Examples of such problems: you hate your graduate program. You have no friends in your city and no idea where to look. You are unattractive and wish you weren't. You are skeptical of your faith. You have no activities or hobbies that involve other people and wish you did. You are not as good at software engineering as you want to be. Your job is hell. You fake a character in social situations that makes you hate yourself. You are impotent at facing injustice that you perceive in the world. You are uninspired by the prospects of the career or community available to you. Any of the above + you drink, do drugs, or play video games to avoid dealing with it.
* Another: your career is pointless or selfish
Short term solutions like exercise, making friends, or talking to people, and making something will only fix the depression if they happen to address the actual problem - which there's a good chance they do. And of course, the whole situation can spiral out of control and compromise your ability to do something about it, in which case professional help + drugs can make all the difference.
I believe you are describing solutions to problems that can make someone sad or frustrated, which is a fine thing. I'm all about being real about your life situation and doing something about it.
However, depression is a disease independent of external factors. I had it when I had arguably one of the coolest jobs in my life up until that point. I treated it with medication, got out of the slump, and applied techniques to stave it away.
Those techniques are what you called "short term solutions." I think of them as long-term preventative measures to stave off the chemical imbalance that can cause depression. Regular exercise keeps up your serotonin and endorphin levels, as well as helps you maintain a healthy body-image. Interacting with people, also increases serotonin and endorphin levels, and ensures you don't feel lonely. Engaging creatively keeps your brain active and, you guessed it, increases serotonin and endorphin levels, as well as distracts from the "why do I bother" feeling, aka, gives you a "reason."
One of the most important lessons I ever learned when I had a shit job. I kept thinking "if I just get a better job, then I'll be happy." Then I realized how much it would suck if my internal happiness depended totally upon externalities - who's to say a good job is the "best" job? If I adopt that mindset I'll always be chasing the carrot on the stick. The important thing is to do what is necessary to be happy no matter what, and then focus on the externalities (the "problems" you describe).
During my first semester of university, I suffered crippling depression and at some point tried to kill myself. Soon after I entered a mental hospital and started journaling. In one of my first journal entries, I noted that I was fairly smart, had great friends, had parents that loved me, had a full scholarship to university, and yet I hated my life and wanted to die. At the time, my condition certainly seemed like some sudden contingency resulting in brain malfunction.
What I did not then realize, and in fact did not at all realize until last year, was that I spent the first 16 years of my life in a literal doomsday cult. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, and since that was really all I knew, even when I eventually came to the point where I disagreed with some of the doctrines, it never crossed my mind that there was anything at all nefarious about how that organization treats its members.
What you have to realize is that without exceptional self awareness or being adapt at adopting multiple perspectives, people are mostly blind to context of their own circumstances. That's usually fine; such awareness takes a ton of energy and most people just don't need it to stay alive. But when things do start going seriously wrong, and you're experiencing non-congenital mental disorders, is it really reasonable to believe that your mental state is "independent of external factors"? As if that's somehow the one thing the brain's constant processing of sensory data and immediate experience and past memories isn't effecting?
It's not clear what "independent of external factors" really means, but in this case quitting the job seems to have worked. It wasn't that the job was bad in the sense of prestige, but rather that the job was a massive stressor in physical and emotional ways.
Now, everyone is an individual, but I'd hate to see someone else spend decades fighting depression without access to every weapon they can use.
What causes the chemical imbalances? Research on animals show that chronic stress causes depression, so it definitely can be caused by external factors. If your job is causing chronic stress then changing job is obviously a plausible cure for your depression.
And with depression (or anxiety), this isn't so easy. It gets difficult to see opportunities and easier to blame yourself, thinking, "I'm lucky to have this crappy job and that they put up with me". It can make your job seem crappy, even when it isn't.
I get to see the way the chemicals affect my brain once a month. Once a month, I think I'm going to lose my job. That people dislike me. That people are suddenly treating me harshly and I must have done something wrong. I consider changing jobs.
This is like this even when I enjoy my work and actually like the folks I'm surrounded with. It doesn't stop with work, but is a handy example.
I likely should be on anti-depressants half the month - if you've not figured it out, I'm female and this is entirely hormone-related. Instead, I've adjusted life. Once I realize what is going on, I can relax some on the temporary nature of it all. Sometimes it works better than others.
The thing is when depression hits, for me, it is much like this. All the freaking time. Work becomes a relief from home, home becomes a relief from work, sleep a relief from it all. I literally don't have the capacity to sort out which things in life to change or what to do next. I get stuck.
This is why it is a long-term preventative measure. Gotta catch this stuff before the darkness sets in and messes with your sensors.
I like this language, "messes with your sensors." Depression is a disease within the brain, and naturally it's difficult to observe a system from within that system - especially when those observational tools are affected by the system itself.
So it's really hard to know you have depression and take the steps to treat it, when you have depression.
Freud said that the purpose of therapy was to replace neurotic misery with ordinary human unhappiness. Some Californians find that a bit of a downer, but it's true, and we can do something about unhappiness.
Hormones are well known to interact with the stress system and exacerbate depression.
You make a good point about depression itself causing issues with (for example) your job, making it difficult to know what is the source of the problem. I think the best that people can do in this situation is to take a break from work, and think carefully about what they really want from life.
That sounds like an oversimplification in my opinion, as there are some pretty glaring problems with using other animals to model mental illness in humans.
Wouldn't the only real analogue be learned helplessness, or am I missing something?
>there are some pretty glaring problems with using other animals to model mental illness in humans
Yes, but the research also looks into stress and depression in human subjects (see above).
The key sentence in the abstract, I think, is this:
Here we provide an overview of the evidence that chronic stress, which can precipitate or exacerbate depression, disrupts neuroplasticity, while antidepressant treatment produces opposing effects and can enhance neuroplasticity.
Notice there not being any mention of a causal relationship here.
What? No disease is independent of external factors. You even list a bunch of things which affect it. Depression is a pattern, subject to countless factors. I think what you mean to say is, there isn't a single cause of depression, and it can manifest when many of the factors affecting it seem to be "pretty good", and it can not manifest when those factors seem to be "pretty bad".
This statement is true only in the narrowest sense and is actively harmful to people with mental health issues. Let's compare depression and cancer to see why.
It is common to say something like "cancer is independent of external factors" to mean that anyone can get cancer. It doesn't matter how healthy of a lifestyle you live. Due to random chance, the guy who regularly works out and eats fresh vegetables and avoids toxic substances can get cancer when the guy who watches tv all day, eats nothing but twinkies, and smokes like a chimney might never get cancer. The first guy's cancer was out of his control.
When people talk about depression being "independent of external factors" what they're trying to say is depression can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter how healthy your "mental lifestyle" is. Depression, like cancer, is a disease. Some things may make depression more likely, but anyone can get it at anytime and there's nothing you can do to completely prevent it.
No one feels ashamed for getting treatment for cancer because society recognizes that cancer is disease that can happen to anyone. But people feel ashamed for getting treatment for depression because most people believe "depression doesn't happen to normal people." If you make statements like the parent's about depression but don't make similar statements about cancer, then you are actively contributing to the problem even if your statements are factually correct.
I think it's true in the right-width-of-sense. Illnesses like depression are difficult because they certainly _do_ lie somewhere closer to the symptom side of the "symptom-disease" spectrum than cancer.
Alcoholism is good for comparison, because it presumably falls even further towards the "symptom" side of the spectrum. But there is certainly a spectrum!
So we have Cancer which is mostly-disease and Alcoholism which is mostly-symptom, and Depression which is somewhere in between.
The fact that these complications lead to weird moral baggage (socially-derived feelings of guilt, etc.) is completely separate from a good analysis of the situation. Depression and cancer are just very different phenomena.
There's as many known external factors for cancer as depression. And as with cancer, they've got only a small impact of likelihood of reducing your risks of getting the disease.
It's therefore unknown if depression is caused by external factors, or simply triggered by them, or a combination, and if so, we're not exactly sure what all the factors which have an influence are.
As it stands today, it's still very possible depression is caused by generic defects, bacterial infection, virus, or some other unknown external factor like polution, exposure to some toxins, or very early development problems, etc.
Honestly, I'd love to be enlightened on some very definite research that knows what causes depression, but as far as I'm aware, science doesn't know.
So there is this problem that some people have depression, and we assume it's just there lifestyle, or they were raised poorly. This is due to the nature of mental diseases, which we understand poorly, and often we associate our mental state as our conscious of our own doing free will. Like someone who is naturally grumpy, we say that's who he is, no one questions that it might be he's got a disease, maybe there is a brain anomaly, or a weird communication of his neurones happening that don't balance out his emotions properly and skew him to being grumpy. But being a grumpy guy would never affect your life enough that you'd seek medical help. So people who are depressed, they're like grumpy guy, except it affects their life so much that we put some research into addressing it. Sad truth is we found very little yet.
With that said, we can see how socially we should be careful how we speak of this, because we're often giving the impression that external factors is the known cause, and that a few lifestyle change is the cure. Except that's false. The cause is unknown, and exercise is just the best we got to help. Imagine if we thought similar of cancer, we'd cut funds for cancer research, we'd just tell people they should eat better, stop smoking and exercise. And everyone who gets cancer got it because they probably didn't follow the right lifestyle.
If I buy a lotto ticket, I have a chance to avoid losing. If I win, it's over. If I lose, it's over. It's only good for one drawing.
