Perfectionism Leads To Depression, Study Finds


Perfectionism Leads To Depression, Study Finds

We know academic and co-curricular achievement in college demand effort and rigor.

But a new study has found that the pressures of young adulthood coupled with the demands of university leave undergraduates at risk for depressive symptoms. In fact, nearly 30 percent of undergraduates suffer from depressive symptoms, which is threefold higher than the general population. As such, researchers are increasingly interested in identifying factors that contribute to depressive symptoms to help curb the ever-increasing depression epidemic.

This is the finding of a study by Marianne Etherson, Ph.D., candidate and graduate teaching assistant at York St John University; and Martin Smith, lecturer in research methods at York St John University. The study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, focused on one such factor, perfectionism, and its depressing consequences, according to an article on

The authors say, "Perfectionism refers to a tendency to doggedly strive for perfection and hold quixotically high standards. However, perfectionism isn’t just about setting lofty goals and trying one’s best. On the contrary, perfectionism involves a tendency to feel that other people, such as parents and teachers, demand perfection."

Perfectionists tend to believe good enough is never enough.

"As such, the typical perfectionist is stuck in an endless loop of self-defeating and over-striving in which each new task is seen as an opportunity for failure, disappointment and harsh self-rebuke. So it is not surprising that ample evidence implicates perfectionism in depressive symptoms," say the researchers.