When Ambition Breeds Depression

In our modern era, with people competing every step of the way, success is largely viewed in terms of wealth and power. Those on top of the pyramid are viewed as the overachievers – the ones with the best-paying jobs, biggest cars and the most spacious houses. But are they also in the lead when it comes to their happiness levels? Surprisingly, research has shown otherwise.

“Known as ‘Success Syndrome’, it has now been recognized that with ambition comes the fear of failure and this paralyzing fear can be enough to drive people into depression”

With the ambition to succeed, there also comes a price to pay. Despite their bank balances being bigger than their less ambitious counterparts, ambitious people are hit by pervasive dissatisfaction and discontent. Also known as ‘Success Syndrome’, it has now been recognized that with ambition comes the fear of failure and this paralyzing fear can be enough to drive people into depression. Ambitious people also tend to be overly competitive and while this can be healthy at times, constant comparison to other people can in fact prove to be depressogenic.

Hitting Rock Bottom When You Reach The Top

“Ambitious people tend to put in all they’ve got in order to succeed, leaving them with a whole lot of money and no one to spend it with – this leads to feelings of social isolation and loneliness”

Celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar have openly come out and spoken about their battles with clinical depression at the peak of their careers. They felt empty, despite their professional successes. As is often said, it is lonely at the top. Ambitious people tend to put in all they’ve got in order to succeed, often sacrificing their personal commitments and genuine friendships in the process. By the end of it, they are left with a whole lot of money and no one to spend it with. This leads to feelings of social isolation and loneliness, breeding sadness and depression.

In addition, super achievers become so conditioned to receiving praise and recognition that they feel empty without it. They measure their self-worth in terms of the wealth and power they hold, failing to recognize that self-worth is not equivalent to their net worth and that happiness has to come from a place within.

It is important for us to realize that we are not just our careers. There are other defining aspects of our life like our personal relationships, social interactions and other interests that are actually more important in deriving intrinsic happiness and long-term success. We must remember- we’re in it not for the short run, but for the long-haul. Instead of focusing on finishing first, we should enjoy the race while it lasts.

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