However, I have some risk of cancer as long as I am alive. I may be able to do things to reduce that risk, but my chances are infinite as long as I breath. I can choose not to play the lotto, but I can't choose not to get cancer.
The chance you win the jackpot with Lotto is miniscule. It is basically so small, that it isn't worth the investment. You're better off not taking that chance because the risk isn't worth the reward. These games are, basically, fallacies designed to manipulate humans, tricking them into behaviour they should not [logically] resort to.
With cancer, you have genetic risks to get (certain types of) cancer, sure.
However, for example living next to a highway increases the chance you get cancer. So, not living there increases your chance of not getting cancer [at a young(er) stage of your life]. Which increases the goal of human life as we agreed upon.
So I agree they're not the same, but your example of Lotto (or similar games) I find rather bad.
I think with regards to cancer this is related to risk/reward. People take risks such as speeding, eating overburned food, or living near a highway. They feel the risk is worth the reward, and they live under the assumption they get away with it.
Citation needed. The popular theory of depression being caused purely by a "chemical imbalance" independent of all other factors remains unproven, though it does make for a good and simple advertising ploy for big pharma in that it makes their consumers believe the only way to happiness is through their patented drugs.
I felt inadequate and useless. You can call it temporary sadness, but I constantly contemplated suicide and nothing helped.
No matter how much I studied, I still didn't get new concepts as quickly as others and needed to study all the time which sometimes wasn't enough. Once I failed the qualifying exams, I quit and got a software engineering job where I'm doing really well and have plenty of money.
Now I'm really happy and never have such thoughts, so for me it was a matter of fixing a condition where I kept failing.
Blanket statements like this (and quite a few in the article too) should be suggestions at best. That might be your experience but it sure as hell isn't mine. I think we can agree to disagree on this and possibly recognize that depression is not a one size fits all disease. What works for you might not work for me. Thus presenting any analysis or solution as fact simply confuses people and can be quite dangerous. Presenting the chemical imbalance theory as fact is especially misleading and extremely dangerous. It's much harder to admit we know a lot less than we actually do, but it's also much more helpful.
I'm not sure this is fair.
Depression can often come from bad or non-existent relationships.
Loneliness, being away from family, having toxic relations with family, esp. those with whom you live, can definitely be sources of depression.
I only get depressed when I'm away from family for too long, for example.
I understand one can possibly shape one's view and change that, but often the 'external' issue is a reasonable thing to address.
But of course, often it's not like this.
I've recently begun to wonder if pursuing 'happiness' is even a useful goal. I'm not really sure what 'happiness' is, or whether it exists. In the past, I have conflated transitory 'ups' in my life, caused by external factors, with sustainable and lasting happiness. When those external factors change, as they always do, it never seems to end well. But it's such a difficult thing to avoid; even being aware of all of this I'm pretty sure I'm going to fall in to this same trap at some point in the future.
I don't think there's something wrong with setting "happiness" as a goal - I think the important thing is separating that goal from other ones. So not attaching "achieving happiness" to "when I get a raise," instead just looking at internal things you can do to "be happy" in whatever situation.
But exercise, good diet, and not being in a stressful situation does help.
Just to clarify, are you saying that systems as intensely interconnected as brains in bodies in the world only ever enter depressive states... for no externally visible reason? What kinds of external factors are you counting (or discounting) here?
>However, depression is a disease independent of external factors.
Which sounds like "all depression is a disease independent of external factors". Further supporting this interpretation is that they "completely disagree" with the person they were replying to, as if their comment stood in contradiction.
If we are weakening the parent to just say "There exist cases of depression not caused by external problems" then they don't really contradict what they are replying to. The person they were replying to said "When you are depressed, see if there's a serious problem in your life" because they acknowledged that potential causes of and contributors to depression were numerous and heterogeneous.
When I'm debugging a program, the bug can come from lots of places. When I see a bug, I should definitely see if I'm failing to validate input. If someone told me "I completely disagree. Bugs are caused by hardware failures" I would tell them "if you are saying that all bugs are caused by hardware failures, you are simply wrong. If you're saying that some bugs are caused by hardware failures, then that in no way contradicts the wisdom of seeing whether I'm not validating my inputs".
Where are people getting this idea? I mean, I suppose I could accept it as a definitional exercise in the same way that I can accept the idea that "gurple" is a bluish tint of red. But if you look at, say, a recent DSM, it doesn't say that external circumstances preclude a diagnosis of depression.
Then again I think I was very fortunate to have an externally driven depression that I could distance myself from (if I were broke and didn't have parents to support me, who knows if I could have had the courage to quit).
Depression may be affected by real life problems but it is more life-enveloping than that. I've been the most depressed at times in my life when things were going objectively great. The people who asked "what's making you sad?" or tried to "fix" my "problems" were the least helpful.
There's no mention of that in the DSM or the ICD.
People with miserable lives can still be depressed; people can have miserable lives without recognising that their lives are miserable. There is no such thing as an "objectively great" life; attempting to define the quality of your life in reference to fixed external criteria is arguably pathological in itself. Part of living a good life is developing an individual and personal sense of what is valuable and meaningful.
The current gold standard of treatment for depression, cognitive behavioural therapy, is in large part a coaching programme to encourage patients to do things to improve their lives. The cognitive aspect of CBT is secondary to the behavioural aspect - cognitive and metacognitive skills are taught in order to facilitate behavioural change.
Maybe not in those words, but the DSM does appear to distinguish between a depressive episode and e.g. bereavement: http://www.mental-health-today.com/dep/dsm.htm (I don't think this is the actual text, but it's the best I can find without a copy of the DSM-IV-TR on hand).
IANAPsychologist, but as an ordinary person, the article's distinction between sadness and depression seems reasonable and intuitive enough for a layperson to understand, and that's a step in the right direction in a world where laypeople (including people who might very well themselves have depression) rarely understand anything about the actual nature of depression.
The definition linked above does seem to generally imply (and in some cases explicitly state) that depressive episode/disorder symptoms better explained by some other diagnosis or situation (like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) should be taken as further symptoms of that disorder/situation rather than a separate diagnosis of MDE/MDD. I guess the question is whether or not symptoms induced primarily by external stimuli (as opposed to when the symptoms are expressed as irrational thoughts regardless of external stimuli) ought to be under a similar banner of "these are symptoms of $SOME_OTHER_CONDITION rather than depression". My (again: non-professional) opinion leans in favor of "yes" being the answer, since it likely has different treatment implications (remove patient from symptom-causing stimuli v. prescribe cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication to patient), but that's the thing about brains: nobody really understands how the brain (and thus the mind) works, and thus it's unclear whether or not such a distinction would actually be useful.
It seems likely that both external stressors and internal thought processes can both be the cause of depression (and in many cases, a combination). CBT addresses the internal thought processes, but doesn't do anything to address external factors. My wife underwent CBT and took antidepressants, but they didn't really cure the depression. Quitting her crappy job fixed it for good.
Do the other factors in that particular condition still apply? Namely, "the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation."?
Isn't this merely inaccurate rather than pathological, since external criteria are almost never fixed? (cf. inflation)
The DSM changes so often that I wouldn't really rely upon it for a definition.
Even with that said, the average time between DSM revisions is, what, every 15 years, give or take? I wouldn't exactly call that "often".
Take a really hard look to find things that are making you sad. Especially things you're telling yourself that you're not sad about. If you find it, fix it like GP says. If you don't find it, pursue depression treatments such as the post.
As someone who lives with someone depressed, I find myself guilty of doing this and I don't know any other way to be present for that person. What kind of approaches have you found helpful?
Instead of asking "why sad," try to simply do things with the person that will get their mind off their own negative feedback loop. This is easier said than done, and if the depression is lasting for weeks or months, I suggest seeing a mental care professional.
Anything. (But not passive things like watch something, or read something.)
Make something, drive, hike, volunteer, clean, garden. Whatever.
You can help them by thinking of what activity they often do, and doing it with them. But remember to think of what they do, not what you do.
> The people who asked "what's making you sad?" or tried to "fix" my "problems" were the least helpful.
That's why parent comment says to seek professional help. I believe they wouldn't ask or say those things.
That just means you cannot identify the reason you're feeling depressed. If everything was going well (including your own health), you would not be depressed.
This is a good starting point for the medical definition of depression (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtm...). Note the variety of treatments proposed that don't involve psychotherapy. These treatments aren't people taking the easy way out, these treatments are for people treating chemical imbalances in their brain that make it difficult for them to function in their daily lives.
For a more lighthearted discussion of depression, the new podcast "The Hilarious World of Depression" features interviews with comedians who suffer from depression, and how they've struggled with and managed from the disease.
This is tautological, and hence true, but an uninteresting point. Just pretend it says "... Depression is when you feel down even when all is going well except of course for the disorder in your brain."
- Depression is when you feel down even when all is going well except of course for the disorder in your brain."
I'm saying this is not a possible situation. The disorder is a result of things not going well, including your own physical health.
Sorry, but that just isn't true. People can be depressed for no reason whatsoever. See my reply here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13367913
Depression means, even if things are going well, you can't feel good about it.
Sadness is the feeling you get when something bad happens and you are upset about it.
Depression is the feeling you get from brain inflammation, which might feel qualitatively similar to sadness, but which is usually caused by one or more of: chronic stress, lack of exercise, nutritional deficiency, poor sleep habits, lack of sensory stimulation, infection, or twenty other things.
