Existential Depression: What Is It and How To Cope

Existential depression is a lesser-known type of depression which may develop into clinical depression. Get more details inside.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jul 20, 2022Updated at: Jul 20, 2022
Existential Depression: What Is It and How To Cope

Depression can show up in many forms, and one of them is existential depression. This is observed in people who have a constant feeling of despair and hopelessness. People who are not able to find meaning in their life, who keep overthinking about unanswered questions, who feel lonely and isolated are most affected. Existential depression is not a formally recognized diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Instead, a psychiatrist may diagnose a person experiencing these symptoms with major depressive disorder (MDD).

According to Ms. Divya Mohindroo, Counselling Psychologist, Embrace imperfections, this kind of depression is because of disintegration of the self. This generally happens after:

  • loss of self and loss of life goals
  • breakdown of relationship
  • loss of connection with close ones
  • fixation on past mistakes
  • feeling guilt of previous activities or decision

Existential depression is mostly seen in gifted individuals, who require more intellectual stimulation, and have a higher academic performance than their peers. Existential depression is different from existential dread, which is more common in people. In existential depression, the person is in cycles of constant unknowable questions,which leads to loss of motivation and thoughts of suicide and death.

How to cope with existential depression?

As a psychologist, Divya Mohindroo suggests some coping strategies for the person to break the cycle of this dread and depression.

Also Read: 6 Ways To Deal With Postpartum Depression

existential depression


Mindfulness is important to break this pattern. Creating intentional meaning in life is a must. Smaller decisions should be focused on. Taking care of close ones and situations will definitely help as well.

The person should be encouraged to use their uncertainty to grow as the theory of positive integration suggests approaching difficult questions in life can create a more authentic, fuller human experience.(click here to know benefits of mindfulness)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

When such feelings occur the person should be encouraged to seek professional help. However the right therapy could be to seek  cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help the person to process their thoughts and experiences in a more structured manner.

Although it is a common human behaviour to have self-doubt and insecurity about oneself, a person should identify if these questions are reoccurring to you almost intrusively.

Also Read: 5 Non-Medical Ways To Overcome Depression

existential depression

  • 1)What is the meaning of life?
  • 2)Why is there suffering?
  • 3)Why do people have to die?
  • 4)Can I make an impact in the world? 
  • 5)Why do bad people go unpunished?
  • 6)Why do good people experience pain? 

At some point in life we all think about these things, but if it causes depression and interferes in our daily functioning we must seek help. It is okay to feel low but that should not become a frequent thing. This might make you slip into existential depression. So take utmost care of your mental health and seek help wherever needed either from your loved ones or a professional therapist.

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