Our Connection of Depression and Perfection Obsession

Perfectionism is explained by Anxiety and Depression Association of America with the view that approximately 17 million Americans serious episode of depressive order in the year 2015. A prominent cause of aliment in the US in people between the ages of 16 to 451 is depression.  Multiple reasons can be the cause of depression; one characteristic has become increasingly attached to depression, which is not what you’d expect.

New research indicates Marking connections are found between the rise of perfectionism in our society and the rise of psychological issues,  mainly anxiety and depression. Psychological Bulletin Of American Psychological Association indicates that the Problem of perfection is increasing in younger people.  Between 1988 and 2017, a Rapid increase in the trend of perfectionism was seen in the US , Paralleled with increasing in it anxiety and depression.2 A person with a depressive disorder often feels like they are being held back by something that is not perfect or that something is not quite right in their life. This can cause a person to lose self-confidence and become depressed.


What Exactly Is Perfectionism?

Perfection is defined broadly in the study as “overly increased personal standard combined with overcritical self evaluations.”2  This broad definition has 3 subtypes which are distinguished: 

  • Self oriented perfectionism is when people have idealistic expectations, hopes and harsh self evaluations because they attach this irrational importance to perfection. 
  • Socially prescribed perfectionism –  Form of disorder is regarded as coming from others. People perceive their surrounding as being too demanding, they are being strictly judged by others around them, and they feel they should appear to be perfect for gaining approval from others. 
  • Other oriented perfectionism is a type of disorder oriented toward others when one sets idealistic standards and critically judges the people around.2

Perfection has a detrimental impact on our physical and mental health. In the modern study, authors explain that out of the three forms, socially prescribed perfectionism is the most debilitating. Studies show that perfectionism and depression are particularly detrimental to college students. 

In socially prescribed perfectionism, people think they are judged harshly, and they have to show perfection to obtain approval. This type of disorder can lead to suicidal thoughts in society and depression. Half of the people committing suicide are described as a perfectionist by their relatives and friends. Modern study has found that more than seventy per cent of young patients who have committed suicide had the habit of having high standards of behavior for themselves. It has been reported that perfectionism afflicts college students especially.  According to a recent study, approximately 35% of undergraduate students, who practice perfection, experience symptoms of anxiety which is widely attributed to the symptoms of depression. Perfectionism has also been linked to an increased probability of bipolar disorder. According to some research, it can reveal how patients with bipolar disorder go through anxiety.

Perfectionism has a far more adverse effect on the health of the patient along with mental well-being. According to some studies, perfectionists have higher blood pressure, and some researchers have also related cardiovascular disease characteristics.

Perfectionist find trouble in all the life matters; and it is found perfectionist have traits of early death. Incidence of chronic diseases like diabetes and Crohn’s disease is more in perfectionists. More heart attacks are seen in a perfectionist.  They get harder times in life.


Why Perfectionism Is on The Rise? 

A study was published focusing on the younger population and increasing perfectionism in this age group. It illustrates a broader cultural shift that affects society. The study posits that it rises because of three reasons: 

  • Neoliberalism – Researchers argue that the revival of this shape of liberalism has led to an increasing perfectionist culture. Neoliberalism supports capitalism, perfectionism and free-market principles. The recent emphasis on competitive individualism leads to a self-centred culture that gives value to individual achievement over the community. People are increasingly preoccupied with social status achievement and competition, especially when it comes to wealthy possessions.
  • Meritocracy – has its close cousin, neoliberalism, meritocracy has gained popularity. This is a propagation that ideal life is summarized by the wealth, achievements and social status that can be attained by any individual as long as he is trying very hard enough to meet the hopes of the society. Essentially you are responsible for your success in the eyes of the world, and your reward is you get praise from the community for your perfectionism. This is like treating people as commodities— they are given importance weighing on their scale of our valued contribution in society. A shift is caused in educational values; pressure is increasing on the students to go through tough competition with their fellows, get progressive and Elite private colleges, and get post-graduation certificates to earn some money.  The benchmark has been unduly increased. And the vast majority of students try to summit it alone.
  • Parental perfectionism – The belief that each individual must reach unachievable grounds is equally tough for parents. They feel challenged for the success and failure of their children, and they also feel the need to perfect themselves. This phenomenon is named: child-contingent self-praise. According to psychologists, parental hopes are rising to alarmingly high levels – parents spend time on schoolwork but not on leisure activities and entertainment with children. They are becoming increasingly anxious and try to control everything at the same time. These parental tendencies are passed from one generation to another. Perfectionist parents will bring upset children who are more perfectionist and are afraid of failing all the time.2

In an article written in Yahoo by psychologist,  Babara Grenberg, online social media is an additional ruthless factor towards perfectionism. Constant streaming of their lives by the people on social media.3 As teachers and parents don’t have enough pressure to hold their kids to a high standard already, the internet makes it appear as if everybody is watching, waiting for them to fail but pleading with them to succeed. 

Compassion is a powerful tool for people in perfectionist disorders. A fresh study by the Australian University of Sydney has correlated the practice of compassion with depression. Self-compassion is a protective factor against perfectionist disorders. It can help people fight depression and become strong to face the challenges of society. Self-kindness is the approach to be adopted and is encouraged to share the love. Kindness can gradually reduce the link between perfectionism and depression in both adult and young age groups.

Self-compassion is thought to be an innate gift or you are devoid of it and must be practiced for self betterment. But Professor Hewiett believes that especial types of psychotherapy can reduce their rough self-beliefs gradually over time. Psychologists have made a case for teaching self-kindness. Our Spotlight offers several techniques that have been proven to enhance self-kindness.

Perfectionism Related to Depression

Perfectionism is increasing in our society, But and its rate of increase correlates with depression. It seems that they are two faces of the same coin.  American psychological Association shared the study, perfectionism has a positive correlation with other psychological disorders related to anxiety and depression. Perfectionist is in need of approval from the others,  but at the same time behave cut from the society, which makes them vulnerable to psychological trauma.2

Paul Hewitt, PhD, wrote an article on the website of the American Psychological Association, which describes perfectionism as a symptom of social pressure that causes people to feel hopeless and despair. Further, he states that it exacerbates mental illness problems by causing stress with hopelessness. People struggle to feel better in their efforts towards perfectionism as it is expected not to let you think better. Perfectionism has its high demands from its practitioners that can negatively affect intimate relationships leading to isolation. Both of these are contributing factors to clinical depression.4

Having researched perfectionism for over 21 years and working with perfectionists psychologist, Dr Hewitt likes working for patients to understand and address the desires behind disorder: the need to be cared for and accepted.4 Interpersonal needs are the precursor to perfectionist behaviour.4 A bitter truth in this study reveals our culture is one of the perfectionists. But it’s up to us to divide this tide; accept others and ourselves with our flaws. Indeed, our mental health and emotional well-being depend on it.

Many people can relate to perfectionism and depressive disorder, especially those who are highly competitive. When something doesn’t go their way, they have little motivation to try again, and so they become perfectionists. This can lead to various problems, as they become depressed when things don’t go their way but don’t have any idea why. It may seem as though they have lost touch with reality and are stuck in a never-ending loop of failure. It can eventually spiral out of control, perfectionism resulting in depression.


1 “Facts and Statistics.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Accessed January 30, 2018.

1 Curran, Thomas and Andrew P. Hill, Perfctionism

Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016? Psychological Bulletin, December 28, 2017.

1 Parker, Maggie. “The ‘irrational desire’ driving millennials and Gen Z into Depression.” Yahoo! News, January 3, 2018.

1 Benson, Etienne. “The many faces of perfctionism.” American

Psychological Association, November 2003.