Hustling in Stressful Times Can Worsen Your Depression

May 20, 2020 Mahevash Shaikh

Capitalism and "hustle culture" (the culture where one feels the need to be working constantly) have turned us into a strange species. Even in the middle of a pandemic, we are putting immense pressure on ourselves, in spite of depression, to hustle and be productive. While I don't think hustling was ever a good idea, I believe it is far worse in today's stressful times. 

Hustling Can Worsen Depression

Here's why hustling can worsen depression:

  1. You are neglecting self-care. -- Everybody needs self-care, especially those who struggle with depression. In my experience, having depression makes self-care a lot harder than it already is. Overworking leaves such little time and energy for self-care that it's obvious that sooner or later, one who is doing it will end up feeling blue. Instead of resorting to such unhealthy coping mechanisms, the smart thing to do is to make time for rest and recreation. Work it into your daily to-do list if you must.  
  2. You are setting yourself up for failure. -- Even if you are able to pressurize yourself to be hustling in a time when it is perfectly alright to cut back on work, there will be days when you will fail to meet your work goals. Research has shown that negative experiences like failure to meet goals can cause anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure),1,2 which is a common symptom of depression. When you lose the motivation to pursue hobbies, passions, and ambition, know that anhedonia is responsible. To avoid feeling numb and lifeless, it's important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 
  3. You are letting stress wreak havoc on your body and mind. -- In my experience, overworking and hustling often cause stress, and stress has adverse mental and physical effects. Depression and body pain are two such effects, each of which increases the impact of the other. Thus, over a period of time, long hours can be seriously detrimental to your health. Since you may feel motivated to work on some days and unable to work on other days, try to work in accordance with your level of functioning. Doing so will help keep stress and its consequences at arm's length.

Tips to Stop Hustling and Help Depression

I hope I have convinced you to limit and monitor the number of hours you put in at work every day. While there are many logical reasons to work as much as possible, like keeping a job in this collapsing economy, employers and employees need to work in accordance with their mental capacity. In the long-term, taking care of one's mental health benefits individuals and companies. 

While some mental health issues are unavoidable at the moment, we must try to break free from the compulsion to hustle. 

Watch the video below for some of my personal tips on how I stay away from the pervasive and toxic hustle culture.

How is hustling affecting your depression? Let me know in the comments below.


  1.  Timothy S. and Kari E., "Treatment of Depression from a Self-Regulation Perspective: Basic Concepts and Applied Strategies in Self-System Therapy." Cognitive Therapy and Research, Feb. 2017.
  2. Tim N., "Understanding anhedonia: What happens in the brain?" Medical News Today, January 31, 2018.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2020, May 20). Hustling in Stressful Times Can Worsen Your Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

June, 1 2020 at 4:19 pm

If I had done what my body and mind were screaming at me to do I may not have burnt out and now be sitting with a blocked brain and major depression. Unfortunately my condition by then has stopped me being clear enough and they did not attempt to listen.

June, 3 2020 at 4:10 am

Hi Sheena,
Been there. You will get through this. Please reach out if you need any help. And please don't beat yourself up, we all make mistakes. Hustling is so normalized today too.

May, 22 2020 at 6:58 am

I shared this article with my team today. It's so important to cut back on work when you need it. 💓

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