I’m an INFJ, and I’m clinically depressed. I’ve recently dropped 10 kg without trying, and lately my nights have been plagued by insomnia. I think I’m having a mid-life crisis in my early 20s because I can’t find meaning or purpose in my current situation.
Of course, not all INFJs are depressed, and INFJs are certainly not the only Myers-Briggs personality types to struggle with depression. However, due to our sensitive nature, as well as our unique way of seeing the world, it’s not uncommon for us INFJs to deal with depression at some point in our lives.
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Based on my own experiences, here are five reasons why this rare personality type might feel depressed.
Why the INFJ Struggles With Depression
1. We’re emotionally exhausted from taking on other people’s feelings.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve soaked up other people’s feelings without realizing it. Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming or floating or drowning in a maelstrom of emotions that don’t even belong to me.
As a result, I’m emotionally exhausted all the time. I quickly burn out in social situations and highly stimulating environments.
Whenever I’ve tried to explain this feeling to others, I often get the response: “Don’t worry about what others think.” The truth is, I’m not worried about what others think. I feel what others feel. When I walk into a room, I absorb people’s vibes — as though their energy is a tangible thing that has lured me away from my own self.
Being able to let go of the emotions of others and compartmentalize is extremely difficult for me, and it often makes me emotionally exhausted to the point of finding it difficult to function.
One of my managers picked up on this recently and said to me, “It’s like you’re a bank — most people are withdrawing and withdrawing without depositing anything back.”
Sadly, INFJs are known for this. We often take on careers in psychology and counselling, and even if we don’t, we unconsciously deal with the deep psychological issues of others without realizing it. Although empathy is our greatest strength, empathy burnout can take a toll.
2. We have very high standards for ourselves.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism a lot throughout my life. Sometimes, it’s advantageous. For example, when I’m working on an academic paper or finalizing a project, my meticulous eye can turn small successes into even greater triumphs.
Although perfectionism has been my unsung hero, it has also been my inner villain. I’ve always had high standards for myself and am disappointed if I don’t meet those standards. In my late teens and early twenties, I studied full-time, worked full-time across three jobs, and attempted to maintain a social life. I tried to make all the facets of my life “perfect — until I burned myself out.
I’ve recently come to realize that I’m awfully hard on myself. I’m disappointed when I cannot express myself to others in ways I’d hoped. If I have to do a presentation at work, I’ll idealize the perfect outcome, then beat myself up when I don’t perform exactly how I’d imagined. The same goes for my creative work — I often imagine something far greater than what is actually produced, and as a result, I’m often disappointed and disheartened.
As INFJs, our Introverted Intuition coupled with our judging nature makes us prone to having high expectations for ourselves, which means we often feel like we’re failing. When this happens, our introverted and emotional nature intensifies these feelings inward, making it difficult to cope, often leading to anxiety or depression.
3. Conflict really stresses us out.
INFJs tirelessly work towards harmony, often to the point of exhaustion. Although this may appear like an act of selflessness, their efforts are partially selfish, as INFJs need their external environment to be at peace before they can be at peace internally.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always avoided conflict. Conflict is my Achilles’s heel. When there is conflict in one of my close relationships, it consumes me and leaves me feeling hopeless and vulnerable. I can hardly relax, rest, or take care of myself if I feel any sort of negativity in my environment. In fact, there have been many times when conflict has made me feel physically sick.
4. We crave meaning and purpose.
As an idealistic INFJ, I’m driven by meaning and purpose. I struggle when my work does not match my values and my desire to make a difference.
INFJs are notorious for championing a cause or advocating for others. When we’re unsure of our causes or cannot find meaning in our work, we float around rather lost, unsure of our purpose in life. This leaves us feeling pretty down in the dumps.
5. We overthink and overthink and overthink.
As an INFJ, overthinking is one of my biggest problems. In fact, if overthinking were an Olympic sport, I think INFJs would get the gold medals. We have a tendency to ruminate and reflect, and not always in the best ways.
Although most INFJs are proud of their ability to reflect — as well as their near-psychic intuition to pinpoint when there’s something wrong or forecast how things will unfold — overthinking can be detrimental to our mental health. Overthinking is when the little voice in our head gets out of control and we aren’t able to shut it down. It’s the kind of voice that is nasty and obsessive, and leads us nowhere.
For example, let’s just say someone asks me a question and I don’t give a good answer in the moment. For days to come, I might keep thinking about the question and answering it in my head over and over again as if I could somehow change my response. I overanalyze and overthink so much that it makes my brain hurt and leaves me exhausted.
If you’re an INFJ who is struggling with depression, know that you’re not alone. Remember to take care of yourself, just like you take such good care of others. And know that depression doesn’t have to last forever; you can learn to manage your emotions and feel better. See the resources below to help you get started.
More Depression Resources
- Help for Introverts Who Are Struggling With Depression
- What to Do When You Feel Overstimulated and Overwhelmed
- 5 Spring and Summer Mood Boosters for Introverts
- 15 Signs That You’re an Introvert With High-Functioning Anxiety
- Help for Introverted Moms Dealing With Postpartum Depression
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