INFJ and depression

topic posted Sun, January 30, 2005 - 7:54 PM by  kalikat
I was looking over at the INFP site and it seems there is a consensus over there about their type and depression. I haven't read it mentioned once here.
i'm curious, b/c we are extraverted feeling does that make it less likely for the J type to get depressed? Or is it just not being talked about here.
posted by:
SF Bay Area
  • I tend to get depressed, and it feeds the *I* in me...I cocoon till I feel better.

    Perhaps the *J* in us can judge the situation and get through it.

    I took meds for situational depression for a year... but now I don't, I just feel it and allow myself to heal at my own pace.
    • I don't get depressed--probably because I suck at shutting down. Those times when my life has gone awry, I tend much more to get anxious.--hyper-acuity and inability to make feeling stop. Seems almost the opposite of depression, to me.
      • Unsu...
        I have suffered from major depression for years. Sometimes debilitating at times...I shut down anyway though until I feel like coming out into everyone else's world, even when I am not depressed.
  • Unsu...
    I do get depressed or down, as everyone does. But I actually really value those periods. I've come to view them as more of a focusing or a return to parts of my life that are unbalanced. Usually my depression stems from parts of my life feeling out of sorts or unbalanced - or too much external pressures and not enough time alone and creative to regenerate. And if I allow myself to experience the low, the high comes sooner and lasts longer.

    When I was younger I used to think the depression was more dire than it really was, and possibly that tended to extend the length of time it would stay. Now that I'm older and more in tune to my body's cycles, I can usually figure out when it's going to pass, and what to do to get the best results from a low period in my energy cycle. (that sounds kinda new-agey - which is not really what I'm inferring ;))
  • Unsu...
    I suffer from dysthimic disorder (essentially, chronic, low-grade depression), occasionally interrupted by bouts of major depression (characterized as "double depression") and suicidal ideations.

    A good description of dysthimic disorder can be found here:

    "People with dysthymia generally experience little or no joy in their lives. Instead things are rather gloomy most of the time. If you have dysthymia you may be unable to remember a time when you felt happy, excited, or inspired. It may seem as if you have been depressed all your life. You probably have a hard time enjoying things and having fun. Rather, you might tend to be inactive and withdrawn, you worry frequently, and criticize yourself as being a failure. You may also feel guilty, irritable, sluggish, and have difficulty sleeping regularly."

    I thought that my psychiatrist was making up the term "double depression" ("You feel bad all the time, but sometimes you feel worse"). However, it's a widely-used term, as described here:

    "Double depression is an expression used to define a condition in people who experience long-term mild-to-moderate depression (dysthymia) and eventually progress to having episodes of major depression superimposed on the dysthymia. Almost always experiencing depressed mood, these individuals cycle between the mild-to-moderate lows of dysthymia and the deep lows of major depression."

    I don't discuss my depression in this tribe because, until this question came up, it would not have been relevant. Instead, I discuss this subject in the (you guessed it) Depression tribe.
    • ya, Ive had low grade depression with bouts of major depression all my life. I think it comes from being an intense feeler, as well as being introverted. The expression of depression implodes upon oneself. Ive been on 5/6 different types of antidepressants over the years. What happens is eventually they dont work/ which has a name all to itself called dahh...treatment resistant depression. Energy work helps alot.
    • Denise--

      I was told during this past year that I might be suffering from dysthimia. It's nice to hear someone else use the word! However, I was told that it was more like a less serious version of depression, and I tend to experience it as pretty mild most of the time with some periods of really bad depression. Those tend to be situationally driven, though. The last very bad period I experienced was last winter, about November to January. I was irritated all the time, tired, didn't want to talk to anyone [other than about 3 people], and was totally overwhelmed when I sat down to try to complete any written assignment. I would try to write a sentence and 200 different ideas would come into my head, and I'd freeze.
  • I've been screened for depression a number of times, but haven't ever met the "official" criteria.... but, like Denise, I have been mildly but chronically dysthymic since my teens. It manifests as a sort of "background grayness" that never quite seems to go away, yet in no way affects my ability to be a functional human being. It's almost like my "highs" and "lows" are closer to the baseline than most other people's

    • BiPolar and on a cocktail of 3 meds, currently. I was undiagnosed for 20 years, and thought I was unipolar until a manic episode landed me in the psych ward!
      My depressive end was excruciating, like everyone's. I could barely go outside my apt. and even shopping for groceries was painful.
      "Joy". . .that word was just a theoretical concept.
      "Meaningful interaction", ditto.

      Seems like there's less of a connection between INFJ and depression than INFP and depression.

      (I switch between the two every time I test)
    • Unsu...
      Hey Peter,

      Good to see you again! You wrote: "It manifests as a sort of 'background grayness' that never quite seems to go away, yet in no way affects my ability to be a functional human being."

      Yeah, that's a phrase that I use rather frequently: "highly-functioning". In fact, I last used it, let's see, during my medical management session on Tuesday. After my diatribe (during which I was typically articulate and expressive, which confounds diagnoses of depression), the P. A. remarked, "So now would not be a good time to talk about taking you off Klonopin..."

      Better living -- and better sleeping -- through pharmacology.

      • Hi Denise,

        Good to see you, too!

        That whole "high-functioning" thing can be really annoying at times. I've never been on any form of pharmaceuticals... and the so-called "experts" I have talked to tell me that even on my WORST days I seem head an shoulders above other "sufferers," even when they are fully stoked up on meds. Maybe it's something related to giftedness, as well.... my brain, when it feels like a snail moving through honey, still runs circles around most people. I realize that sounds really conceited, but it's true... and seems contraindicative of anything related to depression.


        • Unsu...
          Hi Peter,

          About six months ago, I had a consultation with a psychologist who specializes in counseling of the gifted. She didn't get it, either.

          In other news, I am temping as a "due diligence analyst" at a large investment firm. I recently reported to the recruiter who placed me in the position: "Yesterday, [my immediate supervisor] told me for the third time that I work too quickly. He told me to slow down and indicated that I don't need to rush through the cases. This is my normal style of working. Generally, the more work I have, the more productive I am, without sacrificing accuracy or attention to detail. It concerns me that my high levels of productivity, focus, and conscientiousness are apparently seen as an anomalies here. This makes me wonder if I would fit in such an environment and whether my contributions would be fully valued. (I sit in an area, apart from my team, where people appear to spend most of their workday chit-chatting and making personal telephone calls.)" While I was at it, I asked for an increase in my hourly rate.

          How productive I would *really* be if I weren't so depressed! Don't you just hate it when mediocrity is the standard?

          • "About six months ago, I had a consultation with a psychologist who specializes in counseling of the gifted. She didn't get it, either."

            Where do you find such psychologists?

            A professor with whom I am close, told me that part of the reason for my struggle with depression [dysthimia?] was that I was dealing with intellectual overload...For my whole life I was never taught that I was any smarter than anyone else--and suddenly, at university in a completely different programme, I find that I'm ahead of everyone, and being considered 'gifted' by people. I'm dealing with behaviour that many gifted kids deal with when they're 10 or 12 years old, or so I'm informed. It's a surreal experience, and it's all come on in the past 2 years, it's been a very intense time.
            • Unsu...
              I found the psychologist through an ad in the newsletter of my local Mensa chapter. What a waste of a morning's drive to Philadelphia -- and $110, not covered by insurance.

              This past weekend, I attended with a friend from high school a party hosted by some other former classmates, people I had not seen in nearly a quarter of a century. As I described in a recent blog entry, I was a nervous wreck beforehand. At the party were two couples of high school sweethearts -- the host and hostess of the party and a couple who hadn't heard that I would be attending. (Several of my other former classmates knew to expect me.) I was talking to Trish (who got me invited to the party) and Amy (my ninth-grade locker partner) when Marilyn, half of the couple who didn't know I'd be there, greeted the other two. She then politely extended her hand to me and said, "I don't believe we've met." Using my maiden name for the first time in eons, I shook her hand and introduced myself. The look of shock on her face was worth the price of admission.

