Do people who are depressed tend to be more selfish?

Some really great answers here!

Negativity, anxiety, depression as rage-turned-inwards could indeed foster a selfish or perhaps better to use less stigmatic terms, self-absorbed or self-indulgent, state of mind. It is said in psychology that people who suffer from depression are more realistic. Thus, it is necessary for a 'healthy' mind to have a certain positive delusion that everything will work out and be alright. So, it is the healthy happy mind (that hasn't experienced too much suffering) that is flawed in terms of achieving a closeness to realism, truth, and so on.

If you're feeling down and have a monster on your back or that you don't want to drain and burden yourself on others, quite selfless but self-defeating too...which then cycles round to having selfish-looking negative impact (withdrawal, self-absorbtion). Conclude you can only rely on your self. You shut yourself away and wallow in your special brand of misery. Because others think you can deal with it, be free of it, but it's part of you and your identity. You over-analyse, keep indulging in why things are so wrong. It's frustrating to positive people because they are capable of cutting that bit out of their brain, ignoring the intensity of the possibility and emotions of the worst happening. "I don't trust anyone anymore.." might be a statement one would make. Followed by the recourse "..but I have faith in myself" empowering but also still inwardly turning. It's somewhat like fighting fire with fire or fighting depression with depression (because it's inward). If you're negative about the negative does that make it better? I always thought so.

Depression has been an invisible illness. Sufferers require validation of their illness by doctors because it helps get treatment but also secures a legitimated identity that is free from the stigma of it not being a real illness. They've had to fight the happy people for recognition and empathy in society.

I read somewhere once of suicide being the most sincere form of self-criticism. This is the desperate final act of a depressed person. However happy people think it utterly selfish. Yet many reasons go along the lines of ridding others of your worthless self. Again, seemingly selfless but also self-defeating, and still incurring a selfish-looking negative impact on all (the trauma of bereavement).

The need to analyse possibly opens the depressed person up to a realism. Like a pimple bursting through the skin, raw and angry. The rotations and spirals of our fluorescing brains can quickly exponentialise each other lending much more weight on just one single thought that can drag you down into a black day. So an ordinary thought of a happy person doesn't tend to have this dragnet pulling them down. One single thought can have whole concatenation of stories about why this or that is a problem for the sufferer. "oh I couldn't pick my van up because my dog was sick and then I had a fight with Tom and forgot I needed to pick up Rosies prescription, and now I don't have time to do the boards tonight". Offering a solution may not be wanted because the depressive person knows the problem better than you do. In my experience they always have an answer. Quite alot of the time depression is a luxury, or a result of luxury, I myself do believe.

I hope no-one is offended about the content in this possibly controversial post.


I can't speak for all people who've suffered or currently suffer from depression.

It can appear selfish from the outside. When someone with a chronic mental illness attempts to function in the "real world" with family and friends, they can be met with comments that perpetuate stigmas or make it difficult to share about one's emotional well-being, especially if it's negative or draining. Not everyone has the energy or patience to sit with intense emotions all the time. Self care is important, and over the years, a person with depression or severe anxiety, or (insert mental illness here) learns that they are not allowed to share about their struggles in life. It is very draining on others.

They may also learn over time that people have limits on how much emotional pain they are allowed to show others. Since this person is still suffering and sometimes don't want to be a burden to others, they can withdraw or disappear for a while. Perhaps these people will seek support online, or other indirect methods where they won't be a burden on close family or friends.

Sometimes talking about the pain is a cry for help. It can look like attention-seeking. It can be a way to ask for support, which can be taken as selfishness. Behaviors can increase based on their consequences, so those who act a certain way, asking for help, may increase this behavior because a need is being met, or because they still have a need that is not being met.

Many times, conversing with people online, and referencing personal experiences with people I've met over the years, it's the former where one's self worth is poor so they withdraw. Many don't think they are worthy of being helped, and don't want to burden family or friends with their negativity, so they withdraw. They want to protect others from their pain. One result of this, is it can be a cycle that feeds itself. It's difficult to change, and can be self defeating.


They do come off as selfish. Think of a person who is injured. That person will be dealing with his own pain and would require a great effort to be empathetic. A depressed person often has no energy left to understand others.