Once you can differentiate between them, depression isn't actually that hard to fix, at least at the early stages. It's like right now if I were to gain five pounds I'd get acid reflux, but I know that, so if that starts happening I just stop eating as much for a couple days and the problem fixes itself. Same deal with mental states.
In particular, it looks like you're mixing up cause and effect, and I haven't the slightest idea from where you're getting the "brain inflammation" thing (it sure as hell ain't in the DSM-IV, last I checked (it's been awhile, granted, but still)).
You're claiming matter-of-factly that brain inflammation causes depression. Well, I (we) don't believe you, because that's a far from widely accepted theory. Your condescending google links don't help.
Which I posted in response to getting blatantly gaslighted.
I don't care if you disagree with me, but pretending you don't know how to use Google to try to discredit someone is a lame debating technique.
Totally not surprisingly, when you google brain inflammation and depression, you get lots of references that suggest a possible link and none that justify claiming it as a fact. So, [citation still needed], and it's not because we're bad at using google.
Gaslighting is a form of personal attack that's designed to make someone doubt the validity of their own senses or personal experience. The reason I took yellowapple's comment as gaslighting is that he was calling into question the existence of a large body of research that shows up with even the most trivial Google search. If you don't buy into the cytokine theory of depression or think that my summary of the theory/research was false or whatever then that's fine. But by implicitly claiming that the research itself doesn't exist and is just something I invented, then at point I take it as a personal attack.
> The former is far from factual, and it's dead wrong to claim it matter-of-factly.
This 2008 paper is already one of the most cited journal articles on depression of all time:
"It has been established that pro-inflammatory cytokines induce not only symptoms of sickness, but also true major depressive disorders in physically ill patients with no previous history of mental disorders. Some of the mechanisms that might be responsible for inflammation-mediated sickness and depression have now been elucidated."
"A role for cytokines in depression was first proposed by Smith in the form of the ‘macrophage theory of depression’ and further studied by Maes in the early 1990s. [...] Despite its originality, especially at a time when depression was thought to be associated with decreased rather than increased immunity, this hypothesis failed to attract the interest of the psychiatry community. Because biomarkers of inflammation in clinically depressed patients are not always elevated, the postulate that common pathophysiological mechanisms link depression to inflammation was limited. Other key components that would support this postulate were also missing, such as a demonstration that stimulation of the immune system induces depression-like disorders; identification of a possible common pathophysiological mechanism between the effects of cytokines in the brain and the neurobiological basis of depression; and proof that decreasing the inflammatory response attenuates symptoms of depression. As discussed below, research in this field has now supplied these key components."
"A growing amount of clinical data point to the importance of the relationship between inflammation and depression in physically ill patients and in conditions that are associated with increased activity of the innate immune system, including ageing and obesity. For instance, the prevalence of co-morbid depression in patients with coronary heart disease, a disease in which inflammation is now recognized as a major contributing factor, is three times higher than in the general population."
In order to say definitively that inflammation causes depression there is a lot of stuff we'd need to know that we don't currently know. However, in order for it not to be true, there is a lot of stuff that would need to be false that we know is true. That's why I don't think it's inappropriate to claim it matter-of-factly, even though there are still a lot of missing details that need to be filled in.
Asking someone for a source (ie. "citation needed") isn't the same as 'gaslighting'.
There is no need to feel offended when someone asks for a source when you boldly claim something.
Using the website 'lmgtfy' and using this as source however is condescending. Say you are writing a paper. Would you then provide a Google search link as source? You wouldn't. That is why (indirect) Google links are not a source. Google is a tool to find a source.
No one's trying to make you question the validity of your senses. You just need to make claims that are corroborated by reality, at least approximately. It's fine to say there's a connection. It's not fine to say that depression is always caused by brain inflammation, and if you try to do that you'll be downvoted and ignored unless you make an extremely compelling argument (which you didn't).
Based on the research I've perused from google / your references, if you matter-of-factly claimed that some depression is caused by inflammation (or causes brain inflammation? how to tell?) you'd be fine. But to claim depression as a whole -- all of it -- is caused by inflammation? that's still wildly unscientific.
"Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target."
There's a clear difference between that and calling out (EDIT for clarification: what I believe to be) incorrect information, and my admittedly-biased opinion is that my previous two comments in response to your own are squarely in the latter camp versus the former. I'd also hardly call one or two comments "persistent", though - again - my viewpoint is obviously biased in my favor.
I'll admit that pulling a  was excessively snarky, though. I'm sorry. I ought to know better than to be a jerk, no matter how right I think I am.
With that said, "just Google it" (and similar approaches, like linking to a search engine query or some snarky wrapper thereof) is a very poor rhetorical technique in general; as I've already demonstrated, it's not guaranteed to actually prove one's point, and it reeks of either or both of two hidden meanings:
1. "I don't really care enough about the topic to give a meaningful citation, so I'm just going to tell the other party to find citations oneself"
2. "I don't actually have any source for the information I've provided (maybe I did once upon a time, but I sure don't anymore), so I'm going to tell the other party to 'just Google it' and hope that said other party is somehow impressed by the number of search results regardless of the sites in question or what the linked pages actually say"
Thus, it's generally a good idea to avoid those potential hidden meanings and just provide an actual source.
"The Duke team concluded that depression, therefore, is more likely to contribute to inflammation in the body as opposed to arising as a consequence of inflammation."
But saying that because they didn't find a pathway that inflammation is unlikely to cause depression doesn't really make any sense, given that major triggers for depression are surgery, infection, autoimmune diseases, etc.
I don't think anyone is disputing that depression also causes inflammation, but the idea that the causality only goes one way just seems very counter to everything else we know.
In fact, the DSM definition of major depressive disorder/episode (or at least this summary thereof (I unfortunately don't have a copy of any DSM version on hand): http://www.mental-health-today.com/dep/dsm.htm ) explicitly excludes cases where the symptoms are caused by some other physical case:
"Note: Do note include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations."
I would think brain inflammation would count as a "general medical condition" in this context, though whether or not "clearly" is applicable is admittedly very unlikely. Regardless, the DSM seems to maintain a distinction between "depression symptoms caused by some other disorder, whether psychological or physical" v. "only exhibiting symptoms of one or more major depressive episode(s)". In the former case, yeah, totally work on fixing that inflammation with lifestyle changes or whatever. In the latter case, it ain't really that simple.
C.f. my other comment. I think there is good evidence for causation in both directions.
> In fact, the DSM definition of major depressive disorder/episode
I wouldn't use the DSM definitions of depression due to, among other reasons, the fact that there is very little iter-rater reliability:
I think the article I linked to in my other comment has it correct, where depression should be considered as something that exists within all people on a spectrum rather than as a mental illness. Now obviously if depression gets to the point where it's causing health problems and interfering with your ability to work and enjoy life then that may be a diagnosable issue, but it's a mistake to think of depression as being something that you either have or don't have in the more general case.
Most mainstream Judaeo-Christian postulates the immortality of the soul. But it seems to come up against mainstream history and science.
Hasn't anyone here felt these existential questions? Even if you accomplish so much, in the end you can't even answer basic questions about the meaning of it all. You can consile yourself with the idea that this is all there is. But it seems like when you go, it goes back to how it was before you were born. All this knowledge you've accumulated and even more, your continued day-to-day consciousness, it seems this world exists only because you do.
It just seems like such a waste if this was all there was. And consciousness is really amazing, it is at the root of it all.
This isn't exactly depression but an awareness that while the world might go on, you will not always be around to experience it. And everything you do will eventually fade away.
Against that cosmic backdrop, one can conclude that doing something is pretty much like not doing it. That fun party you went to at 17, that sex you had at 28, what trace has it left? So why do the same job day after day? Only because you love it.
I have however arrived at what I believe to be a meaning of life. I think it may appeal to other science types. The main purpose of human life simply seems to be able to persist and gain complexity. You can play a small role in either part. Help life persist or help build complexity. Right now in this time, we simply don’t have enough complexity to even take a stab at the overall meaning. So saying you have the definitive answer is akin to giving up. Thank you for your contribution to the persisting camp though. Your offspring may help us build some complexity.
But, you can believe that one day we ( mankind, machine kind) will know the answer. So why can’t your belief simply be faith in that one day we will find answers and right now you simply don’t know. Help put the next piece in the puzzle while you are here so the next person has a shot .
E.G. help us get off this freaken Rock! :)
My answer has been something closer to Buddhist thinking than western religions. It's an intense effort to focus on the current moment. The past is done and cannot be changed. The future will happen, but it's largely beyond our control. It's much more productive and fulfilling to devote all of one's energy and attention to the present. Out of the past, present and future, only the present is real and open to unbiased observation. And practicing removing one's own bias when observing the present moment feels, to me, like the point of life.
Suggesting you can "lead yourself" to depression by simply thinking is just as wrong as suggesting those with real depression can just "snap out of it."
The view that depression has only biological causes is dangerously naive, if not flat out wrong. Depression absolutely can be caused by unhealthy thought patterns.
Of course it did - that's what thoughts are.
This seems like a really strong statement that can't possibly be absolutely true. Isn't there some literature on this?
I remember seeing some "self care twitter" posts with lists of things that "don't cure depression" (thinking happy thoughts, sunshine, Vitamin D) but obviously some of those do send it into remission in many people. Isn't that enough?
It's something that happens over time it's not like a switch.
Then six or so months ago this realization struck me again. Every day since, I wrestle through the same exact thoughts that you posted.
I just want to be content.
If you find yourself in a depression, your thoughts constantly searching for answers to questions about the universe and why we are here, try to do something more akin to what the person in TFA tell about: create. Your real problem is certainly not that you don't have those answers, it's something else.
However I am saying that what's happening is similar to depression.
I work hard on building something and scaled back on social hangouts all the time, so I can finish it. But it has been years.
I am dating but never sure if I should settle down with this one, or that one.
I think deeply about what is the meaning of it all, and I see that most people are just trying to distract themselves with work or drinks or whatever else. But ultimately I see everything as being very limited. I guess people with depression feel similar things but far more acutely.
Creating stuff doesn't turn off that thought process. Any more than a videogame character adding currency and amassing items means that the video game won't end. What good are all your virtual points then?
For me it's to spend your time being happy. Nothing else really matters. If you spend your life being unhappy and feeling bad, remember that you will die and that will be it.
Does it? Science does not answer questions that defy empirical inquiry.
I have been told that we are spirits first and that we are having a temporary in-body experience. We don't currently remember our time before because this period of our eternal existence is a special test. It's a time of development and preparation. After death we will resume our real lives and eventually get our bodies back, permanently, thanks to Jesus Christ.
My whole life I've been considering ways to either prove or disprove that narrative, but it turns out to be strictly unfalsifiable thanks to the part about forgetting our previous experiences. Does that mean the narrative is false? Certainly not. Does that mean it's true? Again, certainly not.
Should I discard that narrative because it's unfalsifiable? Well, I can't prove empirically that my mother loves me, but I hold on to that belief anyway because I think it's right.
It's wrong to burden science with every important question. When we torture science into answering unfalsifiable questions, we change its definition and confuse everyone. I love that the domain of science is constantly expanding and more questions are becoming empirically answerable every day, but we need to maintain our humility and recognize that science still has little to say about the basic questions of our existence.
I wholeheartedly agree that if this life is all there is, there's something seriously wrong. My wife, my children, my parents, my family, and my friends deserve more than just this. I see evidence of their infinite potential. What can I do to help them reach their true, immortal potential?
I don't think I'm the first person to recognize the infinite potential of others. I think more intelligent people figured this stuff out long before I did. I think some of those smart people decided to do something about all the wasted potential in the universe. I think we are all beneficiaries of those smart people and that life isn't anywhere near as bleak as it seems.
If not, someone somewhere is eventually going to be in the right place at the right time and they will set things in motion so that future people will have eternal lives. They will probably decide that eternal beings should have extraordinary experiences such as 100 year long blind tests in planet-sized classrooms. Oh wait. :-)
Anyway, forgive my ramble. Life is extraordinary and hard to pin down.
Similarly if the Exodus happened Egypt would have been devastated and overrun by Hittites etc.
Or Herod's killing of all the children. Or the mass resurrection of the saints in Matthew. It would have left behind some independent accounts.
Where is all the evidence? That's what I mean.
It can all still be true theologically. But who wrote these books and if it happens that at least some of stories are embellished then doesn't that kind of throw a monkey wrench into it? On what basis are you sure about what to believe?
People are not perfect and prophets are people. I know of a prophet who said Jesus was born in Jerusalem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Does that invalidate that prophet? No, he was addressing a people who didn't know the eastern lands very well and he was simplifying. Context is everything, even though we don't always know the full context.
If I were sure about what to believe, it wouldn't be belief anymore; it would be knowledge. If I only acted on things I am certain about, I would do almost nothing, since there is very little I am absolutely certain about. Life became more fulfilling and interesting when I learned to act on not only things I know, but also things I believe. Acting on belief leads to growth and ever increasing certainty that I am making choices that benefit me and my family.
But your advice works if people have support network, it's tough alone.
And when you realize doctors diagnose everyone out of their ass, you get more depressed. After 10 minutes she claims you lack serotonin. On what bases? I even don't know what to say, life is bullshit but stop with being so sensitive, even if you're wrong, dsm and all your doctors use as much as real science than your average hn commenter.
If you haven't been formally diagnosed, please for the love of god stop talking about "depression". You have no idea what it actually is.
If you're bored you can watch the commercials on TV to learn that it's a chemical imbalance, and then repeat that fact every time a discussion about depression surfaces.
You are under the common delusion that depression is caused by something in a person's life/environment.
This is NOT TRUE!
Depression is often caused by nothing whatsoever. Someone is simply depressed with absolutely no reason at all.
Depression that is caused by something is not strictly depression, it is a semi-normal response to difficultly and people will automatically fight to try to make life better - you don't have to tell them to do that. (The problem comes when they aren't able, or don't know how, to fix things.)
Depression is caused by nothing. The brain is just not working right. You just have to wait it out, learn coping methods, sometimes drugs, or sometimes you may be able to do a physical activity that gets the brain working right again.
If you can internalize that depression is not caused by circumstance you will go a long way toward understanding people with depression.
Edit: changed the word sadness to depression.
> Quantifying that nothing in someones life (or their past) is causing them sadness
I didn't say sadness, I said depression. They are not the same.
> This charade
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you've never experienced depression, and don't know anyone with it.
If that should change you'll quickly realize just how mistaken you were, and you'll feel bad for ever saying things like this.
To put it in context: It's like telling someone blind who still has physical eyes "You can see, stop pretending."
I don't agree or like that statement. You're alluding to something approaching a faith-based illness, whereby you fight against anyone looking for causes, insisting there is no cause. "It just is".
But that doesn't fit with what we know about how stuff works in this universe. If the brain is not functioning as it should regardless of good life circumstances including health, family, lifestyle, then something is definitely causing that malfunction. Don't shoot down someone looking for causes to a problem.
I know it's fashionable to look down on ourselves, but sleep deprivation is used as a torture device. I and many others have been in a position where we had to undergo it in order to pay our rent.
Telling a depressed person that they've really no right to be is, however true, certainly not going to help.
Of course a common problem causing recurrent depression is mistaking a short term fix for something more substantial, so people need to be careful to make sure they correctly identify that when it is in danger of happening.
If the answer is more "No" than "Yes" then you need to figure out the specifics of why that is and either have a long conversation with your partner or find a new one.
Remember: you can't change your partner, but if your requests are reasonable and they truly care about you, then they can change themselves.
> All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
(full quote: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/309485-nobody-tells-this-to...)
I really wish "just make something" was that simple, but for people who are already full of self-doubt, it might not make things any better, especially for people with high standards. There are ways to get around this (see the rest of the Ira Glass quote), but it's not the panacea the article makes it out to be.
Like the people who can taste good food, can't necessarily cook good food.
Perhaps it's just enough that you care about something and want to get good at it.
I liked Sal Khan's TED lecture  about the possibility of us all having the capacity to be cancer researchers in the same vein that people 200 years ago assumed that only the best would be able to read.
If they were the same, then all the front-end developers and UX experts would both work the same job. Some people can, and it's usually those who have developed skills for both.
Self-awareness of your skill level is the first step to developing it.
Do you define it as how your answer or creation measures up to everyone else, or do you define it as you made significant progress in a field you had very little prior experience with. In my math escapades, it's linear algebra, for you it may be differential calculus, etc.
Basically if you always measure success in comparisons to others, you are always going to be disappointed. There are very few times where this isn't true -- such as you entered in a competition for worlds best overall mathematician, which almost doesn't exist, because you have to pick one thing and specialize in it.
Just realize if you take the time and effort to practice, you will achieve success. We all have the same brain, and barring any learning disability, every human has the same potential for amazing learning, the only difference between those seemingly geniuses with perfect answers that solve problems in a way you could never conceive, is they practiced more, and thought about it more.
I completely disagree, and I think this attitude, which I find more prevalent in North America, is at the root of a lot of depression and feelings of lack of self worth. It's the same as saying that "person X is more successful than person Y because they wanted it more / worked harder at it"
In the end we do not have all the same brain, and we do not have all the same capabilities, thinking that we do in my opinion makes it a lot more likely to develop feelings of lack of self worth (I still suck at this, it must be my fault)
Some people find the innate ability mindset oppressive and saddening, and are greatly comforted by "you can do whatever you set yourself to!"
Other people find growth mindset oppressive, and greatly prefer "you can't be the next Gauss, so stop feeling bad about his achievements!"
None of which is a strictly relevant to what's true, of course. The answer there seems to be "lots of skill is inherited, skill plus effort is required to truly excel, but skill and effort are often interchangeable except at the highest levels".
But for whatever reason, I'm in the second camp with you on which narrative is depressing. A lot of growth mindset writing is almost physically uncomfortable for me. I appreciate the value of hard work, but believing that everyone is equally capable completely contradicts my life experience, and implies that 99.9% never fulfill our potential in even a single domain.
I think what changed for me is that I got good enough to regularly interact with people at the "highest levels" of what I do. Teaching probably had some impact on me as well.
I still work hard and enjoy improving, but if I'm completely honest with myself, I'll never be as good as some of the people I regularly interact with. Their minds are gifts that no amount of hard work can compete against (especially because they're also incredibly productive... which in some sense is, I think, also a genetic gift. I need my 8 hours of sleep and can't consistently work more than 10 hour work weeks.).
