BREAKING NEWS Finally Feeling Like Fall Full Story

Depression in the C-suite

The recent suicides of Anthony ...

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 1:48 PM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 1:48 PM

The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are a sad reminder that success is no guarantee of happiness.

Those at the top of their industries are no more protected than the rest of us from depressive symptoms or full-blown clinical depression.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs might even be more vulnerable because of the outsized stresses of their jobs and the traits that have brought them success in the first place.

The genesis of a depressive episode can be biological or external — for example, a personal loss, a health crisis, business troubles or legal woes. Or it could be spurred by a collision between personal values and company actions, like compromising safety for profit, said psychologist Peter Pearson.

What's more, the stresses executives face, combined with fears of not delivering, may be compounded by social media. Relative to the days when no one really knew who the CEO was, "social media has a way of amplifying expectations and pressuring people to perform for a broader audience," said psychotherapist and executive coach Steven Berglas.

Related: Being CEO can kill a marriage. Here's how to prevent that

Of course it's cliche to say it's lonely at the top, but it is. And many executives have a hard time confiding in others, said psychologist and executive coach Marilyn Puder-York. "A lot of CEOs are confident they can manage on their own and they slip into overdrive."

The last thing they want is to display any weakness or vulnerability to employees and investors.

Depression in the C-suite has gained attention in Silicon Valley lately, where ever-growing expectations and capital for promising startups can overwhelm anyone.

One study found nearly 50% of entrepreneurs reported having a mental health condition. A full 30% reported a lifetime history of depression.

Disengagement and inability to concentrate can be key signs of a depressive episode.

Venture capitalist Mahendra Ramsinghani says, "as investors our duties are to support the founders. ... I've seen founders who are struggling. You see that they are clearly not with it — they may appear stressed and are not taking care of themselves."

Ramsinghani has wanted to find ways to better support those struggling and is currently working on a book about depression among business leaders. He decided to write it after experiencing a dark period in his own life following two suicides by people he knew: Austen Heinz, in whose genomics company he had invested; and a friend and fellow investor who sent Ramsinghani a letter to read to the friend's elderly father in India after his son died.

His book will center in large part around the responses he gets to the anonymous online survey he's posted in which he asks founders and other organizational leaders to share their experiences with depression.

Ramsinghani hopes the book will start a dialogue about the issue.

Even though some executives have gone public with their struggles, many feel they'll be stigmatized if they admit to being depressed. "There's still a sense of shame because depression is perceived as weakness. It's more frequently denied than substance abuse," Berglas said.

What those in denial fail to acknowledge is that depression can be as much a disease as diabetes is, and may require help from drugs and psychotherapy. "You wouldn't eschew the use of insulin, so why eschew psychotherapy?" Berglas notes.

When a CEO or other executive starts to exhibit behavioral or performance problems, they might be assigned an executive coach. But both Berglas and Alyssa Freas, founder of the Executive Coaching Network, stress that if the problems are stemming from depression, no one can coach that out of you. And any ethical coach will recognize that and recommend instead that the executive seek outside help.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 45°
Columbus
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 46°
Oxford
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 41°
Starkville
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather