Are You An INFJ? Depression Could Be A Risk -- Here's Why
Updated September 06, 2019
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is arguably the most popular personality test in the land, used by many websites and employers alike. Many who take this test find personality type information informative, spot-on, and fun.
MBTI Personality Inventory
For those unfamiliar with this test, the MBTI Personality Inventory is a set of questions designed to assess your personality in four key areas. When you complete each of the questions, you will be placed on four spectra. They will measure introversion/extroversion, intuition/sensation, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. The first letter of the side toward which you lean on each spectrum will give you a four-letter personality type.
This article is written for the INFJ - introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging - oriented individuals. If you are an INFJ, your friends may identify you as the "advocate" or "confidant" of the group. You are easy to talk to, very trustworthy, and more than willing to stick your neck out for the people you hold dear. These are qualities that make you extremely likeable, and can lead to an abundance of substantive, lifelong relationships. Sounds like a great life, right?
It can be a great life, but this life may not always be sunshine and rainbows. Often, the people that seem the happiest suffer the most - they just do so in silence. This may be the "curse" of INFJ depression. Despite the many advantages that such a lovable personality would confer, nothing is without its downside. In this article, we'll discuss a few reasons why INFJs are prone to the common cold of the psyche.
The Atlas Personality
If you are not familiar with him, Atlas is a mythological character who literally holds the weight of the world on his shoulders. It seems preposterous that anyone would actually be able to do that, but in a way, INFJ personalities do it pretty frequently. The weight they carry cannot be quantified physically, though - it is emotional weight they often bolster.
Previously, this personality type was referred to as the "confidant", and for good reason. If you are in a bad place in life and need a place to vent, an INFJ will always have your back. When the people they love are hurting, they will hurt right alongside them, and they will not stop until the problem is successfully resolved. When this pain is very strong and comes from several different sources, it is easy to see why this can lead to an INFJ being prone to depression.
Most people prefer to be surrounded by positivity. Being around happy people makes us happy, too - and in turn, we make other people happy, and then more people want to be around us. The INFJ, as the "advocate", is willing to stay beside someone who is unhappy, because they just cannot stand to see someone suffering.
Many of us would agree that it feels good to help people. As social beings, many of us feel strongly about being of service to one another, and nothing is more contagious than a smile. It can be argued, however, that everything is best in moderation, and INFJs are susceptible to helping too much. This might mean always taking the short end of the stick - and living like that can be stressful.
When you are known as the shoulder to cry on, there can be a lot of pressure for you to maintain that role indefinitely. What happens, then, when you need a shoulder to cry on for once? For many INFJs, the answer is simply "you don't get one." Yet we wonder why for INFJs, depression can seem like a risk.
Being there for someone in their time of need is virtuous through and through. The problems begin, though, when INFJs allow the internal pressure to build and build continuously until they just boil over. Extending past this point of maximum capacity is what stands to thrust one into INFJ depression. As caught up as they are in trying to improve the state of someone else's mind, they may start to neglect their own and it can all become too much to handle.
Any INFJ finding themselves in the situation as described may benefit from speaking to a mental health professional. Feeling like everyone is able to talk to you and you are unable to talk to them is not a good position to be in. A lot of times, it just helps to have someone to vent to. You might not want advice, or "answers" - maybe you just want to be heard out for once.
We all need someone to talk to. It is not healthy for anyone, INFJ personality type or otherwise, to neglect their own need to express themselves, even if it means you cannot be everyone's hero. Those who truly care will understand if, after all you have been through, you need to let off some steam every once in a while, too. If you do not, you might be putting yourself at risk of INFJ depression.
Social, Yet Isolated
While being an introvert may mean parties or social gatherings are not always your cup of tea, every healthy person has others in their life that they feel connected to. For INFJs, the company they keep is often a tight-knit group of close friends characterized by deep, strong friendships. Just because an INFJ gets along with a person or persons does not, however, necessarily mean that they identify with them.
With a whopping 1% of the population consisting of INFJs, it might be hard for them to find others who truly understand them. While that situation is not quite as bad as, say, being stranded on a desert island, it might feel pretty close to that sometimes. People may like them, and they may like those people too, but at the end of the day they can feel like there is always some degree of separation between themselves and others.
Loneliness is a powerful instigator not only of INFJ depression, but of depression in general. When prisoners spend a long time in solitary confinement, they have been known to show signs of severe depression. This can be accompanied by a host of other symptoms. The importance of social interaction and a feeling of connectedness with others is an important element of mental health.
In the event that an INFJ does make this connection, though, the person they make that connection with is sure to mean the world to them. With such understanding sometimes being a rare experience for the INFJ, a relationship in which it occurs can beget memories most beautiful. INFJs should be encouraged to make the effort, no matter what it takes, to go out and find someone they feel a connection with. Of course, one is not able to force a connection like this to be made, but the least that can be done is getting out there and taking some risks every so often.
What Can I Do About My INFJ Depression?
If you are an INFJ who is suffering from depression, or if you know an INFJ who is suffering, therapy is a sound suggestion. As mentioned earlier, therapy is a way for an individual to have their voice heard and their concerns addressed by a licensed professional. In a world where you sometimes feel like you have to carry everyone's burden, it might be nice to know that there is someone who will carry yours.
In addition to this support, licensed mental health professionals are able to use a number of effective treatment methods to help your depression. They might have you keep a journal (which, as an INFJ, you probably already do), take on some new hobbies, or get in touch with old friends and family. They can help you manage the stress of life, whether it stems from your friends, school, or work.
If therapy is something you are considering, BetterHelp can help you find a professional near you. It will take time and effort, but you are sure to emerge from the program in a much better state of mind. You can feel relieved and more energetic, and find yourself enjoying the little things once again.
If you're an INFJ, and you're reading this, stay strong. The world is tough for both you and also for the people who come to you for help. Although you may want to save everyone, don't ever forget that you are a person, too - and you deserve the same love you give the rest of us.