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Prone To Depression? Scientists Say It’s Due To Your Creativity

Prone To Depression? Scientists Say It’s Due To Your Creativity

Those of us who have experienced depression understand its loneliness, its breathtaking ability to make us feel as if we don’t belong or have no real direction. But science is showing us that there may be more to this frustration than meets the eye. Those with creative brains tend to experience the world in different ways than others.

Evidence is rising to connect creative minds with depression and other mental health issues, but not for the reasons you may think. Though the mad artist and the creative mind have often been associated with mental health problems, science is showing that creatives feel depression due to their brain’s interactions with their environment – not because of their work. Some creative types may feel they are unusually prone to depression, when really we are experiencing quite a natural reaction to the world around us.

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Creative brains work on a different level

According to neuroscientist and author of The Creative Brain Nancy Andreasen, less creative types tend to adapt quite quickly to situations and surroundings based on what they have been told by authoritative figures, while those with creative minds experience things quite differently:

“This flexibility permits them to perceive things in a fresh and novel way, which is an important basis for creativity. But it also means that their inner world is complex, ambiguous, and filled with shades of gray rather than black and white. It is a world filled with many questions and few easy answers. While less creative people quickly respond to situations based on what they have been told by people in authority — parents, teachers, pastors, rabbis, or priests — the creative person lives in a more fluid and nebulous world.”

We experience the world with a different viewpoint: we question, ponder, and analyze. This can, unfortunately, lead to feelings of isolation, social alienation, or depression because we are different, and maybe because we feel we are strange or weird. What might seem a ‘normal’ environment, for a creative type, can be stressful and introverted in our complicated approach to society.

We are not alone

Such feelings of isolation are understandable, and there are many people who feel this same way all over the world. We all need to find others like us in order to feel a true sense of belonging. In the same way that politicians would probably feel uncomfortable and somewhat distressed at a dance school, so too do our creative minds feel disillusioned when it comes to fitting in somewhere we don’t feel we belong. Without the right tools, and the right encouragement and support to aid us in understanding that our differences are what make us special, we can very much begin to give in to the throes of depression.

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Embracing your creativity

Andreasen says that there are a few things we should remember when it comes to our creative minds. We must acknowledge our gifts, our talents, and under no circumstance let them go to waste. We need to treasure our talents and nurture them, as if we are tending to a precious garden. If we block out our talents, we are blocking out our true selves, which can lead to severe depression.

We must also embrace our strangeness – because we will likely always seem odd to someone who is less original than we are. Being weird is far more interesting than being normal. And surround ourselves with our people!! Our creativity will flourish, not to mention the fact that we will be loved and supported for exactly who we are.

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Andreasen admits that it is far more likely for creative types to be prone to mental illness which comes from “a problem with filtering or gating the many stimuli that flow into the brain.” Some creatives tend to shy from human contact because of highly sensitive personalities. But by understanding and embracing our uniqueness, we are helping to gain some ground in the fight against depression.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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