Since having that realization, I've noticed that most people in my life who prefer the growth mindset happen to work in occupations where there isn't a lot of room for variation -- or where variation in productivity is almost completely explained by factors under your own control. E.g., factory work, truck driving, and the sort of healthcare occupations you can do straight out of high school. Or in one case, a software dev who puts in his 40 doing very standard C# LoB CRUD apps.
Figuring out that there's an essential difference between my environment and theirs was a huge relief -- it's not that I wasn't working hard enough (I definitely was), it's that the type of work I'm doing is much more sensitive to variation in natural ability.
Maybe ignorance is bliss when it comes to the growth mindset.
"The more you know, the more you know you don't know."
The less you know, the less you know you don't know.
Being a knowledge junkie, ignorance would be bliss. But once you know you can't easily go back and un-know.
You can be born super lucky to get, say, a 100 multiplier in playing the oboe, you will be considered "gifted" and you will rush past your peers, however all you have is a multiplier, if you put in 100 hours and somebody with a 1 multiplier puts in 20,000 they will become better than you despite your "gifts". But if somebody that has a 100 multiplier puts in 20,000 hours then they will reach levels that you could never ever reach due not having enough time in your life to do so.
On the other hand, unfortunately there are plenty of cases where you might get a 0.1, 0.01 or even 0.001 multiplier, and in those cases you can work hard as much as you want, but you will never ever become more than competent at whatever this is even after a lifelong pursuit. I am pretty sure for example I have a 0.01 multiplier at painting unfortunately.
In the end one always needs hard work, but there should be the understanding that due to how you are born, your hard work might not ever give you the level of performance you would like to have, and that's nobody's fault. This is also why the people that excel at something and go "it was all about hard work, you can do this too if you try really hard" do a great disservice to everybody else.
If you "try really hard" you cannot become an astronaut unless you are genetically lucky and have all the required physical attributes, same deal about becoming a world class anything.
It does feel like the only way not to get depressed is to tape/record yourself regularly at anything you do, always save some of your learning efforts (paintings, musical performances, woodworking things, ...)
I personally am lifelong learning playing the pipe organ, and midi record every single practice I do: when I feel bad about a perceived lack of progress, I play some midi files of six months ago or whenever and I am instantly reminded that yes, I am progressing slowly but I am progressing quite a bit. The only thing I personally have issues with is that no matter how well I learn a piece I will always make at least a couple of mistakes when playing it, I wish I could get a piece perfect but it seems that whatever my multiplier is for "perfection" it is a lot lower than the multiplier for "good enough"
I think most people can be decent at most things, certainly. Humans are (almost always) normally distributed, and odds are you're between 0.5 and 2 on most scales. If you want to run a 5k, or play guitar for fun, or make a website, your multiplier probably won't stop you.
But if you want to be the best, or you're choosing a goal where demand is short (astronauts, professional tubists, etc), you'd better think about your multiplier. There's a reason music schools are so viciously selective, and it's that hard work isn't going to get you a career unless you're somewhere up in that 100+ territory.
I'm pretty sure I'm down around .1 for music. I'm fairly tone deaf, my sense of rhythm is crappy, and I've never found any part of music intuitive. I've played some instruments, I don't regret it, but I'm certainly not going to go stake much of my time on being even middling-competent.
You touch on one thing that I think is a huge deal - people with big multipliers don't necessarily feel it. That top-notch musician knows they worked their ass off, but can't experience how they would have done with a worse multiplier. It's like listening to successful founders say that you should just focus on your idea and "it'll all work out in the end" - that's sample bias like no other.
I didn't get really skeptical about pure effort and growth mindset until I started working out how specific people learn. The gulfs in effort for different people on the same achievement are shocking, and this model is far better for understanding that.
Well, mine did :-D
After 3 years of practice, I could still not accurately do what a kid can do after 1 week, or someone who plays another instrument after 20 minutes.
It was time to throw in the towel and admit that there are hopeless cases and that I was one of them :-)
The worse thing is that I did not have great expectations when I started, since I don't have any interest and even dislike complex music. But I couldn't even reach my very very low expectations... By far... since 3 chords were 2 too many and the other one would never come at the right time :-D
I think the key realization is that whenever the incentives are strong enough, a lot of hard-working geniuses will be fighting for the prize. Hard-working geniuses are really hard to compete against, and if you don't realize that natural variation is a real thing, you can get discouraged pretty quickly.
Usually, those people are making disproportionate contributions to the world for comparably small rewards. Usually. We're lucky to have Einsteins and Bachs and Taos and an infinitude of less well-known but probably equally capable hard-working geniuses. I'm very grateful for hard-working geniuses who devote themselves to important problems! Some of them do apply themselves toward more secular ends, such as Gates. That's OK too, although the world takes care of gratefulness for me ;-)
It's just important to realize they exist if you ever get into a situation where you're regularly competing with them.
Google shows me nothing but out-of-context biology-textbook material, so I'll ask: what is the relevance here of "natural variation"?
I just meant "some people are smarter/more productive than others for reasons beyond either person's control at the time of measurement".
So it could be environmental factors (access to better support or higher quality educational experiences in early childhood). Or just genetic. I'm not positing any specific causes, just making a general observation that I find to be true of the world I see around me: especially at the highest levels, some people really are just smarter than others, and no amount of hard work could close the gap.
Exactly. With math, you must focus on the journey at least as much as the destination. While the proof motivates the effort, the mastery of math comes not in deriving elegant proofs, but in devising 'A' proof, then remembering how you did it so you can later: 1) use the method again in other proofs and 2) improve on the proof, often by learning from others. Nobody jumps straight from zero to hero.
Like chessmasters, only the best mathematicians invent techniques. Most just employ what they've learned in inventive combination play.
If he had created a beat on his own, posted it on soundcloud/youtube and posted, say, on reddit, he would've likely gotten trolled or put down or compared to any number of amazing beatmakers and it would have added to his depression instead of helping him get over it.
I don't think we are equipped to deal with the fact that there is somebody younger than us better at anything we can think of than we could ever be, and those somebodies are also instantly accessible from anywhere at any time for comparison purposes.
In the old days, say, you could tell yourself "ok, the teacher/master craftsman/... that is teaching me is so much better than me because they have a lifetime of experience, when I will be their age I will have learned and will be just as good", but now you can find endless amounts of people younger than you already amazing at what you are trying to do, and you think to yourself what's the point when they are already there and you have just started.
Nowadays with most of the world connected you can find hundreds of "one in a million" people you can compare yourself to: and if you are depressed it is really really hard to want to get started at anything, because getting started at something means months or years of being objectively pretty bad at it, months where you can tell yourself "what's the point, youtubeuser999 is a kid and they're already better at this than I ever will be"
It is also hard because one of the ways to get better, is to compare yourself to people better than you and try to figure out what they are doing that you aren't, and incorporate that in your practice. If you are in a beginner art class with a teacher walking around and you are all around the same level, you can get a lot of benefit from looking at others and listening in.
But if, thanks to the internet, you have Michelangelo on your left, Leonardo on the right, Vermeer in front of you and Tintoretto behind, and you are just trying to learn to draw a face that doesn't look like Frankenstein, it is going to be extremely discouraging.
Say you do truly believe that you can stand out in whatever crowd it is. Certainly that's true of a learners' meetup in person, but that could be an online community, in which you find a niche or a community with a greater demand for creative work than supply. (Soundcloud is not such a place, but consider fandoms as an example.) You believe that you could get positive reinforcement of the value of your work from making something, be it a table or a beat. You find and engage with that community. Awesome, that's the first step!
The problem that then arises is that doing things at the level of quality that folks come to expect from this new world of democratized creation (and you're a perfectionist at some fundamental level, of course, who browses the Internet and will see exemplars of whatever craft you want to pursue)... is that even if you believe you can get to their level, you need to put the time in to practice your craft. Like "the free time of a teenager" levels of time (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori ). And if you're already in a place where you feel guilty for misallocating the hours of every day of every week of every month for a very long time... then the clarion call of huddling in bed, or reading a website, or playing a video game with instant gratification, can quickly drown out the impulse to create. A comfortably unsatisfying safety blanket from which it is very hard to escape.
There's a much lower barrier to entry to writing HN comments, that's for sure...
This is the plot to Amadeus:
Perfect is the enemy of good; good is the enemy of
Example interview: https://clarionfoundation.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/interview...
(search for "Writing the Genre Fiction Novel")
The problem, though, is that I often lack the motivation to do even little things. Sounds like that's the case for folks with depression, too.
It really doesn't matter: making them got me into a flow state, I got a ton of carpentry practice out of them, and as a handy side-effect I NOW HAVE A NEW SET OF SHELVES. Woo.
(Also I need to buy a finishing saw. Oh no, more tools, whatever shall I do.)
A few searches later and I'm looking at super-realisticly rendered WebGL demos of mobile 3D pinball examples and thinking "there's no way I could ever implement something like this".
Anything I can think of already exists, and already exists better than I could do it.
The only thing that I have going for me is that I have dissociated my emotional/psychological state and my intellectual pursuit to become smarter than I was the day before. I can work on stuff when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when tears are wetting the paper, when it's cold, when it's hot, when I'm anxious, when I'm relaxed. The first thing I did after college is trying to come up with a studying schedule to undo the harm of not making the most out of it.
This is great, right? The downside is that, judging myself even more harshly than when I judge myself compared to others: If I can work in all conditions and everyday, how come I still suck at everything and can't do anything well. I haven't found an answer to that, yet.
The expectation that you must "dunk over Michael Jordan" to do so is a bit absurd.
That's why Elon Musk says he didn't pursue his idea of using capacitors as batteries. It relied too much on whether or not there was something to be discovered. So he went with things that definitively could be built, where he was sure that "success was at least a possible outcome." ("Known unknowns")
So I would think that you should choose your project wisely, where, again, you can be sure that success is at least possible.
It seems to me that you're letting yourself be paralyzed by something that really has no bearing here. You will note that the article does not say "solve a hard math problem first and best". It says "do something with your hands and your feet". The two are not comparable.
The hard part is letting go of being the best, or even succeeding, in my opinion. It's cliche, but the attempt is what matters. If you run a marathon to win it, you will almost certainly be disappointed; but if you run it to be a better runner, to be healthier, or simply to say you did, you will be happier having done it than having not done it because you know you won't win.
I restore old bikes. It's easy mechanically, cheap, and projects are short enough to never be overwhelming (unlike e.g a car project). It's a nice analog change from computers.
But you've obviously never seen a gardening competition. People absolutely worry about growing bigger and nicer looking carrots.
Keeping your head up while (inelegantly) solving tons of problems yourself is an crucial step to solving them well.
One thing that helped me is realizing that there is ALWAYS going to be someone who does something better than me. You are still learning when doing things, you're still getting better.
It's a corny saying but it's true: winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.
Writing a song is hard. Learn how to make beer. Or fix up an old bike. There are tons of things you can do that involve creating something, that involves physical activity, a sense of achievement and produces a tangible result, but doesn't have the element of creative block or impostor syndrome.
You can outsource all the work and spending money to others lol. This is also true of "effective altruism".
Why be so egocentric as to want to try to change the world? It is going to change anyway.
Take these questions seriously, I would like to hear some answers. I think it is to leave some mark because of our desire to exercise power and control over our environment. For men, it is an instinct to leave a trace that is independent of our biological lifespan. (Most women have an instinct to have children.) The desire to get really rich from helping many people. And finally, the desire to do something you like and have it be meaningful.
The obvious con of course is that it can be really time consuming.
I could give a damn if I'm #5 in the world or number #5,000,000,000 in the world for x. I just want to be as good at x as I can be. I get a little bit of joy every time I get a little better at it.
But the only way to get very good and end up being one of those "others" who make the best things is to push past this point and keep making things anyway. Of course you're not the best in the world at something when you first start doing it. Nobody was. How could you be?
1) recognize that if you really want to be good at it, it will take time and consistent, proper work at it (see deliberate practice).
2) maybe you don't have to be the best; you might be able to muster something that is good enough and that would still be of value to others (by definition, if it's good enough).
3) you're doing it for yourself.
This fact surprises many people, because popular reporting of science and invention usually attributes ideas to some instant flash of insight, skipping over the hard work that led to it.
I can guarantee though that if you keep doing it with focus & dedication, ultimately it's going to work out.
The second half reminds me of well meaning people who make things worse by trying to help. "Just (go jogging, do something creative drink vegetable shakes)"
I would if I could damn it! lol
In the OP, the author recieves a nudge from his friend, but ignites his spark himself, and connects all the dots.
It's like Inception, you can read however many self-help books, blogs, studies, ideas as you'd like to try to make yourself get out of something, but it won't happen until it's "your" idea.
I have very much experienced this myself, and I can draw parallells between myself and the author, but I know that me telling anyone else won't help them (also from experience), because every transformation happens from within. All you can do is be supportive and present. Nudges and ideas can provide a seed, but they have to grow it. But there's also the risk of appearing pushy and having the opposite effect.
Things are good for me from an objective perspective (money, career, family, health), but I'm miserable and not in a good place. My brain is broken and only certain treatments help. A DJ class isn't fixing me.
I really think these people are confusing burn-out with depression. These are actually two very different things that require different solutions. I wish we were more open talking about burn-out and dissatisfaction instead of just ramping everything up to "I suffer from depression! Halp!" You don't. Once shit gets good for you again, you'll be Mr. Happy. I won't be.
I feel like there's a stigma against discussing burn-out because it really can be seen as a personal failure. You worked too hard for stupid reasons, you believe your dishonest boss or work culture or coworkers, you had unrealistic expectations, you tried too hard for something that was impossible, or you simply failed and its entirely your fault, etc. It seems more ego-pleasing to just jump to talking about depression and kinda sorta equating your situation with people who suffer from major depression, which ultimately is ego-pleasing but the wrong way to go about things. If a DJ class 'fixed' your depression, you didn't have depression, you had burn-out/situational depression, which has nothing in common with clinical depression.
That said, I don't want to trivialize situation depression/burn-out. Why do we only see post-burn-out articles but rarely see burn-out prevention articles? I spend about 20% of my work day considering whether that path I'm taking on this project or interaction violates my own anti-burnout strategies (do the least work possible from a reasonable perspective, do not create drama, let foolish things slide unless they personally affect me, very carefully pick battles, mentally clock out at 5, realize its just a job and that I work to live not the other way around, etc).
Also the above is written from someone with a depressed perspective, so take that as you will.
Then I one day planned to do it starting the following week and finally got it done.
And so I found that using a physical agenda is the way to keep myself out of depression, it makes me do things
"Just go do x" sort of has a "Get off the couch" pre-requisite that needs to be satisfied.
I've also found bike riding can be modified in a similar way. Throw on a hoodie even if its hot out. This allows you to put your head down and your hood up and generally ignore the world. Even when its hot out, its normal enough to wear a hoodie to work up a sweat". Bike riding also works at low enough speeds you can do it in a very apathetic manner(I find it easier than walking.) You don't have to work hard, just getting a little motion starts blood-flow and can provide a small lift. For me its about finding the easiest, simplest, way to provide some sort of lift to start the day and then hopefully you can snowball it.
In my case I feel lucky for the experience, I was only out of work for a few months and learned that you should never trust the company you are working for beyond the next paycheck. Never work on weekends with the promises you will be ‘paid back’ etc. You are ultimately working for yourself regardless if you are salaried or contract.
Same could be said for many who were laid off in the crash of 2000/2001. I was one, and in many respects I'm still recovering from it. I'm not entirely happy with how my career has gone since then, but I like where I live enough that I'm not willing to change that, and I realize the tradeoffs.
Passion for your job is not necessarily bad; passion for your career is better, and passion for the work itself is even better, but there are things beyond work, and perspective is a powerful thing.
At the same time, I have mixed feelings about psychiatry. The field has done a lot of good, but I also can't help but feel that modern antidepressants are seriously lacking. They help some people, but they don't help everyone and can take weeks or months to work; they can also backfire and make some people suicidal. Prior to the 1950s, the common antidepressants were opiates and amphetamines. These fell out of favor due to their addictive properties, but in a way their addictiveness comes from how effective they are at rapidly alleviating depression. If you found a pill that made you happy within an hour, it's easy to see why you would want to keep taking it (and why you might want to take more of it than you need).
It can be very difficult to create an antidepressant that makes you feel better without also having addictive qualities. I often wonder if stigmatizing opiates and amphetamines -- and replacing them with MAOIs, tricyclics, and SSRI/SNRIs -- was a mistake. I'm not saying that they should be first-line treatments, but it seems a little weird that we would rather give people ECT (induced seizures) than psychoactive chemicals that reliably and rapidly alleviate dysphoria.
I've personally found Kratom (a plant with opioid alkaloids) to be very effective at relieving depression and anxiety, and of course states have already moved to ban it. Sometimes it feels like all the useful drugs are illegal, and we're left with these half-assed pharmaceuticals that have a low potential for abuse precisely because they don't do anything useful.
Again, I think psychiatry has done a lot of good, and many medications do help people. But desperate individuals are still committing suicide. We need to do better.
I had my first (and so far only) ecstasy pill a year or so ago, and it was wonderful - lit my brain on fire, caused me to experience the best music festival I've ever been to, and gave me the kind of intense connection with my friends I'd been missing from years of crippling depression. The following week was hell, and caused slight but permanent damage to my family relationships. It took a couple more weeks to recover to even my low standard of 'normal'.
It was only later that I learned that ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, and basically anything that acts on the seratonin system can cause severe depression lasting a week or more - and if you've already got depression, that can get really bad.
It's worth being careful with these things.
On the other hand - a similar experiment a couple of months later with a small dose of synthetic psilocybin yielded a week of the best mood I've been in for years, with no obvious side effects.
I'd love to see more research on these things. I'm probably not going to do much more research on it using my own brain ;)
repeating for emphasis
Then I start wondering - what is all of this for? and what's the entire point of even living?
Talking to people does not help either (as it is, I'm not very social and then to add to that, most friends would have a general response along the lines of "oh wow...look at you and your problems", talking to parents is worse - they'll tell me to pray and that's how life is - which I refuse to accept).
Distractions are the only thing that has helped me yet - I distract myself with almost anything I can find - games, cars, tv shows, movies - just so I don't think of anything else.
I write this because, as the author mentions "Make something" - the will to make something disappears. Which is why distractions help.
If you believe that there's more to life then you should keep looking for more. Dream and make your dreams happen, even if it takes time you'll have a goal and purpose.
There is no point in living but there's no point in staying in the box society puts you in and be miserable neither. You can do whatever you want.
I generally agree with your sentiment. Anything I do seems to fall so far short of my expectations that it makes me depressed.
My mom used to say "when you reach for the moon, at least you'll climb a tree" but to me the image of man on a tree, reaching out to the moon fills me with hopelessness instead of inspiration.
It's not actually about reaching the moon, but (I think) just doing something. Because purpose and meaning can also come after doing something which previously had no apparent meaning.
He's wrong though, not every human is "innately creative" in the sense that there's an artist, singer, dancer, drummer, painter, sculptor, or didgeridoo maestro hiding somewhere inside each of us if we only look. That's not fair. Some people will go looking and find disappointment, much in the way I think for some reason I'll never enjoy Calculus II or have much of an aptitude for it. I just think false hope can lead to, eh, other depressive tailspins.
I'm a terrible flute player. I go so long between practices that I sometimes forget where my fingers go, but the simple joy in making notes with a wind instrument makes me smile me every time. The "bar" is set at "just create tunes" not "be a classical virtuoso."
This right here. These sorts of feelings are very similar to piloting an airplane in a stall. You can pull the nose up as hard as you can, but unless you fix the problem (e.g. by increasing the throttle) the plane is going to "fix" the problem for you (usually by nosediving and/or spinning out of control). If the engine is broken, then the only recourse is often to point the nose down yourself, and hopefully in the process you'll give yourself enough speed to make it to a nice clearing instead of crashing into the face of a mountain.
If the bar is at "maestro" then no, of course not. But I think most people can be creative to some extent even if it's -at best- journeyman level. The trick is to remove the societal / cultural stance that says things must be maestro level or they're not worthy of our attention.
What I found over the years is that having a routine helps ward off depression, and by definition almost making something isn't a routine it's a one time event.
I would suggest something much simpler. Walking. Take as many steps as you can every day. Log the results, but really you just want to do something to get you moving so the results don't matter, I just like to compete against myself and walking is something I can do just about any day.
Eventually you will feel like doing something other than walking, but there may be weeks or months or you don't -- and that's OK too.
The point is just not to lie around letting the self-destructive thoughts spiral and lock you in that place you don't want to be. But even when you're there, you can still put one foot in front of the other...
This way every day of your life will have significance. Even if the day was dreary, mundane, sad, or even horrible, recording the memory records the significance because you lived it.
Journaling didn't cure me of depression, but it helped me build a ladder out of my pit of despair.
I discovered I was depressed because I felt like any time I wasn't actively being "productive", I was wasting my life. I would come home from a long day of engineering to jump into more engineering.
Over the holidays I vowed, as an experiment, to just do nothing "productive". Maybe if I play video games and watch Netflix and be with my wife more, I'd end up being more productive in the long run.
These past 3 weeks have been my happiest in years.
The part I'm still trying to figure out is how to convince myself of this truth the next time I feel like leveling my Night Elf while watching Suits with my wife is a waste of time that I could be using to make something really cool.
We've made a condition that is largely out of your control a taboo and I don't know why. It's ok to want to be functional, and people can help without pretending like your depression/any other condition isn't real.
The reason "why" is (I suspect) because the people who don't understand depression think that it's not out of one's control. Thus, since they don't experience the effects of depression, they insist that people with depression will be magically cured if they just tried to be happy.
This approach to curing depression - much like trying to fix a severed limb by pretending it's still there - is almost always destined to fail. When it does inevitably fail, the non-depressed people - still failing to understand depression - resort to blaming the depressed people for being depressed.
It's very unsurprising, after all, much like how it's unsurprising for a physically-healthy person to take for granted the ability to use stairs, or how it's very unsurprising for right-handed UX designers to assume that users are right-handed (I'm looking at all y'all Android designers...), or how it's very unsurprising for developers to brush aside bugs with their software because it "works fine on my machine, so you're obviously just doing it wrong; RTFM".
No, I already Read The Fucking Manual™; you just suck at comprehending that your exact situation is not everyone else's.
I broke my arm a year ago and I was surprised to see how much rote behavior I relied on using my left hand for! It was pretty enlightening and I try to think about what I take for granted from time to time.
It says a lot about how humane the society we live in really is.
Making things isn't a panacea for me, when I'm done working I'll still sometimes feel less than great, but it always helps.
I respond best to very specific instructions that don't require choices on my behalf. For example, "do something active," won't move me. Instead I need, "put on running shoes, go outside, run around the house three times." It's a silly example, but the point is that I won't "do something active" but I will "put on running shoes, ...".
I'm glad the author found something that helped him through depression. Unfortunately this is not a silver bullet. It won't work for everyone, or even every time depression hits.
There are many different activities you can try to help battle depression, and they are definitely helpful, and creating things is one of them. But they'll all fail without a key ingredient: realizing that you have to just do whatever you have to do, simply because it's the right thing to do, regardless of your emotions, or how intense they are, or lack of them.
If you live by that philosophy, you'll find yourself doing all the right things, and for all the right reasons, and you may not ever get out of depression, but it won't be crippling anymore.
A major difficulty with carrying this out as a person in tech though is that we're inherently a little more existential and philosophical than others because of the nature of programming being very intertwined with philosophy, and we get paid more generally which means we usually have more time to think too. Combine these with modern philosophy, and you usually have programmers who see no real value in life other than to enjoy it and have a good time (which explains why we love alcohol and sugary drinks like Red Bull so much), and when that good feeling runs out, life feels pointless and empty for us, because we can't find any motivation.
That also explains why there's a steady stream of philosophical and motivational posts on HN's front page. Because usually that good feeling that programming gives you doesn't last forever, so we try to look for explanations, or we try to look for other motivators. It also explains why we keep coming back to exciting topics on here, like bitcoin and the newest programming languages or tutorials on Haskell monads (which nobody can ever understand even though we know we should, so the closer we think we get, the more excited we are).
I don't have numbers on how many programmers are turning to religion, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was growing too, because we're looking for some motivation to keep us moving forward after the excitement runs out (and it always does, and never lasts very long).
Right, but how do you figure out what the "right thing to do" is? Especially if you ignore emotional response as a guide?
I'm not sure if I'd call what I experience "depression" (a doubt that makes me suspect it might very well be actual depression, but I know better than to pull a Freud and try a self-diagnosis), but whatever it is, it boils down to a finite state machine where the only transitions are "feel worthless for being unproductive" and "be unproductive because you're worthless". There ain't any breaking out of that sort of loop, at least not easily.
1. Mindful meditation [free] -> Daily practice (30+ minutes)
John Kabat-Zinn  masters the link between science and meditation and has published very valuable books (including guided/audio meditation exercises) . There are a couple of scientific studies which prove effectiveness  .
2. LSD [$5-10/dose + $25/multi-use test kit] -> One-time experience (every 6 months max.)
LSD however requires one to literally read/understand/know everything about the substance before applying it (minimum literature: "The psychedelic explorer's guide" by Fadiman). Also, order a test kit and test before you ingest. Certain "edge cases"/people should not try it and educating yourself about everything will allow you to decide if it's a good idea in your case or not. In addition, you may be able to access your spiritual dimension, which increases quality of life even further (it is less immediate with meditation).
You may combine micro-dosing LSD with meditation for accessing the meditative state easier (it's quite a challenge for depressed people).
I'm with you on the LSD thing, though.
Meditation becomes rather unrealistic once your depression is past the "moderate" level and has become "clinic" (strong), in which case either anti-depressants (mostly with side-effects) or a well researched and full-blown LSD experience can "jumpstart" your brain again (and therewith enable you to start practicing meditation which then helps you avoid falling back into strong depression).
Its my favorite hobby, I love creating things, but I often couldn't bring myself to open the text editor or even open my laptop. When I did, I was constantly distracted.
Honestly, I still love to code but I'm yet to find the same gusto even still, when I'm markedly better but not feeling as secure as I was before.
I don't know how writers and other creatives can pull it off when they're depressed, I know I'm much better at it when I'm feeling stable.
Ask HN: how have ya'll delt with depression, other than psychoactive drugs?
When I'm just sitting around saying "am I happy yet?", I never am. It just reinforces the depression by reminding me of the challenges. Happiness, in my experience, is the sort of thing that I can't usually produce on demand.
But I can set yourself up for success. I ask myself what tends to make me happy, and then I make the hard decision to legitimately engage with it: I challenge myself to be swept up in the moment, even though it really seems like I won't be.
For example, I generally find happiness by making progress on the things I'm invested in. But, even though I am invested in being happy, I can't just dive into coding and expect it to work, because coding isn't actually what makes me happy: coding helps me accomplish things I care about, and that makes me happy.
So, first, I find a self-contained goal, like "I'm gonna work on this really cool project because it's really cool", or "I'm going to make progress in this video game because it challenges me to think in new ways". Fulfilling this goal for its own sake, because I'm legitimately invested in it, is what makes me happy. In order to succeed at happiness, I carefully choose a different target, and focus on it instead.
That's what's been working for me recently, anyway.
I'm recovering from 2 years of clinical depression, and lemme tell you, trying to write songs while you doubt every single goddamned thought, bone, and instinct in you is a bad idea.
Creativity requires a modicum of self-trust and curiosity. Major depression is so mentally engulfing that there's no room for those two things.
Then we can talk.
It’s very difficult to imagine what that would be like - until you experience it. Hope you’ll seek out some effective help. It’s hard to dig out all by oneself.
"Sane Thinking about Mental Health Issues" - it discusses the phenomenon where in some cultures 'getting professional help' before reaching out to friends or family is absolutely necessary, and that 'abnormal' mental health related feelings should not be shared or discussed.
Your comment reminded me of that attitude. Maybe it would be enlightening for you to read about other perspectives
Her response: [Wow. I didn't read the article either but the comments are really insightful. There is no "right" answer for everyone, but it's reassuring to read that people who are susceptible to depression can acknowledge it, find ways to fight it, and live well in spite of it. I think that's much healthier than looking for a 'cure'. I believe that I will always be the type of person who struggles with depression, but over the years God has given me the coping skills to have a full and joyful life as who He created me to be, not who other people think I should be. Does that make sense?]
Note that I am not advocating nor denouncing a faith based approach here, but as many here have recommended, I think openness to complete lifestyle changes is something to seriously consider for those struggling.
As always, thanks for keeping these discussions civil, insightful and constructive!
"In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. ...6.7% of U.S. adults."
In saying "accomplish things", I'm not focusing on the issue(s)/problem(s)/etc that triggered the downward spiral. Those are often too difficult. Rather, I find it useful to accomplish something that's easy, and enjoyable. Sometimes that does involve making something, manually. Cooking. Repairing stuff. Whatever.
The other insight is that emotions reflect what I'm thinking about. Part of a downward spiral is thinking about what went wrong, how I screwed up, etc. And also, thinking about all the previous times I've failed, what's wrong with me, and how it's hopeless.
So I've trained myself to notice when I'm doing that. And now, that awareness always brings a smile to my face. Because it's funny how someone would get into such a stupid loop. Often there are epithets that come with that, classics involving Jesus, chain-link fences, and razor wire ;)
When You Break Your Leg, Walk It Off
I'm not saying that a poor diet or lack of nutrients will necessarily be the only or even the main cause of depression, but these factors could have an impact (sometimes a profound impact) on the severity or frequency of depression.
For most of my life I've had a pretty poor diet, and while I knew diet could affect one's mood, I really didn't realize how profound an effect it could have until poor health recently forced me to make drastic changes in my diet and to consider and study the potential effects of diet on mental and physical health.
What I learned was that many, many nutrient deficiencies could have very severe consequences on one's mental (not to mention physical) health -- including depression, dementia, and even death. Symptoms of a nutrient deficiency are not always obvious, and some of them take a long time to manifest -- so long that they kind of sneak up on you and you could almost feel like what you're experiencing is "normal" or just the way you are (ie. depressed, just because you have a negative outlook on life).
Once I improved my diet and started taking supplements for essential nutrients which my diet still lacked, I felt so much better, and have had much more energy than I'm used to, don't need as much sleep, and my mood and motivation have dramatically improved.
I now firmly believe that many people who suffer mental issues, including depression, may be malnourished or nutritionally deficient in some way. Taking one's diet seriously, reading up on it, and improving it could really change your life.
I've had first hand experience where making something or doing something makes me less sad. I've never been clinically depressed and those who are sometimes can't get out of bed. Making something might not be solution for someone who is clinically depressed.
What helped me slowly find my way out of that place was forcing myself to do those things regardless of whether I was perceiving enjoyment anymore + taking on a new hobby (coincidentally music). It took a lot of time but the things that made me enjoy it in the first place started to become more clear and I got over that slump, with a new interest to show for it.
The depression certainly hasn't disappeared completely but the fear of losing passion for certain things is more manageable given that I've gotten it back before. Not to minimize the negative impact of depression but the understanding of that fear has often pushed me harder towards progress than I would have pushed myself under normal circumstances.
Might not be the standard experience but this post still this resonated with me.
In 2011, I found a job of my dreams, but it ended in 2012, since then I began to took jobs that I'm not comfortable and I do not like just to provide for my family, it was hard and sad, and it lasted from 2012 to 2016. Now I'm happy I have a new job that I'm very comfortable with.
Depression is not new to me, I've experienced it since childhood, teenage period and throughout college. There's no OFF switch for it, the only way to turn it off is build strength and endurance for it, sooner or later it it will attack again, but it would be too weak to affect you.
A huge part of the problem is we think we need to be happy/succesfull/whatever and any discomfort/pain is a existential problem.
It's not. It's life. It's got ups and downs. Don't let the downs get you too down. Find joy when you can.
 This doesn't mean you have to just "be happy". But rather, recognize there is a problem and actively try to get help so next time you are more resilient.
2016 - I feel sad. It must be that I'm depressed, let me read more about depression so I'll know even how I fail in life, because everyone around me on social media is so much successful and happy.
1986 - I feel sad. Well that's life. Kills self six weeks later
In other words, it's not that people today are getting treatment for things that people in the past just knew how to live with; people today are getting treatment for things that people in the past died from. People drank themselves to death, or ODed on drugs, or put a rope around their neck, all because they couldn't calm the storm raging inside their head.
Feeling sad is part of life. Dealing with it requires practice. I think people did it a lot better before our age of needing to be happy all the time or worry something was wrong with us.
But, as someone who was actually depressed and that due to things that in retrospect don't really matter, I do think that if I had been more resilient I would have had an easier time.
1. talk to people who care about you - face to face at every meal if possible but at least at every lunch if not. Be around other people and interact with them. Join communities where performance is not needed but people are thankful if you just show up.
2. do small tiny things. Eg: buy and cook eggs and eat them, clean your apartment. As you do slightly bigger things, do things for other people. Send $10 to a charity online or to a watsi patient.
Its a constant struggle and its hard as hell. But small tiny steps and support from others help a lot.
- leaving your home
- talk to people
They switch your mind off some inner loop. As an ex loner that loop was my favorite mode, but abused you end up grumpy, acid, somehow depressed.
Just being on the move changes that. And talking to people even short polite chit chat will feed your brain with .. I don't know .. negative entropy ? external energy that refull your mind in more efficient ways that most your lonely activities, even those you love (music, painting, reading, programming).
I see a strong incentive to mislabel sadness as depression, as it releases the society and the individuals living in that society from the responsibility of actually taking care of people who aren't doing so well socially.
Just seeing them growing everyday, Give me some kinda of hope and makes me feel i'm not alone.
Its so easy to start with and so rewarding, Just get some pots and soil and start planting your own vegetable or flowers! I promise you'll be happiest person on earth when your chilli fruits!
You can try to make your own coffee/tobacco or medicinal herb if you have enough space!
It's good advice in general though. Having plants that depend on you to do something - even if that something is so simple as watering them - can mean the different between doing nothing on a day and doing one useful thing. And perhaps that one useful thing is enough to not have to write that day off as useless.
When you're happy and things are going well, there's no need for any external purpose for your life because living and experiencing it are their own purpose.
When things are going badly and you aren't happy, then you tend to start looking for ways to justify your existence, like maybe your life kind of sucks but it still has some higher-level meaning because you can still make something beautiful or that makes other people's lives better. I think a lot of good art came about in this way, and I think it's usually good for the creator of the art as well as the rest of us who are enjoying the things they created.
Helping people directly rather than through art is another thing that a person might do, but that's harder, especially when you're going through hard times yourself.
Of course it is quite possible to be prevented from creating art by depression, in which case other ways of dealing with it (such as seeking professional help) may be in order.
I feel good for the author that he found a way to battle his depression, but it's more of a luck thing, not a repeatable treatment.
so true man, so true
After all if depression was caused by external factors only wouldn't all poor people, ugly people, disabled people be depressed? Didn't the majority of the world always live in poverty? How would we have come so far if most people were depressed?
So the question is how can you truly adopt a positive mindset once you got a negative one? Doesn't that feel like self-deception?
Think of this in relation to thought crime, from 1984 by George Orwell. You say to yourself, "Okay, I am depressed. I have thoughts of suicide and in general, I am miserable 24/7. Let's stop"
What do you do when, untriggered, a mistake from your past or even a happy memory of what once was comes to the front of your mind and you begin to dwell on it?
Do you tell yourself "Okay, stop thinking about this now"?
It doesn't really work like that, especially when you don't have someone to talk to.
I've struggled with these things for some time, largely alone. For me and a lot of people I've come across, depression isn't just sadness, or immense sadeness.
Depression is hopelessness, dread, [lots of] anxiety, self loathing and loneliness.
Depression is wanting so badly for someone to help but the few that are willing can't since you're unable to articulate what you need because you don't even know.
Depression makes you feel isolated and different from all of the people around you, forces you to be withdrawn. You want to break out so badly but you can't, and at worst people (friends and strangers alike) actively avoid you because you seem so off. Conversations are ended abruptly, odd looks are given, and that just adds to all the stress.
So, when exposed to others successes, esp in areas we lack, all the time, we start to think something is wrogn with us.
Did the mods delete it or did the user?
More seriously, making things and having a sense of accomplishment was one of the dopamine-triggers I used in my new system for breaking bad habits: https://repla.xyz/
So two things:
1. There are lots of areas where I suck: I just happened to get lucky with one thing. The point is I don't focus on what I lack, rather I focus on what I've got.
2. Ekh. What is worthwhile art? Anyone who seems my stuff at home is amazed. It's a great ego boost. But, I'm not Picasso. So really what's worthwhile to you? An ego boost? Maybe there are better ways to get it?
Edit: I hope that doesn't sound patronising, I am assuming you are a beginner but of course you might just be someone with impossibly high standards