Depression in gifted adults

Published Mar 12, 2023 • By Claudia Lima

Depression in gifted adults can have a significant impact on their daily life and well-being. Low self-esteem, chronic fatigue and difficulty concentrating can be some of the symptoms of this condition, which is not very easy to diagnose, and can be difficult to treat.

But what does it actually mean to be a gifted adult? What are some of the symptoms of depression that gifted people suffer from? How can it be treated? 

Read our article to find out more!

Depression in gifted adults

Depression is very common in the United States and its prevalence has been increasing, especially among young people. It is estimated that nearly one in five adults have suffered or will suffer from depression in their lifetime. 

Depression has negative consequences on physical and mental health, as well as on social and professional functioning of those who suffer from it. The causes of depression are complex and can be linked to biological, psychological and social factors. 

Anyone can be affected by depression, regardless of their age, gender or social status. However, gifted adults may be more prone to depression as they are often faced with higher demands and expectations from their immediate entourage and from society in general. They may also often feel isolated and misunderstood.

What does it mean to be a gifted adult?  

A gifted person thinks, acts and feels "differently", they are more sensitive to their environment. This can go as far as hyperesthesia, which characterizes an increase in the sensitivity of any of the senses: sight, sound, touch, hearing and smell.

There are many preconceived ideas about gifted people. They are spoken of as sick, super-achievers, haughty, overly empathetic, etc. They are often compared to people with autism spectrum disorders. However, all of this is not true. 

Several signs can indicate that a person is gifted. Among them:

  • IQ equal to or higher than 130
  • Increased curiosity, need for meaning and understanding, cognitive hyperactivity, 
  • Quick information processing, extraordinary memory,
  • Arborescent, or tree-like thought structure, which allows them to understand complex intellectual elaborations, 
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Sense of aesthetics
  • Great intellectual freedom,
  • The feeling of being out of step with other people, a neuro-atypical functioning,
  • Increased sensitivity to the world around them and to other people, high level of empathy
  • Lack of self-esteem.

Gifted people represent 2% of the general population.

What are the manifestations of depression in gifted adults?  

There are a few studies on the prevalence of depression among gifted adults. These show that almost half of gifted adults are at risk of anxiety and depression. Also, according to these studies, 20% of gifted adults suffer from some form of depression, and are more likely to experience bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety and social phobias.

Some risk factors are responsible for the onset of these depressive disorders such as low self-esteem, value conflict, lack of social support, chronic stress, feelings of isolation, excessive work, low performance satisfaction, past traumatic experiences, relationship problems and also lack of recreational activities

Depression in gifted adults usually manifests itself with symptoms similar to those of depression in other patients. 

These may include:

  • Sadness, bad mood, 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities,
  • Loss of appetite, 
  • Persistent fatigue, 
  • Feeling of guilt, 
  • Sleep disturbances, 
  • Difficulty concentrating, 
  • Negative, sometimes self-destructive thoughts.

How to treat depression in gifted adults? 

There are several treatment options for depression in gifted adults, just as for any other patient. 

One of the options is psychotherapy, for example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This can be helpful in learning to manage the symptoms of depression and better understand its causes

Another option is drug therapy (antidepressants), which should always be prescribed by a healthcare professional. 

Finally, learning to manage stress and adopting a healthy lifestyle can also help prevent and treat depression.

Here are some of other solutions that can be useful in treating depression:


Exercise is a great way to distract yourself and feel better. Sport allows the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in mood regulation and motivation. Exercise can also help reduce depressive symptoms by releasing endorphins, which are hormones that produce a feeling of well-being and relaxation.

Relax, take care of yourself 

It is recommended to regularly find time to do relaxing activities and things that make you feel good, in order to fight off the depression. Taking care of yourself also means adopting healthy lifestyle, such as eating well and sleeping well, among others.

Open up about your feelings

Expressing one's emotions can help release negative feelings that are often the cause of depression. It also helps to reduce stress and tension, and to gain more understanding from family and friends, and therefore find solutions to many problems.

Look for support

Support from loved ones or from a professional can help find strategies to deal with the stress and life challenges and to find ways to reconnect with others and feel less isolated.


Relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help manage the symptoms of depression. Such activities allow you to relax and calm your spirit. Meditation can also reduce the level of rumination and increase the person's ability to concentrate, as well as improve mood and increase the ability to enjoy the present moment.

Depression in gifted adults is a real and common problem. It can have a significant impact on physical and mental health and quality of life of those affected. As already mentioned above, gifted adults may be more vulnerable to depression because of the pressure and high expectations placed on them by society. Nevertheless, there are many resources and treatments available to help them.

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Share your thoughts and questions with the community in the comments below! 
Take care!


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