga to Fight Clinical Depression
Entrepreneurs feel a lot of stress when they come under pressure. Further, the inability to meet even small expectations may put them under a sword and rip them off their balance. A physical technique which not only would help you fight stress and anxiety, but would also make you more focused and smart at making entrepreneurial decisions, is yoga, coupled with meditation.
Yoga enhances concentration and reduces flaws. The age-old proven physical and mental relaxation techniques also aid you well. There are Yoga practitioners’ retreats in places like Nainital and Hrishikesh, where participants can dive into the universal consciousness of solidarity, where they can make themselves aware of their uniqueness.
Being Detached is Important
Even in adversities, entrepreneurs try to show off their stoic side, and they must, just like captains of a ship. Rutvik Doshi, Director, Inventus (India) Advisors, supports entrepreneurs crumbling under pressures by caring for their businesses. His advice to entrepreneurs is that like captains of ships, they too must stand for their businesses and set examples of strength to their crew, never allowing their businesses to sink with it.