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If You're Often Angry or Irritable, You May Be Depressed (npr.org)
405 points by tuxguy 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 291 comments



This was precisely my wife's symptoms when we were first married. She was angry nearly all the time. She could hold it together in public, but at home it was miserable. She would go a full day at a time, alternatively not speaking, stomping around and throwing things, and yelling.

It took a long time for her to be correctly diagnosed. It wasn't clear to me that depression was the issue, because as discussed in the article, anger isn't usually associated with depression. And it wasn't clear to her either, because in her mind all of her anger was justified. Most of it was my fault.

I had to keep telling myself that, no, it wasn't my fault. I wish I had had a support group or something but I didn't know that such things existed.

Happily, she did eventually find a doctor who worked with her to get a correct diagnosis and figure out the right meds (in her case, a specific SSRI. But everyone is different). She is a thousand percent better now - she's back to being the woman I married. But without diagnosis and treatment, we would not be married today.

If you have frequent anxiety attacks accompanied by anger, violent or not, definitely consider depression as a possible cause. If you are living with someone with these symptoms, get yourself some support. If your partner's anger turns to violence, for your own wellbeing, leave. Even if you are a man, abused spouse centers should help you.


My wife put her foot down eventually and told me she wasn't going to be able to live with me any more after too many verbal angry outbursts. I received an ADHD diagnosis as a child but was never treated. I lived with the extreme anger all my life and only recently sought treatment as an adult. Doing that was really hard after a lifetime of people telling me it was simply a matter of adjusting my attitude and that I brought all my troubles on myself.

I'm finally on treatment after 45 years of that unending anger. It is definitely depression mixed with ADHD and anxiety. I'll have to see a therapist about potential PTSD issues. Adult depression can be a nasty mix of various issues and treating only one pillar can leave the rest to continue.

Seeking the help from a doctor was almost impossible. It took me years to get up the nerve to mention it. Why? Because it was all my fault, I had been told this so for long that I was embarrassed. What if he tells me it's just a matter of eating right and that I'm just a regular guy? I was mortified of being rejected for treatment. Thankfully that didn't happen.

It can be very hard for people to seek treatment, the stigma of not being able to perform like everybody else around you, all the while being told to just cheer up, think positive, be happy, you can do it! It's crushing.


Yes. If you break your leg, that's an injury, and you see a doctor. If you get pneumonia, you're sick and you need antibiotics.

But if your brain isn't working right that's a moral failure.


I dislike modern notions of abdicating responsibility for one's own actions by pointing to other problems.

I believe we're all personally responsible for our output. You can have the worst input in the history of mankind - and this should generate sympathy, understanding and a desire to help - but your output is still entirely your responsibility.

The are circumstances where someone can be considered incapable of reasonable output or the reasonable processing of input, but these circumstances are the exception to the rule.


That's much easier said than done. Depression messes with a lot of systems and it's hard for anyone to recognize in themselves. If it was so easy to control, people wouldn't need treatment. It's so serious precisely because it interferes with daily functioning and it can't easily be controlled. This seems very narrow-minded in regards to the ripple effect that depression has on so many emotional systems. You're asking people to juggle a hundred things. It's just not feasible.

Now, this totally depends on how you define "reasonable" output, but it sounds a lot like telling someone with depression to just stop feeling depressed.


You're right that it is much, much easier said than done. Getting to the bottom of _why_ you're behaving the way you are almost always takes a lot of thoughtful introspection, and often, meaningful and honest conversation with trustworthy, wise and knowledgable people around you. It also requires you to allow yourself to be vulnerable, humble and honest - none of which are easy by any stretch of the imagination.

Anecdotally, the pursuit of truly understanding your own intentions, behaviour and true 'self' is, I believe, a worthy lifetime pursuit that continuously yields surprises and benefits - some of those benefits being immeasurable.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like you're guarding against and concerned that empathy, sympathy, understanding and genuine care seem to be set aside when you focus, detrimentally, on the responsibility of the individual - even when that individual may be adversely affected by their circumstance.

I want to be clear that I would agree with you that when you set aside the concerns and context of the individual in the rigorous pursuit of justice or recompense then you do a harmful injustice to that person. True care and love need to be shown as a counterbalance to objective requirements and observations. If you take one without the other then, ultimately, everyone loses.

