The Downside of Ambition: Depression

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The reality of some of the ambitious is that you desire to achieve success though there is nothing you truly love that you want to be successful at. Anything you partake in is only a means to success and you cling to the idea that no matter what the product or the means, if the result brings triumph over those less willing to sacrifice their lives on a loveless goal, then you will be happy. The issue is that you find yourself being misunderstood, by both yourself and the people around you.

The “underachievers” have their fair share of happiness, but their envious eyes upon what you’ve achieved convinces you that you are merely unappreciative or ungrateful of what you’ve accomplished and that you should just continue building your tower upon your foundation of sadness because their happiness doesn’t satisfy them, so it won’t satisfy you either. So you continue to work. You work and you work until you achieve everything you’ve ever wanted and it brings you nothing other than the realization that you’ve done what you thought it takes to bring you happiness and you haven’t gained it. So what now? You’re left to resign to the idea that you’re depressed. But depression practically equates to weakness in your own eyes, and as far as the people around you either understand or are concerned, you have no reason to be depressed. You have everything.

But say you do become strong enough to confide your weakness, that is your unhappiness, in someone else. What do they tell you? To snap out of it, that you’re just sad, you have the blues, or you’ll get over it. It seems then that no one understands what you’re going through. Or worse, you begin to believe you aren’t truly going through anything. You’re merely self indulgent and you should be thankful for the many people that surround you with their judgmental eyes and unforgiving tones. So things get worse and you put on your brave face while you fall deeper into misery. And no matter how unhappy you become and or how much you hear about ways that you can get help, you don’t seek any, because you tell yourself nothing is wrong with you.

This isn’t how it has to be. The unfortunate truth is that though you aren’t alone in your depression, many people fall victim to this illness, many of the people in your life and the people you love, just won’t understand and it isn’t their fault. I bold the word illness because that is what depression is. It is a mental illness that consumes you, and though there is truly a difference between sadness and depression, people who haven’t experienced it just cannot see the difference, and that doesn’t mean there’s no way to fight it. There are ways to deal with depression and the truth is, it has to be dealt with. In the U.S, 60% of people who commit suicide had depression or another mood disorder and depression discriminates against no one. Some of the greatest minds have suffered from depression, so there’s no need to feel weak.

I believe that the first steps to dealing with something is understanding it, so beneath is a link to some information on Depression, and then a pretty in-depth online quiz you can take to begin walking down the path for help.

Information on Depression

This test is not to be taken as a medical diagnosis, but in the event it tells you that you do suffer from depression or one of its forms, you should talk to your doctor. Click here



  1. This article is spot on. People may not even be aware that not truly having a real love or desire for a particular career path can create deep depression. Very good analysis

  2. Thank You, but that’s actually not what I was trying to express. What I was trying to say is that many people suffer from depression long before beginning to go down any career path but they ignore it and continue trying to be successful. The ambition isn’t the cause of the depression, it just helps ambitious people realize it. The article was more so about dealing with the people around you that do not understand the seriousness of depression or that it is truly a mental illness.

    • I found this article to be very interesting! I have had some form of depression for about a year now, and I’ve just now started to look at (though “seasonal affective disorder” has plagued me for many years). I’ve taken up writing because I don’t really have anyone to talk to about it. My most recent post about my depression is if you are interested. I’ve been quite ambitious in my life, but I keep running into failure, which really hits me hard. It’s reassuring to hear that other people go through similar issues as me.

  3. You have done an incredible job.

  4. Thank-you for your post. i believe a source of depression is unfulfilled ambition/desire. i believe the trick is to look at the quality of the ambition/desire. was it to help others for example, was it to appease others or get approval. i believe this is the bit that is causing the depression, the fact you have not achieved the underlying goal, whatever it was. search for this and find the source.

    thanks again

  5. For over 2 years i’ve been experiencing this depression that i sometimes thought was just a mood swing, but deep down i know something is missing. I know for a fact that im not like 98% of average people, that i had always been an extremely ambitious person since i can remember as a kid, in sports or physical stuff in particular. When i told people how i felt, they couldnt understand or relate, they think im just over thinking or just have nothing to do. But i realised most of people are able to live life more easily than i do, n most probably because they are not ambitious in the first place. Im extremely ambitious by nature, if i want to do something its either 100% or 0. I dont think many people can understand that easily. I apologize for coming off too honestly but this article is spot on. It really is. The best one i had ever read. Hopefully i can work tru this and any one else feeling the same way. All the best

  6. Old thread I know, and I feel this article is spot on as well.
    I think depression is an interesting characteristic of ones personality. I know it is an illness clinically, I just don’t see it that way personally.
    I’ve been dragging around an immolative ball and chain that sucks the life out of me my entire life from adolescence. Diagnosis MDD with antisocial thought patterns. I am in business in the higher rungs, despite no education, etc.
    My condition has helped spawn great interest and thought into the “why” of different things and has brought me some measure of success, it only hampers execution. I have self medicated to supplement my bad habits with success but now with help from doctors.
    If you live outside what others have told you to believe, and look up to the sky despite what your inner self convinces you of, you will accomplish your purpose. Be prepared for rejection, losing it all, becoming an island emotionally and lacking purposeful relationships. But this will be mostly because you know better, have experienced joy from success not many have, and found even for a moment that which everyone seeks. The road to permanence is so terrible the average person fabricates a reality that is simpler and much more mundane as the tradeoff.

    To the young person who can see a better world from an unbelievably young age, is forced into the world and to comply…DO NOT. You are being led by the blind, the homogenized, the dead or those who worship it. If you rebel and hold out for something greater, don’t lose focus for long. If you need to use drugs or alcohol to cope, make sure to understand well how these tools can help you and hurt you, and spin it for your own gain. Its a hard road, don’t expect anyone to understand, travel it alone…eventually you will meet those like you faster than you may think, and it will astonish you how many of the folks who tried to mislead you will be subordinate and reliant on your existence.

    Haven’t the courage? Be patient, it will come, you will figure it out with experience. There are plenty of folks out there, like yourself, who will notice you right away and lend a hand.
    Seek out failure, and you just may stumble upon success.

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