Is It Ok To Be A Life Coach If You Have Depression?

Have you ever been hit by a brick wall?

Yeah, probably not, otherwise you wouldn’t be here with us reading this blog post.

Have you ever felt like you were hit by a brick wall?

This is how depression feels.

You don’t want to get out of bed and yet somehow you do.

It’s been awhile since I’ve struggled with depression. It helps that I love my work. The people I work with make my job amazing.

Being A Coach Teaches You Vital Life Lessons

Much of what I’ve learned about how to be a good business coach has helped me deal with sadness and depression.

From reframing techniques to keeping a gratitude journal.

They both played a roll in allowing me to bring more compassion toward myself into my life and heighten my mood.

I remember one rough day. I skipped lunch at work and took a nap in my car. When my alarm went off I didn’t care. I went back into work 20 minutes late and just sat at my desk. I had no purpose. I stopped caring.

We all struggle with our own issues. Some people use alcohol or drugs to cope. Others sleep all weekend. Others choose self compassion with personal tools that work for them.

I coped by drinking and ended up with an ulcer.

I was never a very good drinker. If I have more than 3 beers I get a hangover. More than 5 and I’m worthless the next day.

I had to find other ways to cope.

I’ve relied on friends, family, and my community.

It’s Ok To Reach Out

Now when I feel sad or depressed I reach out to past clients and online groups and offer my help. I have a co-working space where I’ve built my community and two people asked me with help with their websites.

They offered to pay me, but I declined the payment. I said if they want to do more work with me then we can talk about it then.

I just wanted to give back.

I wasn’t in the mood to discuss their site. I was feeling low, but I said yes. I knew that if I helped someone else it would help me stop focusing on my own pain and focus in helping someone else improve their business.

We sat down for and talked about their ideal customer avatar, their niche, and the language that they used on their site. It reenergized me.

It gave me a boost.

I didn’t come out of my funk right away, but it was a stepping stone. Then I decided to review a friend’s home page and send him my notes.

He loved my ideas.

This did the trick. I was back to feeling normal again.

Being A Life Coach Isn’t Easy, But It’s Awesome!

Coaching others is not an easy profession, but a very purposeful one. There is something cathartic about focusing on other people’s problems and issues that helps alleviate your own.

In my opinion I think the best coaches are the ones who have struggled with their own issues, talked about them, and can coach from a position of empathy

They are usually able to bring more compassion to the conversation.

I personally don’t want to work with a coach who doesn’t struggle with aspects of his life. I think struggle helps build people’s compassion muscle as long as they believe in personal growth.

So next time you are feeling down don’t worry, you’re human as Tim pointed out in ‘I’m Too Fat To Be A Life Coach

Focus on your client entirely and feel the shift happen.

Is It Ok To Be A Life Coach If You Have Depression?

if you have done any coaching you will know how amazing a great client session can be. How energizing, invigorating and damn right fun!

So yes! Of course you can be a Life Coach if you suffer from mild to moderate depression. In fact if you allow it to, it can make you a better coach and a happier person.

Do you struggle with low energy or depression? What do you do to overcome it and possibly most importantly, have you ever allowed it doubt your ability to coach?

Tim’s Note: I think it took real guts for Karl to write this. The fact that I didn’t even know tells you how much! It’s also important to reiterate, that we are only talking about low levels (or managed) depression. If you are suffering from severe depression, please seek medical help if you haven’t already.

Image Courtesy of Mike


  1. As some one who went through depression, I have mixed thoughts about this. I think doing something purposeful is great to take someone out of depression (that’s what worked for me anyway).

    On the other hand, I think it depends on where each person is with their depression. I know brain-wise, during depression we’re cut off from some of our mental resources. And looking back on my own, coaching others probably would’ve made it feel worse – I thought I was worthless. Helping others become better during that could’ve reflected back in poor ways.

    For me now though, if I’m feeling down a little bit and start coaching, yeah, it’s awesome and it lifts my mood a lot 🙂 It’s purposeful and tons of fun.

    Thanks for writing this Karl – it’s a tough subject!

    • Karl Staib

      Hi Mark! I tried to convey that during bouts of severe depression the person should seek professional help. My goal in this article was to talk about mild to moderate bouts of depression can be helped by coaching someone else. It gets me out of my own head and allows me to help others. It is a tough subject, but one that I think many of us go through and should be talked about more often. Thanks for a great comment!

    • Tim Brownson

      Yeh I agree mate. Myself and Karl talked about this and agreed that mild to moderate depression would probably be ok, but not severe depression. I think maybe I should go in and add a caveat.

  2. I can completely relate to your post. Thank you so much for your transparency. Often a veil covers this topic but many people experience bouts of depression and sadness. I find solace in being creative and inspiring others, which is precisely why I chose to become a Life Coach.

    • Karl Staib

      Hi Athena! Coaches come in all shapes, sizes, moods, and temperaments. The more I can show people that they’re talents are valuable then the better chance they have at succeeding as a life coach and making a difference in their client’s lives.

  3. Thank you for putting this out there Karl. “In my opinion I think the best coaches are the ones who have struggled with their own issues, talked about them, and can coach from a position of empathy.” This is the kind of coach i strive to be. I am very transparent about my past “issues’ with anxiety and depression – in large part because I wish to do my part in de-stigmatising them, and because I see them now as my greatest teachers – those signs that let me know that I was so far away from my best and highest Self that I couldn’t even begin to find it. But I had to start, and I wouldn’t have had it not been for those debilitating forces in my life. I want others to know they can find that place as well – and move toward a happy and bright future that no longer depends on other people’s opinions of them. I hope for a future where it doesn’t have to be considered brave to put a piece like this out there – but we’re not quite there. So, thank you. 🙂

    • Karl Staib

      HI Sonia! We can choose to where we put our focus. It won’t completely get rid of the pain, but at least it allows us to keep moving forward and helping people each day. Thank you for being brave enough for sharing your story as well.

  4. Hey Karl – Tim’s right, it does take guts to openly admit you suffer with depression, particularly in a public setting with potential clients reading. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I’m with you and the Brene Brown school of thought – vulnerability isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for growth, creativity and connection with others.

    I suffer with depression myself and in fact I’m part way through writing a book about my experiences and the tools and techniques which work for me personally. I’ve been losing momentum a bit recently – I’ve started questioning whether anyone would want to read it. Unsurprisingly, when I took a test yesterday, it seems there’s a strong chance I’m currently going through a depressive episode at the moment. So the crippling self-doubt and waning motivation make sense. I guess it’s a testament to the effectiveness of the tools’n’techniques I’m using to manage my depression that I can be in the middle of a depressive episode right now, but I seem to be functioning pretty damn well, and I doubt any outside observers would be able to guess what’s been going on for me on the inside.

    Reading your post today, and also Tim’s recent one about the author of Tiny Buddha and her similar bare-all book about her struggles – between you you’ve re-motivated me to keep pushing with my book. I’ve written books before and I can do so again. And in the mean time I publish random snippets to my email newsletter subscribers or on my blog.

    In terms of what works for me for managing depression, I’ve built up a routine of a Daily Practice (a la James Altucher). The fundamental components for managing my depression are:
    1) plenty of sleep (7h+);
    2) 25 mins of vigorous exercise, 6 days per week;
    3) plus I take St John’s Wort which I prefer to prescribed SSRI medications;
    4) 10-15 mins of meditation.

    When I do all of those steps consistently, my whole life just works better. If I go a few days where I miss some or all of those measures, then my life soon starts circling the drain of depression again.

    Psychological techniques such as reframing are also very important for me. I keep coming back to Tim’s post recently about the Hamlet quote, “‘Tis nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”. In other words, it’s all about perspective or interpretation. When I’m feeling low, I often catch myself thinking with a myopic negative mindset and I have to force myself to consider other (healthier, more rational/useful/positive) perspectives, though my depressed brain strongly resists!

    Recently, I’ve been finding myself feeling pretty low/sad for several hours at a time quite often. In response, I have a tendency to leap into problem-solving mode and think about how to make myself feel better. However, I’ve found that sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be any particular cause for the sadness and any problem-solving efforts simply make things worse. I can become a hypochondriac and swiftly conclude I’m doomed unless I’m careful!

    Instead, recently I’ve been finding a great deal of success using a simple mindfulness technique. I simply acknowledge the fact I’m feeling sad, allow myself to sit with the feeling for a while, and don’t try to fight or fix it, then gently move my attention onto something else. Like you, Karl, I find that keeping busy on a worthwhile/enjoyable task can be highly effective in banishing the blues.

    I do still struggle with being able to determine which approach works best on any given occasion. When I feel sad, I find myself wondering if I should problem-solve, analyse my thoughts and re-frame? Or should I try mindfulness on this particular occasion? It’s often very hard to say up-front… so for now I’m stuck using trial & error. I’ll try one approach, see if it works, and if it doesn’t then I’ll try another. This seems to get me by!

    Anyway, I hope that’s helpful!

    • Karl Staib

      Hi Rob! I love the breakdown of the different tools that you use to keep sadness and depression at bay. I’m not sure if you ever read The Power of Habit, but it’s an excellent book. It’s about how to create habits that improve your life. A good routine is at the top of the list. I find if I wake-up well then the rest of the day is much better for me. Yoga is the first thing that I try to do if the house is calm. Even with kids up I try to do it with them crawling all around me. Thanks for your bravery as well. The more we share the more we can help others.