However, I believe it is important to specify there is a crucial distinction to be made between personal suffering, weakness and struggle and ones responsibility for their own actions, thoughts and words.

To put it another way, the things going on in your life as an individual do not, in any objective way, modify, absolve or exonerate the responsibility you must take for your choices in actions, thoughts and words.

Again in other terms, the inputs of your various life experiences, the proclivities inherent in your own physical makeup and the character flaws present in your nature as an individual do not, in any objective way, modify, absolve or exonerate the responsibility you must take for your actions, thoughts and words.

I've suffered my fair share of depression - I still grapple with the long-lasting effects of it. I can also attest to anger being one of the many things that were exacerbated by my depression.

I needed people around me to show understanding and care for my situation, and to be aware of where I might have particular struggles (short-temperedness, anxiety, conspiracy, neediness, apathy, etc).

They did show loving understanding, but that never absolved me of my objective responsibilities to myself or them. That is why I can say that my depression was extremely difficult and harrowing, but I am genuinely sorry for the manner in which I treated others as it was, objectively, inexcusable. That doesn't mean they didn't excuse many of my behaviours, they did, but their acts of long-suffering, graciousness and kindness didn't absolve my personal responsibility for what I chose to do.

I was never asked to stop feeling depressed - I was gently cared for, but I was also never told that my actions, thoughts or words were justified by my circumstance. I'm truly thankful for that.

My hope is that, as a society, we're all keenly aware of that balance of personal responsibility and gentle kindness and understanding. I personally feel like there is a significant portion of our society that justifies away the former by pointing to circumstance.


Childhood issues with emotional abuse/bullying can & do cause emotional systems to become unbalanced though.

It is not a matter of pure free will. If our emotional brain has been trained to scream at us with anxiety at a specific situation or if it is constantly on high alert it becomes tiring to maintain composure and outbursts may provide an outlet.

Now, a person can recognise this issue and visit a therapist to seek help with their emotional issues. But it first requires them to have recognition of the problem. I do not think it's an exceptional case where people are oblivious of their emotional brain causing them to have an irrational reaction to a situation. In fact I think it is quite common.


It's really about what's effective. For a lot of people who deal with depression, feeling like people are blaming them makes things way worse. In that sense, blame simply doesn't work to bring about a different outcome, even if someone seems entirely culpable from a common viewpoint.


> You can have the worst input in the history of mankind

What if you have not the worst input but the worst hardware to process it?


Maybe we just need to reframe it a bit. If you have strep and you don't get help & take care of it, that's a moral failure (you'll get other people sick). If you have mental illness and you don't get help & take care of it, that's the moral failure.


It would be nice if that analogy worked, but there is no psychological equivalent of antibiotics and although psychological and psychiatric treatments can be helpful, they often aren’t, and equally people actually do frequently recover from mental health issues without treatment.


Well, with at least some mental illnesses, e.g. hearing voices, the illness in part is that you think the voices are real. It doesn't occur to you that you might need the help of a psychiatrist. The whole thing develops out of trying to make sense of what you assume are real voices. Which is impossible, and drives you nuts making the attempt. [That happened to me, for a couple of years.]


> If you have mental illness and you don't get help & take care of it, that's the moral failure.

No. Mental illness directly impinges on the executive functions of the brain, which are what one uses to discern reality, weigh options, make plans, and motivate action.

You are simply calling mental illness a moral failure.


>But if your brain isn't working right that's a moral failure.

See? That's that shit - right there - that makes mental health so stigmatised that people won't seek help.


Completely agree. To be clear, I'm not expressing this opinion. I'm agreeing with the parent that it's all too often the view of society, and that it actively prevents people from seeking help.


That's exactly what OP was saying.


One thing I learned on my own is that it's very easy to lose track of what 'normal' is. You slip slowly into different spectrum of emotions without really knowing why. When your mind is not at peace, stress/struggle will leak out in any shape be it anger, negativity, somatic onset (psoriasis, spasms) ..

I believe strongly that we ought to aim for positivity and if we recognize something's not right, acknowledge it, and don't accept it as an absolute unquestionable reality.


My layperson's understanding of depression is that it's your brain lying to you. My wife's perception of things that happened to her were often 180 degrees different from mine. She would take compliments I would give her, process them through the “depression” filter, and they would come out the other end as insults. You could actually watch it happen; there was a perceptible mental lag as the filters worked. To this day, her memory of those times is very different from mine.

