Have you ever wondered which personality type is most prone to depression? Well, psychology researchers and experts over the years have too. A quick disclaimer, though: although there are certain personality types more vulnerable to depression than most, research has yet to find a clear and concrete association between personality and depression. So just because you do have these certain personality traits doesn’t mean that you will develop depression, only that you may be at risk of it.
With that said, here are some of the personality types found to be most prone to depression:
According to a 2018 article by the Neurohealth Associates, people high in introversion and neuroticism — two traits from the Big Five theory of personality — are most likely to experience negative thoughts. Introverts, in particular, had a greater tendency to recall more negative events, as found in a study by Dr. Florin Dolcos. Furthermore, introverted men were found to be at higher risk for depression than introverted women because they tended to not only recall more negative memories, but lacked the opportunity to express the resulting negative feelings and gain the needed social support to recover.
Going back to our earlier point, people who were high in both introversion and neuroticism were also found to be more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Neuroticism is defined by the National Institutes of Health as “a trait disposition to experience negative affects, including anger, self-consciousness, irritability, and emotional instability.” This means that those with this personality trait are naturally more emotionally sensitive and more prone to emotional fluctuations, which can make it harder for them to bounce back from negative experiences.
3. Creativity & Artisticness
Another personality trait associated with an elevated risk of depression are the creative and artistic types. In an article for The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, psychology professors and researchers Paul Silvia and James Kaufman found evidence in current research that some domains of creativity (e.g., creative writing) are indeed associated with some forms of mental illness, most especially depression and bipolar disorder. This is most likely because creativity and the flight of ideas tends to make a person deeply emotional, ruminative, and self-critical — which brings us to our next point!
4. Overachievers & Perfectionists
Similar to artistic types, people with an overachieving and perfectionist personality type tend to be more self-critical than most, which is probably what makes them more prone to depression. According to a recent study by Thomas Curran, assistant professor at the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Sciences in London, socially prescribed perfectionism can be especially debilitating because “individuals believe their social context is excessively demanding, that others judge them harshly, and that they must display perfection to secure approval.” His findings report that it’s closely linked with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
According to a 2009 study by Janowsky and colleagues, of the 16 personality types described by the MBTI, the one found to have the highest rates of depression were ISFPs. Keep in mind, however, that correlation does not imply causation and that the MBTI is not designed to diagnose mental health conditions like depression. What this study merely found is that, among a sample of patients diagnosed with depression, the majority of them had an Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving personality type.
Now, going back to our earlier disclaimer, it’s important to understand that no particular personality type or trait directly causes someone to have depression. Understanding which aspects of our personalities, however, that may be making us more prone or more vulnerable to it may be helpful. So if you relate to a lot of the points we’ve mentioned here and are seriously struggling with depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental healthcare professional today and get the help you need to better manage your depressive symptoms.
- Neurohealth Associates. (2018). “Two Personality Types that Are Most Susceptible to Depression.” Retrieved from https://nhahealth.com/two-personality-types-that-are-most-susceptible-to-depression/#:~:text=People%20high%20in%20neuroticism%20
- Widiger, T. A. & Oltmanns, J. R. (2017). Neuroticism is a fundamental domain of personality with enormous public health implications. World Psychiatry. 2017 Jun; 16(2): 144–145.
- Press Association. (2019). “Personality types susceptible to depression pinpointed by scientists.” Retrieved from https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/personality-types-susceptible-to-depression-pinpointed-by-scientists/
- Optimist Minds. (2023). “Personality Types Prone to Depression (+ How to Cope).” Retrieved from https://optimistminds.com/personality-types-prone-to-depression/
- Sandoiu, A. (2018). “How Perfectionism Affects Your (Mental) Health.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323323#How-perfectionism-affects-our-overall-health
- Janowsky, D. S., Hong, E., Morter, S., & Howe, L. (2002). Myers Briggs Type indicator personality profiles in unipolar depressed patients. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 3(4), 207-215.