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Research points to a higher incidence of depression in the creative industries. As a creative entrepreneur it is important to look after your well-being.

I was watching a segment on CNN where Christiane Amanpour was interviewing Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber about his distinguished career in musical theatre. In it Sir Lloyd referred to his struggle with depression, making the statement that every creative gets depression at some point or other. This made me pause. I have heard it said that those in the creative industries are three times more likely to get depressed* (*stats relate to the UK). So why is there a higher incidence of depression and the creative industries?

Some of the reasons given for this are:

  • isolation, as many creatives work alone;
  • creative work not being seen as having as much value as areas like STEM, so is under-appreciated by wider society often resulting in lower reimbursement rates of creative work or the expectations to work for free;
  • the constant battle to prove oneself, the struggle to get by, gain recognition and acceptance from family and friends for choosing a creative path.

Add to this the fact that creatives tend to feel quite deeply, its no wonder when combined all these things have a way of tipping some people over the edge.

From Van Gogh to Sylvia Plath to Alexander McQueen creative arts history is littered with stories of creative geniuses succumbing to depression in the most tragic of ways. There seems to be a fine line between creativity and madness. And too often the ‘madness’ gets dismissed as eccentricity.

But creative or not we live in a world where our minds have to deal with, and process so much information on a minute by minute, hour by hour basis so its no wonder it can and does feel overwhelming at times. And for the most part when that happens we can feel down, maybe have a little cry and then bounce back and carry on. The problem starts when you find it harder and harder to bounce back.

There is a lot in the media about mental health, particularly when it comes to social media, screen times and an increasing addiction to our phones. And as more and more well-known personalities speak out about their own experiences the stigma around mental health being something to be ashamed of is starting to fall away. 

This is not to say that if you are a creative that you will get depressed. But not to be afraid to get help if you do. Life doesn’t come with a user manual, and it’s ok to ask for help every now and then. Sometimes the books, apps and exercises that we turn to are not always as effective signalling that it is time to seek professional help. As creative business owners it is important that we take of ourselves in mind, body and spirit to ensure we can bring our best selves to all that we do.

Life doesn’t come with a user manual, and it’s ok to ask for help every now and then. – Tapiwa Matsinde

If you are reading this and are worried about a loved one, friend, or colleague don’t stay silent hoping things will resolve themselves. Ask them if they are ok, and keep asking them. We can be so wrapped up in our own problems we don’t always see the suffering of others until its too late.



[Image credits: The image shown belongs to Olga Pogodina on Unsplash. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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