              It was somewhat strange to be introduced to other guests at the party (and the mothers of the host and hostess) as, "Denise was our valedictorian." Nobody seemed to care that I haven't really "accomplished" anything. They appeared to enjoy my company -- and the stories of my life over the past quarter-century, including some things they didn't know about me in high school (including my battles with depression, anorexia, and impossible expectations). I confess that I basked in the spotlight of their attention. If I have opportunity to see them again, I will have to return the favor.

              In other news, I learned this past weekend that I had been accepted to The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry ( I joined in the hopes of being exposed to more "intelligent" banter than that among Mensans -- or, as I e-mailed the Director of Admissions: "I am delighted that my application for membership in the ISPE has been approved. I look forward to actively pursuing full Membership, to engaging in thought-provoking correspondence with the other members, and to challenging myself to use my intelligence in some manner for the greater good."

              blah blah blah
          • I was super productive till this past year and a half, at which point I kinda crashed. been diagnosed with dysthmia and major depression for a very long time, 10+ yr in and out of counseling. But it never impaired my functioning till recently. In fact-i was such a workaholic i usually put in 70-90 hr weeks at numerous jobs, and got good grades when in school.

            Now I'm on meds, weekly counseling, and can't keep jobs for very long. But I believe there is a reason for it, and that this cycle will pass. And in a few small ways I'm actually learning things about myself, my relationships, friendships and the external world, that I never had.

            shrinks tell me overcoming a traumatic past takes alot of effort and time--and if you ignore it, or only deal with it on an intellectual level eventually it will slam you in some unexpected but dramatic ways. *shrugs*

            But overall I think the reduction in my obligations/responsibilities, and decrease in my cost of living and social activities is giving me much needed time to recup, and focus on myself, and work through the past, instead of taking care of others like I have been consistently for most of my life.
  • I was also disgnosed with dysthimic disorder. This was during my freshman year of college - oy.

    Now at the ripe age of 22, I still find myself occasionally hitting bottom but have developed the ability to climb back out. I think the major different between then and now is that I know I have a purpose for living, and I am able to visualize my ideals.

    My depression comes when my doubts, fears, and limitations overpower my ideals. At this point, my will slips out of my grasp and falls into the hands of the "puddle-polly." Although she never takes action on her thoughts, puddle-polly mentally destroys all of my aspirations and leaves me feeling completely purposeless. In this place, I'd rather die than talk to anyone or do anything.

    Sometimes I stay here for a while, but more and more lately I've been choosing to empower my ideals again. Although it's quite a battle, I'll tell puddle-polly to close her eyes and turn off her brain. Though a simple concentration exersize, I still my mind and take my will back into my own hands, knowing reality is what I create it to be.

    Love yourself and you'll never be lost...

    Love and Light,
  • Two of my best friends are INFP's (Chris and Jen) and they both have problems with depression and have been on all sorts of medications and see various doctors about it all the time. Poor Jen has all sorts of hormonal problems as well, which makes things even worse, but I try to avert my innocent ears from that kind of discussion ;)

    It doesn't seem to be as big of a problem with my INFJ friends, although one gets so immobilized by her depression that she can't go to work sometimes, and has had to quit jobs because of the stress levels. She's a social worker, so that kind of makes things tough for her.

    My mom's an INFP, and she's bipolar. Dad's an INTP and he just wonders what's wrong with the rest of us <g> I tend to bounce between happy and sad pretty abruptly and pretty hard, but it's not nearly to that extreme. When I feel down I recognize that it's a normal part of my "cycle" and try to have some quiet time for myself. I try not to worry about it too much because I know that given enough time I'll bounce back to a high again. Contrariwise, if I'm bouncing off the walls happy then I realize that eventually I'm going to have to crash and burn for a while. On the other hand, my sister is also an INFJ and she seems to be pretty well balanced all the time. Go figure.
    • >Contrariwise, if I'm bouncing off the walls happy then I realize that >eventually I'm going to have to crash and burn for a while.

