Trader/Entrepreneur or Depression – Which Came First the Chicken or the Egg?

Do traders/entrepreneurs become depressed when they fail or are they already depressed and become traders/entrepreneurs to run away from it?

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In Episode 18 of “My Wakeup Call” podcast, I interviewed serial entrepreneur, Jay Reid, who had the worst wakeup call a parent can have. And that was finding out that his 14 year-old son, Ryan, had hung himself. Ryan left two notes. The first one was the passcodes to his technology and social media sites and the second said, “Tell My Story.” To that end Jay has embarked on a personal mission to End Teen Suicide by 2030 including producing a movie entitled, “Tell My Story.”

But that is not what I am writing about here.

It is documented that roughly one third of all entrepreneurs experience depression and in the more extreme cases, suicidal tendencies.

During the course of the interview Jay shared his belief that entrepreneurs (and I include financial traders in this group) don’t become depressed when their business fails or they lose a lot of money in their trading.

Jay believes that such people are more often depressed (most often with bipolar depression), and deal with the depression end of that condition by fleeing into entrepreneurship or trading.

Upon reflection and thinking back to the many entrepreneurs and some financial traders I have seen in my career as a clinical psychiatrist, I tend to agree awith Jay.

It makes sense if you consider that a number of those people boast and wear as a badge of honor that they are un-hirable and couldn’t work for anyone else.

What they often don’t go into is how painful and at times disheartening it was to be un-hirable, told they would never amount to anything or chided for “always having to be different.”

That fits very well with many people who have bipolar issues. They will often add that they have difficulty focusing and resisting distraction, unless they’re hypomanic (mania without being psychotic), in which case they can become hyper-focused sometimes with a maniacal tenacity.

As if their ups and downs were not problem enough, another area that suffers greatly is their relationships especially with spouses and children.

When they’re feeling up and are on a roll, they can’t stand being thwarted or having their momentum interrupted. So, no matter how concerned a spouse or friend is, these affected traders or entrepreneurs will not listen to reason or common sense. That is because they have often felt that conventional rules do not apply to them.

Alternatively, when they’re down, they’re often inconsolable or even reachable.

What to do?

If you can relate to the above or if you are the spouse or friend of someone that sounds like the above (in which case you might share this article with them), you might want to consult a psychiatrist (because they can prescribe medications) who works with entrepreneurs and financial traders.

Such psychiatrists will have a sensitivity to not wanting to kill off or neutralize your creativity or flatten your elevated and hypomanic states of mind that make you so productive.

A final caveat.

One of the most frequent misdiagnoses by even experienced psychiatrists is to treat a patient for depression, when in reality they have bipolar disorder. That can occur, because unless they’ve gone off the deep end, bipolar patients who come in for depression will not spontaneously talk about manic or hypomanic episodes.

That is why it is important for doctors/psychiatrist to ask such people about times in their lives when they have unlimited energy, require very little sleep, are spending a lot of money and/or can be so energized that other people may bring to their attention that they seem hyper.

When bipolar depression is misdiagnosed as major depression, they can be put on antidepressants such as Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, etc. The problem with that is antidepressants will often make someone who has bipolar depression agitated and feel like they’re coming out of their skin. And when that happens other medications are given to calm them down.

This is when you will often find people are on too many medications, when in reality what they need is to be taken off the antidepressants and placed on mood stabilizers such as lithium or Depakote, Lamictal, etc.

In conclusion, yes, there are financial traders and entrepreneurs who become depressed when they run into failure. However, you don’t want to miss the ones who have an underlying treatable mental condition that they’re avoiding and running away from by throwing themselves into financial trading or an entrepreneurial business.

P.S. Like Jay Reid, I am part of a mission to end or at least greatly decrease suicide. With that in mind I co-created and moderate an award winning documentary entitled: Stay Alive: An Intimate Conversation about Suicide Prevention. With that in mind, I’d appreciate it if you can spread the word about our documentary. Thanks.

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