Another news article of an executive whose death was ruled a suicide. People who knew the deceased are in shock. “He always had a positive attitude and he had an infectious smile.” Little did anyone know was that behind the positive attitude and smile was his secret: He battled severe depression for several years. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014 and is the 10th leading case of death.* Among executives, suicide is the second leading cause of death. Depression is a topic that is rarely openly discussed among leaders; however, it is a real situation that must be addressed across the organization.
Issues that Plague ExecutivesThere is endless and often conflicting demands to ensure stakeholders (board, shareholders, customers, community, vendors, government and unions) are happy by consistently turning a profit, making sure employees needs and interests are met, ensuring government compliance, meeting customers expectations and maintaining good relationships with vendors, community, and unions/associations. Innovation in technology allowed for global expansion which requires 24/7 availability. Another pressure is the executive’s personal expectations to succeed and the possibility of having to address ethical dilemmas. The executive also has the challenge of taking care of family obligations despite a super heavy schedule and avoiding getting fired (The average tenure for a CEO is approximately 7-9 years). Everything that happens (good or bad) falls on the CEO. Many of my clients have described their loneliness and fear of trusting others. These and some of the other issues that can lead to crisis includes relationship conflicts, work-life balance, loss of confidence, conflicting actions vs. core values and the fear of being unfairly judged. When these situations are unresolved, these situations can lead to feelings of depression.
How Can I tell if I’m or Someone I know is Depressed?According to the National Institute of Health, symptoms vary among people, but can include:
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feeling very tired; fatigue
- Difficulty in concentrating, making decisions or remembering details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much,
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide and/or suicide attempts
- Persistent moodiness