      What I have noticed is that INFJs tend to "burn out"
      rather than get depressed over the long term.
      They put themselves fully into their "work" untill they no longer have an ounce to give. When this happens they do run into depression like symptoms. Sadly INFJ's rarely understand that they have overextended themselves and continue to work making things worse.

      When this happens they need time to recoup, unplug from the world and just care for themselves for a little bit.

      Do you guys have any suggestions on how to deal with "burnout"?
      • It seems to me like the only way one can burn out is if one ceases to see the purpose of giving.

        With this in mind, my suggestion is to develop a clear image in your mind of your highest Ideal for yourself, then create goals of ways that you may manifest that ideal through your daily activities. In this way, you'll realize that you have as much energy to give as you choose to create!

        P.S. I am no expert at this and am actually recovering from a hard bout of depression/burn-out, but gosh darn it I've got faith!

        Love and Light,

        • This is exactly what I mean.
          INFJs will continue to give, thinking that their
          capacty to give is infinate. No human is infinate ,
          we all need time to regenerate/recharge.
          INFJ have a tough time realizing that they
          have overspent their batteries.
          Not realizing your own limits is very damaging over the long term and it has the potential to lessen your capability to give in the future.

          Ultimately givers have to
          spend time pampering themselves every once in a while so they never get to the point of ceasing to see the purpose of giving.

          • Although I am still working to experience it, I firmly believe that human beings do have infinite amounts of energy available to them.

            Think of yourself as a radio antenna, and the sun as the tower sending the signal. When we're children, we receive a pure signal and we have boundless energy. As we grow through adolescence, we construct these "bubbles" or "shields" around us. These protect us from harm, but they also prevent some energy from coming in.

            With all this in mind, imagine what could happen if you deprogrammed all your shielding mechanisms. All of your energy drains would be removed, and you would be infinite once again!
            • Unsu...
              Wow. I'm wired just like Denise and Noah. I don't remember many parts of my life when I was NOT depressed.
              • Unsu...
                And I am also part of the Denise/Noah/Gemini clique. I was trying to think about the last time in my life when there was not the undercurrent of depression in the background and I can come up with about age 8 or so...
                • <nod> It kind of comes and goes for me. There are a handful of bright spots in my memory when I was really happy and don't remember being depressed, but the more I think about it the more I think I might have felt depressed then as well but that I've just forgotten those feelings. But alas the world has moved on from those days and I can't seem to figure out how to get back to the mental "place" I was before.

                  Welcome to the group, btw :)
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Thanks! And you've described it exactly.

                    I've been reading "The Highly Sensitive Person" and, although I'm not big on self-help books in general, it seems to fit. I would think most INFJ's are "highly sensitive people." We seem to draw in and experience the pain of others...I'm actually surprised more INFJ's *aren't* depressed.
                    • Oh, yes, all the "Highly Sensitive Person" stuff fit me to a "T"! It was the first thing that described me exactly, other than the INFJ personality profile, which I found out about at pretty much the same time several years ago. And yes, I've had periods of depression in my life starting from when I was a kid and would just get "blue". Often, with piercing perception, and the constitutional inability to be phony and "bubbly", comes a certain depression knowing that one will never "belong", unless one finds others who are going through the same thing. I'm probably older(age 60)than many people here although I can't say that with absolute certainty, but I have lived with this situation life-long, and in the past thought something was "wrong" with me. It has been a real learning process for me to accept this as the way I'm wired, and that it could be a gift instead of the liability that our extroverted society tells us it is.
                      Have recently(more than a year ago)relocated back to San Francisco after 12 years away, and it seems to be hard to meet compatible people in the flesh, as it were. We have some old friends here, but have not made any new ones, despite getting out a lot. Even having one or two cool new friends who understand this stuff would help alot, short of just going for more counselling(which I've taken a huge break from after an intensive 3 years of such).
                • Unsu...
                  "And I am also part of the Denise/Noah/Gemini clique..." Wow! I've never been part of a clique before! <grin> Welcome to you, Hope.