They most of the times spend a lot of time thinking negatively and suffer from pain, which in turn makes the feel bad because they think they are feeling bad for an invalid reason. This vicious cycle gets them tired and they resort to being numb to deal with the situation. And being numb would at many times come off as selfish


Honestly, I've been depressed to the point where I was selfish if we were to think about it like that. There were many times where I'd forget who I was talking to, and where I just vented forgetting the fact that "Hey, they may be suffering just like me". For me, I think I did that because I've wanted to find someone to listen to me for so long that when I finally found someone to listen I just broke down and said it all. They become a part of my daily life, where if I don't talk to them then I wouldn't necessarily know what to do with my life. At the same time, you're thinking...wouldn't it be best if I stopped being a burden and died? However, you know that that will affect them and it's like...wouldn't it be more selfish to die and leave them wondering what happened, rather than talk to them and stay on earth?...It's tough being depressed because there are people who do end up killing themselves and if you're their friend then you end up wondering what you did wrong.

I remember when my friend died...I also remember the last thing I told him, and it was nothing about "I'll be there for you when you need me", or "Here's the national hotline number, please call them while I keep texting you"...no, it wasn't anything about him and everything to do about me, the last thing I told my friend was the fact that I was having a bad day and wasn't feeling up to talking because someone I knew was in the hospital. He left me hints letting me know that he wasn't going to be there anymore, but I was so worried about me that I forgot about him and everything I learned about how to help someone suffering from depression. To this day, I blame myself for it. I long for those last moments to change just so that I can tell him that I know how it feels wanting to die, but that he's been the reason that I'm here. Everyone who I talk to, everyone who stood by my side, those are the people that are a part of the reason to why I'm still on earth. So, do people who are depressed tend to be more selfish? For me, I was and until I get help I don't think I can change without others being there to help. (Mind you, I have tried to get help...I have stayed at a hospital, I've been hospitalized, I tried meditating and I've tried medicine but nothing helped me besides talking to others.)

Thanks for the A2A

Keep in mind that it's different for everyone, some tend to isolate while others tend to socialize.

If you found this offensive in any way, please let me know and I'll change/take it down. Thank you.


I know this is going to be difficult to agree with, especially if you are on the receiving end of the selfishness.

But, try and think of depression as something that resides outside of rational thought. When we think of someone being selfish we think of them consciously looking after number one, regardless of the cost to other people.

Depression doesn't work like that.

The person is inwardly focused and is hurting badly, they are trying to cope with a lot of contradictory emotions in the only way they know how. This can certainly appear selfish and self centered, but here's the thing.

They literally can't help themselves. It is not a deliberate act, it's a response to their inner turmoil.

Like I said, I understand this can be difficult to cope with if you are constantly on the receiving end, but maybe this will give you a tiny glimpse into what is actually going on, and not what ‘appears' to be going on.


I've never told anyone that I've been feeling depressed for most of my life. The only time when I kind of intentionally gave it away was when I was arguing with my father, or more exactly, he was arguing with me. The usual stuff: "you're lazy, you're not trying, what's wrong with you", etc.. I didn't want to complain, I was just very irritated and decided to give an answer that would make him leave me alone. I didn't want his sympathy or anything. I knew this would fire back but I went for it anyway. I said, "... because I don't see any joy in life, I don't care, nothing matters for me." I felt guilty saying this because I didn't want him to grieve for me and feel sorrow because of how I am (he was concerned enough already). As I said it, he paused for one second and completely instinctively, literally said: "How am I supposed to be happy after this?"

I still felt guilty but what I learned was, you don't have to be depressed to be selfish.


No.  It has nothing to do with being selfish.

But yes, they tend to be more self-focused.  This is because they have a raging torrent of emotional things going on inside that they are constantly aware of and have to expend constant effort to manage.  The inward of awareness of a depressed person is very strong and can have a tendency to drown out what is going on outside.

Depressed people can be very nice, sensitive, and considerate people.  Depression can actually make someone who is already of the bent to be empathic feel more so as they feel the internal emotions stirred by others' situations that much more strongly.

But for that reason, they also have to close down sometimes to external emotions, because its just too much to deal with.
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