Anxiety and depression often go undetected in highly successful business people. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that individuals in business have perfect lives. This is far from the truth. So this post shares some stories that could help you on your journey.
Real life case studies
Benita is in her 30s and a CEO of a medium size company. She has won various awards within business. In an interview on her success she said how important it is to surround yourself with people that are very different to you. Greater diversity in a team brings greater success.
The reality is that currently she is unable to handle any differences of opinion. When a team member differs from her she becomes exceedingly defensive and critical. She either plays the “blame” game or turns every issue into some kind of drama. As a result she is alienating the very people whose support she needs most.
It is very clear that Benita is suffering from anxiety. The smallest challenge triggers an “over the top” reaction. She remains in hyper alert mode and takes everything personally. Is it any wonder that there has been a constant outflow of top team members in recent years?
Timothy is an administrator at a private hospital. The pressure is intense for all medical staff to adhere to very strict protocols. The staff is taking strain. And as is normal, challenges do arise with patients. Most often these can be taken back to where the prescribed protocol was not followed correctly. As a result he feels he is fighting fires and out of control.
He recently commented that he feels numb and dead inside. He has become quiet and withdrawn at home and has lost interest in socialising. There is no doubt that Timothy is suffering from anxiety and/or depression. He is a high risk for burn out or a heart attack.
Brian is a creative director in an advertising agency. I have never seen him laugh and his smiles are somewhat unnatural. He is rated highly in his industry so the expectation is there that he needs to consistently perform well. This places immense strain on him. He feels he can never relax but always needs to think of what to do next.
As a result he reacts from his “back up” mode most of the time: he makes hurtful comments, blames everyone around him and is abrupt. So this makes it very difficult for others to connect with him socially and have a meaningful conversation. His natural inclination is to make biting comments to his wife and children. Even his wife is a little scared of him!
Brian will never admit that he is suffering from anxiety and depression.
Signs to look for in highly successful individuals
I would like to share some typical signs in highly successful people as indicators of anxiety and depression:
- Being very serious, or feeling listless and “down”
- Coming across as emotionally flat or numb, loss of interest in life
- Over reacting to every situation and turning everything into some kind of drama, being angry continuously, picking fights with everyone
- Being very critical or negative, venting or exploding with minor irritations
- Withdrawing socially
- Either over eating or a loss of appetite
- Sleep problems: struggling to sleep or sleeping too much
- Problems with concentration and memory
Strategies to help you
It is important for you to check in with yourself on a regular basis to determine if you could be suffering from anxiety or depression. A stress management workshop would equip you and your team to manage the inevitable challenges in life better.
Be honest with yourself and rather seek help sooner than later. Consult your general practitioner. You have a choice of either going on to medication or seeing a psychologist. With counselling you will identify the causes of your anxiety or depression. You will also learn constructive coping skills and strategies that you can take with you in the future.
Be kind to yourself. Be proactive as opposed to waiting for your body to give you a more severe wake up call. We can learn to avoid or manage anxiety and depression.
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