How is it that gifted adults, and even children, so easily become depressed? This is an interesting question that has been touched upon by many authors of many books over many years.
One part of giftedness is experiencing life at a deeper level than the average person — seeing beyond the facades of the world to the real and sometimes horrifying issues that lay hiding beneath.
Not having a veil over our vision as so many other people do brings stark realities to brilliant light, which, for us, can be very emotionally trying.
Shelley E. Taylor, PhD writes in her book Positive Illusions : Creative Self-Deception and the Healthy Mind:
“The mildly depressed appear to have more accurate views of themselves, the world, and the future than normal people. [They] clearly lack the illusions that in normal people promote mental health and buffer them against setbacks.”
It becomes easy to see how we can exhibit all of the signs of depression when we meet with intense situations with no way to filter any of them.
Unfortunately, for many gifted people, the visual cues of depression get identified as actual depression, or something even worse, when we finally seek medical help.
Which one of us walks up to our doctor and says, “Hi. I’m gifted and I’m having these symptoms. What do they mean?” And even if we did that, my guess is that many physicians wouldn’t necessarily be trained in giftedness well enough to be able to associate our desire to escape from the trials around us to our heightened sensitivities as gifted adults.
As a result, James T. Webb, Ph.D. notes in his article Mis-Diagnosis and Dual Diagnosis.. (and his related book):
“Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being mis-diagnosed by psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and other health care professionals.
“The most common mis-diagnoses are: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (OD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Mood Disorders such as Cyclothymic Disorder, Dysthyinic Disorder, Depression, and Bi-Polar Disorder.
“These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.”
So for those who are feeling down and out, before you take major medications, see if there have been any negative situations in your life that could be tied to your giftedness. If so, pursue those first.
If nothing seems to stand out for you, get some medical advice, but let your physician know you’re gifted as well. It’s worth taking the chance that he or she may offer some different insights with this extra knowledge.