Post-success Depression: What is it?

Have you ever wondered why many highly successful people face challenges like depression or even suicide? This phenomenon is often observed in the entertainment and events industry, but it can happen to anyone who achieves significant success.

Achieving success is like stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new environment, just like climbing to the top of a mountain. When you reach the summit, you’re exposed to thinner air with less oxygen. This can lead to symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and general malaise.

Post-success depression, also known as post-achievement burnout or anticlimax depression, is a mental health condition that can affect people after they achieve a significant goal or overcome a major challenge. It is characterised by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and a loss of motivation. People with post-success depression may also experience difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and a decrease in interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Similarly, when you achieve success, you may experience emotional and psychological distress as you adjust to your newfound position. The lack of support and understanding from others can make it difficult to cope with the challenges that come with success.

Symptoms of Post-success Depression

The symptoms of post-success depression can be similar to those of other types of depression, such as:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide

Factors that May Contribute to Post-success Depression

  1. Lack of Social Support: When you’re at the top, you may find that your friends and family are not as supportive as you had hoped. They may be jealous of your success or unable to relate to your new lifestyle.
  2. Increased Criticism: As you gain notoriety, you’ll also face more criticism. People will nitpick your accomplishments and find fault with your every move. This can be very discouraging and overwhelming.
  3. Isolation: Success can lead to isolation, as you may feel like you can’t connect with others who haven’t experienced the same level of achievement. This can make it difficult to maintain meaningful relationships.
  4. Perpetual Performance Pressure: The pressure to maintain your success can be immense. You may feel like you can’t take a break or relax, which can lead to burnout and anxiety.
  5. Loss of Identity: Your identity may become intertwined with your success, making it difficult to see yourself as anything other than a successful person. This can be limiting and prevent you from pursuing other interests or passions.

Navigating these challenges requires a strong support system and a healthy mindset. It’s important to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who believe in your worth. Additionally, practising self-compassion and prioritizing your mental health are crucial for maintaining well-being.

The decision of whether to focus on your success or return to your comfort zone is ultimately yours. While it may be tempting to retreat from the challenges that come with success, it’s also an opportunity to grow and develop into a stronger and more resilient individual. Embrace the challenges, seek support when needed, and celebrate your achievements along the way.

So how do you cope with the syndrome? Here are my tips. As first published in C. Hub magazine.