                  I had a brief respite from my underlying depression when I was 19. I am thankful now that I recognized it AT THE TIME, so I knew to enjoy that year as it was unfolding before me rather than look back upon it with nostalgic regret.

                  I have decided that my next birthday will begin another special period in my life. One might wonder, "Why wait?" However, I have some administrative details to address between now and my April birthday, including landing a job and fighting for custody of my two daughters.

                  Regarding the custody battle, I must say that my (controlled) anger and my determination to fight for the best interests of my daughters has (at least for the moment) displaced the depression somewhat and revealed strengths I never knew I had.

                  But I digress.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    April sounds like a good time to start a new phase in your life to me :)

                    Good luck in your custody battle. I know that those kinds of things are very difficult on everyone and can take quite a toll on your emotions. Still, sometimes we can amaze ourselves with our inner strength when our hour of need approaches. Hang in there, Denise.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    I also find that when I am angry over something (just learned how to be angry during this last bout of counseling) and it is usually justifiable, I get pulled out of my depression and actually gain some energy to fight the injustice. I can also be passionately motivated and have an unending supply of energy when I am actively helping people through their issues or with a problem.

                    other than that though, lately i haven't had much energy
            • >> All of your energy drains would be removed, and you would be infinite once again!

              So would you need to eat or sleep or breathe? Sounds like an Airatarian motif.

              Sorry, that was my INTJ skeptic side.
        • This is such an old post... I know... :)
          BUT for any future readers (such as myself) I am going to go ahead and respond.

          I think INFJ's (at least) "burn out" when they are doing things that burn them out.

          - Too much extraversion. Trying to keep up with an extroverted society (here in the US anyway). If your work requires you to be fairly extroverted a lot of the time, you may find you'll burn out. One-on-one type of interactions drain you less. The degree to which you are introverted will play a role, too. I think being an elementary school teacher or a bed-side nurse are positions that usually appeal to the INFJ, but they have to keep in mind that they need plenty of solitude to re-coop. Having young children at home may take its toll on the INFJ who has to be around a lot of ppl all day long and with their children in the evening long. Day in and day out will most definitely burn the introvert out. We just gain energy from our wonderful alone-time. Time to think and play with ideas.

          - Sensing is the most vulnerable of all the INFJ's functions. We get drained - big time! - by having to be in the here-and-now constantly. We really need a little room to stretch our intuitive wings. This is one reason I find taking care of preschoolers to be overwhelming. All the constant interruption of my thoughts, the constant needs of the children. AND all of the mundane tasks ... laundry, dishes... all day, everyday.

          The intuitive introvert can have a hard time trying to meet the needs of a lot of people all at the same time. And if they are a feeling type it is compounded by their desire to meet everyone's needs all at the same time, or at least their awareness of everyone's needs. Any endeavor requiring this type of activity will leave the INFJ needing plenty of alone time, away from other's needs, to recuperate. They may love their job, but it still saps their energy.

          - If a feeling type is around a lot negativity, competition, ... and the like it will take its toll on them. INFJ's like working harmoniously for the better good.

          - If a job/hobby requires a lot of P - changing of plans, etc. It may take its toll on the INFJ. Also, it depends on how strong each individual identifies with each dichotomy.

          As far as depression goes - I have to agree that the introvert is more vulnerable. I am an INFJ with bipolar affective disorder. Also, my mom happens to be an INFP with schizophrenia. I think people of all types are at risk for mental illness, though. I think mental illnesses do run in families (genetics), I don't know if personality types do (doubtful).

          Also, my theory is, what ever your personality type if you also suffer from any type of mental illness your "personality weaknesses" will only be that much more apparent. Just a thought.

