Depression has different etiological factors and characteristics. There are many common reoccurring themes of depression. Depression that results due to extreme self-criticism and self demanding perfectionism is also described as introjective depression. The following will portray the tendencies and implications of being depressed due to self-criticism.
The main issues of the introjective depression are self-worth, autonomy and self-definition. The depressed is preoccupied with and consumed by an inner need to demonstrate intelligence, ability, independence, strength and excellence to others, which enable him or her to conceal actual feelings of inferiority (Blatt, 2004). The self-critically depressed commonly have great need in recognition and acceptance. The need of achievement, high efficiency and perfectionism originates from an intense and strong need of social approval, respect and the need to gain love from the surroundings. The individual may appear to the naked eye as successful, talented and ambitious but the lack of ability to enjoy and savor one’s own accomplishments leaves one feeling empty and a failure. In attempt to establish a good sense of self, one tries to excel in everything that one does. Inability to live up to the internalized standards, the repeated experiencing of failure and feelings of inadequacy may increase the severity of depression.
Introjective depression is characterized by feelings of guilt, hopelessness, inadequacy, inferiority, unworthiness and frustration from the inability to living up to the impossibly high expectations (Burke & Haslam, 2001). The strong motivation to succeed also increases susceptibility to the experience of failure, criticism and self-scrutiny. The self of the introjective depressed is shaped by the perceptions of their own shortcoming. The depressed report low self-esteem and are very vulnerable to criticism. Self-critics tend to assume responsibility and condemn themselves when things go wrong. They also perceive themselves to be incompetent and inadequate (Zuroff & Mongrain, 1987) which only intensify and multiplies depressive emotions and thoughts.
Self-critics are also very distrusting of others. They act formally and cautiously with others in order to avoid additional criticism and ridicule as a result of the self-disclosure (Blatt, 2004). Due to the extreme self-criticism they are very careful not to expose their negative self to others. The perception that others do not approve of the individual will increase vulnerability to depression. Furthermore, the self-critically depressed tend to avoid asking for support and help in times of need. Lack of social support increases their vulnerability and maintains the depressive symptoms. The self-critical style of depression leads to negative interpersonal relationships and distance, which elevates stress levels due to a lack of buffer and exposes them to additional rejections by the surroundings. Their tendency to self-blame and avoidant coping increases the levels of stress and distress felt, which in turn reduce adaptive abilities even more and intensify the depression felt.
Blatt, S. J. (2004). Experiences of depression: theoretical, clinical and research perspectives. Washington: American psychological press.
Burke, A. & Haslam, N. (2001). Relations between personality and depressive symptoms: a multimeasure study of dependency, autonomy, and related constructs. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 7, 953-961.
Zuroff, D. C., & Mongrain, M. (1987). Dependency and self-criticism: vulnerability factors for depressive affective states. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 1,14-22.