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What Does Your Personality Type Say About Your Inclination for Depression?

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We’ve all taken silly quizzes on the internet. We can don the proverbial sorting hat to reveal which Hogwarts house we belong to in Harry Potter. We can learn which color matches our mood or heck, which donut we are.

Buzzfeed is notorious for these ridiculous quizzes:

“Order from Dairy Queen And We’ll Tell You Which Color You Should Wear Tomorrow.”

“Redo Your Wardrobe And We’ll Give You a Song to Listen to That You’ll Love.”

“Build Your Dream Sushi Roll and We’ll Tell You What Makes You Unique.”

Our personalities are not only what make us tick, they are indeed why we’re unique. Every individual on this earth is different from everyone else. No matter how vanilla you think you are, there are bits of your personality that make you one of a kind.

However, there are some trends and similarities in our personalities. I highly recommend checking out the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to find out more about your personality. It’s fascinating to read about your temperament and the test is pretty much 100% dead-on. It’s available to take online for a fee and is the gold standard personality test.

Sunday was World Introverts Day. I am a hardcore introvert.

As it turns out, introverts are more prone to depression, according to a 2007 paper by University of Northern Iowa graduate student Elizabeth A. Balder.

“Introverts are more likely to be compliant and have lower self-esteem than extroverts,” Balder’s paper says, “And [they] also have less social support than extroverts, which can be detrimental when experiencing depression.”

According to Myers-Briggs, I am an INFP or “thoughtful idealist,”  representing 6.4 percent of the population. The initials stand for “Introverted, Intuition, Feeling, Perception.”

INFPs tend to be creative, imaginative and compassionate (check), spontaneous and thoughtful (I’d like to think I’m thoughtful) and idealistic and experimental (I think my punk rock heart bleeds with these two characteristics).

Furthermore, there are a lot of famous people who are INFPs who I particularly identify with — Kurt CobainDavid Bowie and Heath Ledger, to name a few.

I’ve always been a bit of a wallflower. While I am usually shy upon first meeting someone, in the right company I am very outgoing, especially when connecting over my favorite topics: music, art, movies or television.

I have bipolar 1 disorder, diagnosed in 2008. While I almost never have manic episodes anymore, I do experience periods of depression. My introverted nature might be part of the reason why.

The evidence is further reflected in a 2006 study “Why Extraverts Are Happier Than Introverts” by Tanja Lischetzke and Michael Eid from the University of Geneva.

“Extraverts react more strongly to positive stimuli in their environment resulting in higher long-term pleasant effect,” the study says. “Compared to introverts, extraverts may be more motivated and better able to regulate [emotions], in particular, to savor and prolong their pleasant mood.”

One aspect of the study involved participants watching a movie. They responded to a survey establishing their current mood. Then they watched clips of the movie “Life Is Beautiful.”

“Life Is Beautiful” is a 1997 Academy Award Best Picture nominee — a paradoxical happy tragedy about World War II and the Nazi occupation of Italy. In Italian with subtitles, the film follows the lives of a Jewish man and his young son who are sent to a concentration camp. The father shields his son from the despair of the camp with humor and by pretending that life at the camp is a game.

The study’s authors considered “Life Is Beautiful” to be ambiguous mood-wise.

In fact, it is one of my favorite films and it occupies a rare space of beauty within catastrophe.

“We hypothesized that, in response to the film, extraverts, compared to introverts… would show a lesser decrease in pleasant [affects].”  And their hypothesis turned out to be correct. Lischetzke and Eid reported that the extraverts felt more “pleasant” and positive than the introverts.

I am a proud introvert and I believe it ties right in with my bipolar disorder. I have always said we who are bipolar are able to feel emotions more strongly than anyone else. And my personality type jibes perfectly with my mental health condition.

If you don’t want to spend money on the Myers-Briggs assessment another personality test you can try for free is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a different questionnaire based in psychology.  It uses the same nomenclature as Myers-Briggs but will only reveal a little bit about your personality without paying a fee.

Still, worth examining to get a taste of your personality without paying 50 bucks. Why don’t you give it a whirl and tell us how your test turned out?

Whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, please know that you are one of a kind. You are unique. And that’s something for all of us to celebrate.

Getty image by Natalypaint

Originally published: January 6, 2022
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