          Good luck
          • Monica, your post is old, but it seemed as if you were speaking directly to me. I am an INFJ special education teacher for kiddos in kindergarten, first and second grades. I love my job, but when I come home from work I am completely zapped. I literally do nothing. Many times I come up to my bedroom and take a nap. If I do this I can interact with my family later on in the evening. A little bit of solitude is essential. I often feel very guilty about this. I know that my family needs me, but when I come home there is literally nothing left. I am not capable of meeting the needs of everyone. I am very good as my job and work extremely hard at , but it makes me wonder if it was the right choice.
  • I recently sent this information to my adopted son, a psychology major-the curious thing about all these folks is that their genuis, talent, their works, and their position in life all gave them a significant determination to make it through their sometimes debilitating symptoms. They all had a cause-a powerful drive-to create, lead, perform-and through their passionate work-many times transformed their illness/difficulties into a means to connect with others or served as a profound influence on their productions.

    There are a great many more individuals that have had an impact on the public sphere that are not mentioned here. it is interesting to note that the majority of the homeless in America today are suffering from some form of mental illness or distress-and usually choose to self-medicate through drugs or alcohol to survive. Many do not choose to act out in criminal ways-or to take their own lives, regrettably a small number do out of sheer desperation. Although there are treatments for most forms of mental illness or mood disorders (psychiatric as well as spiritual options exist) the pernicious nature of these symptoms is that a person finds it difficult if not impossible to believe any treatment will work for them-if they are even able to acknowledge that they have a disorder.
    • I go through them once every 7 years. While they feel like a curse that I don't deserve at the time, looking back, I find taht they were periods where I needed to heal.

      When I was 7, it was because I was in a physically abusive family and couldn't get out.
      When I was 14, my body had morphed so considerably with the onset of puberty, that my body needed to heal and rebalance
      When I was 21, I was burned out on sex, dating, betrayals, hurts, stress and money problems- the college lifestyle...and I needed to rebalance who I am with what I want (sex, dating and money are things that I want, but I typically had to step outside of myself to get them, which was burning myself at both ends).
      • I find that when I'm feeling sad, depressed, anxious, irritated, etc... I go through my own self-psycho analysis session. I take an inventory of everything in my life that's going on, the whether, and situations, and I often pinpoint why I feel the way I do. My next step has to do with fixing the situation and making things right. I don't find my self as overwhelmed as I used to, and I rarely find myself depressed.
        INFJ's are natural counselors and we need to remember to use our gifts on ourselves as much as we use them on other people, so that we are more effective.
        • I am currently in counseling because of depression. I began having what i was calling nervous breakdowns, but I am not sure that is the right term for it. What I see now in retrospect, is that it was triggered by failure. When i felt like I failed at something, a chain reaction would happen and I would run through a list of "shoulds" that I had also failed to do in other areas of my life. I consistently found myself "trudging" like I was simply not designed for the world, but was forced into it anyway. I would often find myself thinking "I am not human, I don't feel human." Which I know seems strange but it was the sense that nobody else seemed to have such a hard time with everyday life like I did.

          I think there are three essential things that INFJ's need in order to feel O.K.

          1.) That everything will somehow be O.K. in the end, and that we are not alone.

          2.) We need a "mystery", something to chase down and bring back to others for their benefit, something that allows us to use our deep insight to find answers to questions that other people cannot seem to find, and suffer for the lack of them.

          3.) We need to know that we are making a difference, regularly helping others come to terms with their own thoughts and feelings, with the ultimate goal of helping others connect with the mystery, or find personal growth.

          I have recently begun to understand myself with this type of imagery: INFJ's are monks in the city. We feel the need to build a monastery wherever we go, both for our personal survival and for the benefit of others. While it does at times seem overwhelming and impossible, as monks are so not accustomed to city life, they recognize it as necessary because of the masses who need help. INFJ's long to go "home" to somewhere they feel like they have always belonged, but know that they cannot, because they have a calling in the city.

          Anybody else agree/disagree with this or have similiar experiences with thought patterns that lead to depression?