Do psychopaths get depressed?

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In this article, it will be discussed if psychopaths can develop depression. To do that, the article will explain what does it mean to be a psychopath, how they see and feel the world.

The article will also explain why depression is, and discuss if it’s possible for psychopaths to experience it, and if it is, how it happens and how they cope with it.

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What does being a psychopath mean?

Being a psychopath means a person usually doesn’t have emotions and doesn’t abide by social laws. Although it is not a condition defined in the DSM-5, it can be observed in some personality disorders, the most common being Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

Psychopaths can be different from the other, there are ones that are highly functioning, that can even go on to become leaders and others, and others might be rule breakers. 

People can have psychopath traits and it is believed that a large part of society has them, but not necessarily all of them are psychopaths. The main traits of a psychopath person are:

Lack of empathy

They can’t understand how other people feel, it doesn’t make sense to them since they are not able to read people.

Lack of guilt

As they are unable to understand emotion, it is impossible for them to feel guilty about their actions.

Lack of remorse

Psychopaths don’t care how their behaviors impact other people. They might think people are overreacting and end up blaming the other person.

Callous traits

They deal with emotions differently. They might not feel it as other people would, but they might make use of demonstrating those emotions to achieve what they want. They can show sadness to guilt, someone, for doing what they want, for example.

Impulsive behavior

Psychopaths have impulsive behavior that can show in the form of promiscuous sex behavior, difficulty in following rules. They tend to do things as they feel, they won’t consider rules or risks.

Narcissism

They tend to have a high sense of self-worth and think people should treat them as special. That may make it hard for them to achieve their goals since they establish unrealistic ones, based on what they think their abilities are.

Seductive behavior

They tend to be good in conversation,  they are likable people on the surface, that usually tell stories that make them look good.

Antisocial behavior

They might be antisocial, isolating from people that figure them out or keep in touch with people that are satisfying their needs.

A constant need for stimulation

They are people that are always in need of newness. This could imply breaking the rules just to feel the joy of getting away with things. They tend to have a difficult time keeping to a routine and keep on doing repetitive tasks.

Pathological liar

They might lie to make themselves look good or to get themselves out of trouble. They might also lie to keep up with a story they told before. 

Great sense of self-worth

They tend to have a great sense of entitlement that allows them to live as they understand they should not by society’s rule.

Manipulative behavior

They usually can play on other people’s guilt and insecurities as a way to get them to do what they want.

What causes people to be psychopaths?

It is still in the debate what causes people to become psychopaths. Research has said it might be related to having gone through attachment problems with parents when they were kids, maybe parent rejection or emotional deprivation. In other research, it is said that those kids might have experienced those issues because of their behavior. 

But it might be, like any other mental condition, they can come from many factors, like genetics, neurological factors, and environment.

Coping and treating psychopaths

It might be hard for people who are psychopaths to look for treatment or want to get better since they think the problems usually lie with other people. But as research has shown, behavioral therapy can be a good way to treat those patients.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness that causes the person to feel intense sadness, lack of concentration, hopelessness, lack of purpose, and a great feeling of emptiness. Aside from that, they have low self-esteem and a diminished sense of self-worth.

To say a person is depressed, they have to experience its symptoms intensely for two weeks. The main symptoms of depression are:

  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Intense crying or not being able to cry when the person wants to
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of pleasure in all activities
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

How can one cope with depression?

There are many ways to cope with depression. If the person shows signs of severe depression or suicidal thoughts, it might be time to look for a psychiatrist to start medication treatment.

But one can also treat depression through psychotherapy, which will give them a safe space, full of support to help them understand what might have been the cause of the depression and how to cope with the symptoms of it.

A person dealing with depression can also keep their loved ones close as a way of having a support network, try to do things in a paced manner, not demand too much of yourself, find activities that make you have good moments, it can be a workout, a small walk, watching a tv show or being close to people they love.

Can psychopaths get depressed?

Yes, it is possible for psychopaths to get depressed, although it is important to underline that they might not feel depression the same way other people would, especially when it comes to the belief that depression is, almost every time, related to the intense sense of sadness.

According to research, it might be necessary to create new ways of assessing the presence of depression in psychopath populations. That is because the ways we have now of evaluating if a person is depressed are usually one that brings up feelings that are not in the hall of what a psychopathic person has, but they can show other feelings that are related to depression, such as irritability and even anger.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ): Can psychopaths get depressed?

Can a psychopath fall in love?

Yes, a psychopath can develop a romantic relationship, but here, we need, once again, to clarify that they might not experience the same way other people do. They are people who won’t feel empathy and are concerned about what other people are feeling.

They also have an avoidant attachment style, which can make it harder to create a connection with another person, but psychopaths tend to be part of a romantic relationship because of a shared view of the world or a notion of what they can take out of that relationship. So it is harder to imagine it will be a relationship that goes to a long marriage and so on, but psychopaths are capable of being in a relationship as long as it makes sense for them.

Can psychopaths cry at any time?

Psychopaths experience crying in very specific moments. It can be that they got in touch with a trauma that they had experienced before. When feelings that are suppressed come up, it might be that they experience some tearing up.

Aside from that, a psychopath can experience tearing up or even crying if they go through the loss of someone they formed a bond with. It might be that the person died, psychopaths can show emotions when related to grief.

What is at the base of a psychopath’s desire?

Psychopaths tend to have many goals in life and they all tend to be way too grandiose to a point that they might give it up. Because they have this great sense of themselves, they tend to focus on those grand things. 

But in reality, they tend to look for things that can give them immediate gratification. They don’t tend to plan things or analyze the risk a situation might present, this is what makes them so impulsive.

How can I tell if a person is a psychopath from the way they talk?

There are some indicators in the way they speak that can show a person is a psychopath. They usually have convincing body language, this is a way to make themselves look good, but also a way to show their confidence.

One can also notice that their telling of facts or stories will be stripped of any emotional dimension. They might be telling you an emotional story but it might just seem like they are giving you a cake recipe. Aside from that, a common characteristic of people that are psychopaths is the fact that they are often charming and seductive, and this will also show in the way they speak.

Psychopath people also tend to speak in a controlled manner. This shows how they want to keep control of the social interaction and not show too much of themselves. They are great storytellers and might embellish on it to make themselves look like the victim, or fulfill their needs. In their stories they focus on cause and effect, feelings and emotions have no role in what they did.

What is the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths?

The main difference between psychopaths and sociopaths might be the ability of the latter to establish an emotional connection when psychopaths can’t. But sociopaths are also prone to outbursts, they have volatile behavior patterns and lack self-control.

They might also find it easier to be surrounded by people in comparison to psychopaths, but in the same way, they don’t observe and obey social rules. In the same way as psychopaths, it is still under study what causes a person to become a sociopath, but it also seems like it is related to a person’s childhood and their experience with attachment in that period of their life.

Conclusion

In this article it was discussed what does it mean to be a psychopath, how people are diagnosed, how they get treated and cope with it, all that to understand if psychopath people can get depressed.

The article also explained what it means to be depressed, how people develop its symptoms, and what they are, aside from showing ways to cope with it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the space below.

References

Carlson M, Oshri A, Kwon J. Child maltreatment and risk behaviors: The roles of callous/unemotional traits and conscientiousness. Child Abuse Negl. 2015;50:234‐243.

Martens W. Antisocial and psychopathic personality disorders: causes, course, and remission: A review article. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2000;44:406-430.

Willemsen, Jochem & Vanheule, Stijn & Verhaeghe, Paul. (2011). Psychopathy and lifetime experiences of depression. Criminal behavior and mental health : CBMH. 21. 279-94. 10.1002/cbm.812.

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