Gifted adults are more vulnerable to existential depression.
Gifted adults are more likely to experience existential depression than those with average or above average intelligence.
They are more likely to ponder difficult topics.
Gifted adults are more likely to think about:
- the purpose of the life
- loss of freedom
- their own death
For some gifted adults — especially those that experienced developmental trauma as children — clinical depression is the next logical stop along the path.
For an illustration of how depression feels, watch I had a black dog, his name was depression.
They are more likely to ask questions without easy answers.
Questions gifted adults can ask over their life-span that contribute to existential depression might include:
- Why can people be so mean? Unthinking? Uncaring?
- Why should I try to make a difference when I can have so little impact?
- Is this all there is to life? Is there no ultimate meaning?
- Why does society put such strong restrictions in place regarding sex-roles for men and women?
Their resulting hopelessness can feel unending.
Most adults ask questions of this sort, but for gifted adults, the questions can be unending. Struggling with existential issues can lead to frustration and anger when sufficient support, and opportunities to discuss their questions, do not exist for gifted adults.
It is this frustration and anger, directed at issues that gifted adults cannot control, that can lead to serious depression.
Gifted adults can do much to combat existential depression.
Relaxation techniques including deep breathing, yoga, martial arts such as Qigong and Tai Chi, and getting out in nature to hike, cross-country ski, or garden are additional useful options to help combat existential depression. These types of activities “feed the soul,” which makes the angst of gifted adults more manageable. These activities can also provide settings where gifted adults are able to find meaning.
Books, and memberships in organizations where complex philosophical questions are discussed can also help.
However, if someone tells you they are suicidal, you need to know what to do.
When suffering becomes too intense to handle alone, a psychologist can help.
Working with a psychologist familiar with how to treat existential depression can also make a world of difference to gifted adults that are suffering.
When gifted adults have experienced developmental trauma as children, their existential depression can be compounded, warranting the help of a psychologist to an even greater degree.
You don’t have to tolerate existential depression if you are suffering. Reach out for help.
— Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta