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Nursing Research and Practice
Volume 2011, Article ID 858497, 7 pages
Review Article

Perfectionism and Depression: Vulnerabilities Nurses Need to Understand

Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University, Athabasca, AB, Canada T9S 3A3

Received 18 November 2010; Revised 20 March 2011; Accepted 25 March 2011

Academic Editor: Sheila Payne

Copyright © 2011 Sherri Melrose. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Striving for excellence is an admirable goal. Adaptive or healthy perfectionism can drive ambition and lead to extraordinary accomplishments. High-achieving people often show signs of perfectionism. However, maladaptive, unhealthy, or neurotic perfectionism, where anything less than perfect is unacceptable, can leave individuals vulnerable to depression. In both personal and professional relationships, nurses need to understand how accepting only perfection in self and others is likely to lead to emotional distress. This paper reviews perfectionism as a personality style, comments on perfectionism and high achievement, discusses vulnerabilities to depression, identifies how to recognize perfectionists, and presents balancing strategies perfectionists can implement to lessen their vulnerability to depression.