The Myers-Briggs types INFJ and INFP are affected by depression more than most other types. Both are Introverted (I), intuitive (N), and feeling (F). This means that they have a compassionate nature, see the underlying meaning of events around them and have trouble shielding themselves from the pain of others, particularly in the face of indifference of others. They puzzle about why they are so powerless to change things. They realize that they were meant for greater things. Feeling that they have little impact on the world or situations around them can trigger depression.
Both types tend to be misunderstood, partly because they are so rare—together comprising less than 3 percent of the overall population.
Depression in INFJs
INFJs can assuage their guilt with the knowledge that they are doing the best they can, realizing that most of us have less power in the world than we think. It’s acceptable and necessary for them to take time for themselves to replenish their energy. Instead of chastising themselves for their impotence, they should realize that even a small difference means a lot. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
Reasons for Depression
- INFJs experience loneliness much of time. It’s hard for most people to read the feelings of INFJs because they are highly sensitive, quiet, and self-contained. For this reason, few people really understand them.
- Even when questioned about their feelings, they keep most issues to themselves. They feel sure that others won’t understand their pain or their subtle feelings.
- The relationships of INFJs tend to be one-sided. INFJs care for people and their problems, and people tend to abuse this fact. They take advantage of the kindness of INFJs. The INFJ gets nothing but the satisfaction of helping another. It can be a lonely situation.
- People close to INFJs can fail to give supportive feedback because they get confused by the INFJ’s conflicting tendencies. On the one hand, this Myers-Briggs type gets satisfaction from being around them. On the other, sometimes INFJs tire of meeting the emotional needs of others and want only to be alone. This causes confusion among people close to the INFJ. It often confuses INFJs themselves, leading to feelings of depression.
- The idealism of INFJs can lead them down dark paths. They have a tendency to place high expectations on others just as they do on themselves. The real world can be corrupt in many ways, a fact that many INFJs overlook until it’s too late. The high moral standards of INFJs may put them at odds with others, leaving a breach in understanding.
To combat depression, INFJs must learn to take care of themselves better—to indulge themselves with things they find enjoyable in life. They should remember that no one is perfect, and everyone deserves some time off.
Depression in INFPs
INFPs, much like INFJs, are prone to depression because of their naturally sensitive nature. This quality makes them wonderful people but causes them to experience things on a deep level. Sometimes their depression is caused by the feeling that others don’t understand them. It’s true that INFPs are very different from the norm and don’t fit into shallow stereotypes. Their feelings of apartness can make them feel alienated and misunderstood as they search for someone who will empathize with them and help them heal themselves.
Reasons for Depression
- INFPs are idealists, holding unrealistic expectations of others. This is especially true of their love relationships. No human could live up to the expectations they’ve erected in their own minds. When a relationship falls apart, they are devastated, triggering a cascade of other emotional problems.
- Their naiveté makes them an easy target for toxic individuals. Because their own intentions and morals are above reproach, they think that’s true of all other people. Even when the actions of others show hostile intent, INFPs tend to discount their suspicions because it’s so far from anything they would do. They can’t imagine that anyone would hurt them intentionally. It takes many years of living to discover the bitter truth—that many unfriendly acts are done on purpose.
- Their highly developed empathy makes them emotional sponges. They pick up easily the energy of others, making themselves susceptible to the moods of those around them. They’re infected by friends’ tribulations. For this reason, they find it hard to say “no,” and people often take advantage of them.
- INFPs think too much. Because they stay isolated in their internal world much of the time, they overthink everything that happens to them. When they don’t come up with satisfying answers, they go back to the drawing board and think some more.
- In some ways, INFPs are a study in conflict. They’re perfectionists about some things and disorganized about others. Administrative tasks are too boring to keep them engaged, and so their records become chaotic—causing problems later. There are many more interesting things to do than paperwork. With so many items on their agendas and so little time, they’re reluctant to focus on menial tasks.
Being sensitive, they get upset easily. In stressful situations, they tend to avoid the sources until the problem gets too big to manage. Procrastination adds to their stress and damages their self-esteem. When criticized for this or any other deficiency, they put the most negative spin on others’ evaluations and take them personally. It’s difficult to give INFPs any feedback that they construe as totally positive.
INFPs need close friends who are both supportive and nonjudgmental—people who can coax them out of their dark moods and enjoy the sunny side of life again.
Similarities Between INFJs and INFPs
Whether INFJs and INFPs get overwhelmed by personal conflicts or global injustices, they switch to hermit mode. They want to make a change, but the prospect seems hopeless. Therefore, their backup strategy is isolation. And this eventually leads to depression. Both types need to feel supported and appreciated when they are depressed. Just knowing that the people around them value them and do not judge them can be of immense help.