The Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) measures and describes people’s preferences about how they perceive and make sense of the world. One of those personality types, INFJ, is known as “The Advocate.” According to Meyers Briggs, INFJs tend to be highly tuned to other people’s emotions. They often draw inward during times of stress and conflict.
Some older studies suggested that INFJs might be slightly more likely to feel sad than other types; however, more recent studies don’t show as clear a connection. Still, some people claim that understanding what INFJ might mean helps them to better understand themselves and their emotions.
It’s important to understand that the MBTI has not been studied or empirically supported as a tool to assess any mental health conditions.
INFJ stands for Introvert (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J). These four characteristics are part of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This indicator is designed to dissect how you process the world and categorize you based on your answers. With those answers, you’ll be sorted into one of 16 personality types.
MBTI defines people with the personality type INFJ as “meaning-seekers.” Deeply sensitive, MBTI says they are acutely aware of other people’s needs and feelings and suggests that they are often committed to working for the common good.
Furthermore, MBTI says INFJs tend to be quiet, introspective, and introverted but that they need connection and relationships to thrive as much as anyone else does. Finally, MBTI describes INFJs as value- and vision-driven people — hence the “Advocate” label.
The short answer is, no. While the MBTI is a widely used and very popular personality assessment, it’s not designed or proven to evaluate or address depression. If you think you might be depressed — no matter what MBTI type you have –— it’s important to talk with a therapist, psychologist, or healthcare professional about what you’re experiencing.
Depression and introversion: Is there any connection?
The first “I” in INFJ stands for introverts. An introvert is a person who prefers being alone or in smaller groups over large gatherings. Being around a lot of people is often draining and taxing for an introvert.
Any links between depression and introversion are unclear and not generally supported by research.
The perception that all introverts are withdrawn is not supported by research.
Introverted people with good social skills who are immersed in a supportive environment are more likely to be socially engaged. Being socially engaged under these conditions benefits self-esteem — and strong self-esteem is actually
Depression and emotional sensitivity
In the MBTI, the “F” in INFJ stands for feeling. People who are extra sensitive to emotions may be vulnerable to depression if they take on the burden of other people’s feelings. Here’s a look at how that can happen.
Empathy and depression
The ability to empathize with the feelings of other people is universally regarded as a good thing. But when empathy goes too far, it can increase the risk of depression.
INFJs, emotional intelligence, and depression
Researchers have long been curious about the overlap between the MBTI and tests that measure emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is said to be the ability to recognize and respond to emotions, both in other people and in yourself.
In a 2014 study, researchers found that people who are intuitive and introverted on the Meyers Briggs assessment also score high on emotional intelligence measures.
Emotional intelligence seems to have an influence on depression symptoms. When people are highly attuned to emotion, they may have a hard time shifting their attention away from moods, researchers say. Dwelling on painful emotions can have a
But it’s important to note that emotional intelligence can also help with depression. Being tuned in to emotion means you have opportunities to build up your emotion-regulating skills. In other words, the more aware you are of your feelings, the more skilled you can become at keeping emotion in balance.
Researchers say the ability to manage your own emotions is one of the keys to good emotional health.
Depression and the judging sub-type
The J in INFJ stands for judging. The Meyers Briggs Foundation describes this personality trait as conscientious, decisive, organized, and goal-oriented. To the world around them, INFJs seem to want to keep things under control.
In at least one study, researchers found that people who were experiencing a depressive episode displayed lower levels of competence, self-discipline, and conscientiousness.
Although more research needs to be done to understand the relationship between these traits and depression, there does not appear to be a strong association between people with a judging sub-type and the risk of depression.
The MBTI is a personality assessment developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs. Cook Briggs was highly curious about Carl Jung’s idea of psychological types, so she and her daughter, Briggs Myers, sought to put a concrete system in place to categorize people.
The MBTI was revealed in 1943. Soon, it was picked up by national government organizations and large-scale businesses across the world. The MBTI, the mother-daughter team told these companies, would help them understand and direct their employees better.
MBTI personalities fall along four axes:
- extraversion (E) or introversion (I)
- sensing (S) or intuition (N)
- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
- judging (J) or perceiving (P)
Briggs Myers and her mother believed that the combination of these criteria would provide great insight into a person’s personality, influences, and work style. Today, newer assessments are preferred over MBTI.
While it is possible to find free online MBTI questionnaires, it’s important to know these may not be very good tests for determining your real MB type. Most are not using real MBTI questions and do not have a trained expert deciphering the results.
If you want the test, you’ll want to find a person who is trained to administer this personality assessment. These people include therapists, counselors, coaches, principals, and workplace consultants.
While it might be interesting to know your MBTI type, the MBTI is not designed to help diagnose or treat mental health conditions like depression and is not used for this purpose. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, seek care from a mental health professional.
The MBTI is not used as frequently or as widely today as it once was as a personality assessment. More well-researched, well-investigated personality assessment tools have taken the place of the MBTI.
Still, a Myers-Briggs type assessment may tell you a lot about yourself. It may help you identify how the many parts of your personality work together individually and collectively.
Knowing your MB type may be helpful. Whatever your current state of mental health, it’s not the result of your personality type; however, elements of your personality can impact your mental health. Understanding how the two work together can be one way to help you learn to manage your own mental health.
Depression is not a disorder that can be diagnosed with a lab test. Instead, a doctor or therapist will use a set of guidelines to help them understand if the symptoms you’re experiencing are the result of depression or another possible issue.
The first thing you might do is fill out a questionnaire. Several types are used for diagnosing depression.
Coupled with the results of that questionnaire, your doctor may also look for certain behaviors that could indicate you have depression. People who experience five or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks may have depression:
- lack of interest or loss of pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
- frequent sadness or depressed mood
- fatigue or lack of energy
- difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- an inability to focus or loss of concentration
- changes in appetite
- feeling agitated or upset frequently and easily
- thoughts of death or ending one’s life
Treatment for depression will depend a lot on your personality and lifestyle. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for depression.
This is an area where knowing your Myers-Briggs type may be useful, though most research about personality and treatment involves clinical personality assessment tools rather than the MBTI.
If you know your MBTI type, you can discuss this information with your therapist or doctor.
Typical treatments for depression include:
- Medication. A doctor may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.
- Psychotherapy. Talk therapy can help alleviate symptoms and sources of depression. INFJ individuals may have difficulty talking about themselves, but a trained professional can help you work through those roadblocks.
- Alternative therapies. Treatments like dance therapy, art therapy, or acupuncture may help ease symptoms of depression. Your own personal interests and personality types may help direct these types of treatments.
Things you can do daily to feel better include things like:
- Learning to say no. Because INFJ people are so sensitive to emotion, they may absorb the feelings and the problems of people around them. Learning to set healthy boundaries can help you avoid symptoms of depression.
- Taking care of yourself. Sleeping well and eating well are vitally important to your physical health, but they’re equally important to your mental health. Good physical and emotional self-care can go a long way toward creating a healthy balance for yourself and the people in your life.
Finding help for depression
If you’re feeling depressed and need help with treatment, these resources may help:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – 800-950-NAMI. They can connect you with support groups, therapists, and other resources in your area.
- United Way Helpline – 211. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect you to the resources you need. This might include addiction recovery, healthcare, or support groups.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255. This free and confidential hotline is also available 24/7. They will connect you with local resources that can provide you with emotional support and guidance.
The MBTI is not designed to help diagnose or treat mental health conditions like depression and is not used for this purpose. There’s no research that supports that any Meyers-Briggs personality type is more prone to depression than another.
According to MBTI, people with the INFJ personality type are naturally introverted. They may need to find ways to connect and engage with other people so they don’t become isolated. INFJs also have a natural instinct to care for others. Over time, absorbing and handling other people’s emotions and worries may affect you.
While your personality type is not the defining factor of your mental health, understanding key parts of your personality may help you in discovering ways to help yourself and may be helpful to share with your therapist or mental health professional.
If you believe you have depression, talk with a doctor or mental health professional about ways to treat it. You can also devise ways to help you avoid depression in the future.