Is depression in gifted students suffocating creative genius?

Idealism and Depression in gifted students

depression in gifted studentsFunnyman Robin Williams brought laughter and joy to to audiences all over the world with his antics in roles such as Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

Behind all the joy he he spread to others was a secret that eventually took him from this world.

Depression took this creative genius from the world too early.

We do not know if Robin Williams was gifted in terms of IQ, but he certainly was a genius at his craft. Millions of people around the world laughed and cried with his characters.

Depression is no laughing matter. While there is no evidence that suicide rates are any higher in G/T students, depression in gifted students is a common occurrence. Research has shown that almost all gifted students will struggle with depression at some time during their school years. So what are the risk factors unique to G/T students and how can we best help them?

In this 1-hour course, “Idealism and Depression,” Lori Comallie-Caplan explores the unique reasons that G/T students will likely struggle with depression. You will learn to identify an existential crisis and discover five strategies for taming one. Then you will receive tips for turning existential depression into an opportunity for growth.

Ms. Comallie-Caplan is a New Mexico Licensed Master Social Worker, a Licensed Educational Diagnostician with a Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling. She is best known for her work with gifted individuals through the lifespan and frequently provides professional development for school districts and mental health professionals regarding the social emotional needs of the gifted.

Check out this course sample, or read more below:

Existential Depression and Dabrowski

depression in gifted studentsDon’t be fooled by the long name. Existential depression is not a foreign language.

It is actually quite common in G/T students and Ms. Comallie-Caplan explains clearly what it is and why we need to address it.

Existential depression is a type of asynchronicity, different from developmental asynchronicity. Its cause in relation to depression in gifted students is explained through Dabrowski’s Developmental Levels:

  1. The ego-centric level is where development begins. “The ends justifies the means” is the theme
  2. In stage 2, conforming to group norms begins, without internalization of rules or morals
  3. Ideals and morals begin to form. The individual begins to see the difference between “what is” and “what ought to be”
  4. Self-actualization and responsibility for others begin to shape personal values
  5. Harmony is achieved through empathy, autonomy, and authenticity

Existential depression in gifted students occurs when they are not supported for their gifts and strengths and become frustrated that the world is not as it should be.

Risk Factors for Depression in Gifted Students

At some point, students will enter an existential crisis if the gap between their ideals and experience in life becomes too wide. G/T students are particularly susceptible to this for the following reasons:

  • High standards and perfectionism
  • Feelings of alienation
  • Inconsistencies experienced in human nature
  • Lack of self-actualization

In each of these areas, you will learn strategies to help stop an existential crisis in its tracks and move your student toward a positive integration of his or her ideals. A few of the strategies discussed include:

  • Helping your student educate himself
  • Building a personal philosophy
  • Communing with nature and meditation
  • Exploring how others have addressed similar issues

The Good News is Very Good

depression in gifted studentsThe good news is that existential depression in gifted students is an opportunity for growth towards self-actualization. Idealism does not have to end in frustration and depression when students are given support and direction.

One important example discussed in the course is when students ask questions about suffering in the world.

When students are given direction and support, these questions can help them develop a personal philosophy and move toward constructive action. For example, students can find a creative way to bring food to those in need or provide for the homeless in their community.

You will learn simple yet effective strategies for helping gifted students with depression turn their challenges into growth. Strategies include:

  • Listening
  • Incorporating humor
  • Sharing in the cause to make a difference
  • Taking action

Depression in gifted students is no laughing matter. “Idealism and Depression” offers simple, effective things we can do to help them. We can make a difference!

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Delivering Quality Training – No Matter Where You Are

Mobile ready professional development for gifted teachersDid you know that this course is mobile ready? That means you can complete the course on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or any other mobile device!

Images courtesy of Flickr via US Department of Education, libertygrace0, APB Photography