It's not just that you lose track of normal, although that is certainly true. But it's also that you can't trust your own sensory perceptions. You are viewing the world through distorting lenses.


I've noticed that (warning: gross generalization incoming) women seem to communicate differently, on average, and tend to read between the lines to see if there is any hidden or implied meaning in a statement (negative or positive). Basically, there's an entire side channel of deeper communication that I'm much less capable of decoding or using.


honestly, I had this kind of reactions even when I was "happy" .. I'd say it's more paranoid trait than depression but this is probably all very linked together.


My last girlfriend was a lot like this. She ended up dumping me because I changed my mind about moving in with her, because I wasn't very happy at home with her. I think she's probably seriously depressed, but hides it with anger. I have no idea, unfortunately, how to help her, and don't think I can; she refused to even communicate with me after the break-up (which was by text message).


I had a similar experience with an ex-girlfriend. She was verbally abusive and sometimes even physically. I tried to break up with her multiple times but ended up being gaslight to stay.

One time she removed the axel from my front bike tire hoping that I would crash and get injured when I went over a bump. She absolutely refused to get help even though I offered to take her.


Just chiming in to say that as a biker, the front axle thing is a horrible thing to do.


Yeah, I was really paranoid after that. I came out after class and she walked up to me and handed me the axle. I will never understand someone who has that much anger toward their SO.

If in her mind all of the anger was justified, why did she ever go looking for a doctor and a diagnosis?


Two things. What she says was the most motivating one is oddly prosaic.

She is a veterinarian. She has loved animals her entire life, considers them her guardian angels. We had finally moved into a rental house that allowed pets, so we got a dog, an Australian Shepherd rescue dog who turned out to be the best dog who ever lived. I took her all the way through advanced obedience classes. I don't really have the words to express what a wonderful animal she was; in my mind, she was the Platonic ideal of a mother sheepdog. She also had distinct ideas of propriety, a phrase that could only make sense if you have ever had a female Aussie, and as a consequence was about as low maintenance as a high energy dog could be.

One day my wife looked at the dog lying next to her on the bed and thought “You're nothing but trouble, I wish you were dead”. The next second she realized that that thought was so unlike her, and so different from the reality of our dog, that it was clear something was wrong in her head.

The other was that at the same time we had had a daughter, a beautiful baby girl. My wife started taking her anger out on the baby as well as me. To be clear, this was not physical - but she resented our daughter crying and so on, and was brusque and short tempered with her. She was introspective enough to recognize that this was a problem.

So some combination of those two experiences acted as sort of an intervention.


Thanks for sharing those very poignant experiences. I can personally relate to having an emotional response to something that I then recognize as somehow askew. In fact, given the complexity of the human emotional apparatus, I'm betting we've all had the experience of a mismatched response through various insecurities, injuries, etc, that manifest as projection and other defense mechanisms.

The key to emotional health then, may come down to a question of degree and/or recognition when thinking is askew.


Happy you made it through all of this, but damn that sounds like a rough period.

(Postnatal depression might have made it even worse, vis-a-vis the baby).

Good that everything turned out fine! (Y)


I'm afraid of recommending psychiatry's shotgun approach of throwing tricyclic antidepressant meds at someone until they subjectively feel an improvement in their quality of being from their baseline depressed state. Getting there requires taking all sorts of serotonin/dopaminergic etc neurotransmitter flooding/inhibiting drugs that made me feel like a lifeless zombie that I only recovered from by quitting cold turkey and enforcing a strict routine of eating clean, 7-8 hrs of sleep, mediation, hydrating, and minimal tech distractions

Quitting cold turkey put me through withdrawal hell, Google "brain zaps" if you want to read up on what that torture feels like.

I think in the future we will look back at the field of psychiatry medication today like it was medieval/primitive times.

With that being said, if it has the possibility to help you then by all means try it, but don't be afraid to jump ship if you can find a natural way to rebalance your brain. If only I knew that path existed before getting on meds.


> tricyclic antidepressant

these are different than SSRIs and not very frequently prescribed nowadays.


I have had to deal with inexplicable anger and irritability for a long time. It is possible this traces back to being misdiagnosed and prescribed 5 antibiotic recipes back-to-back as a child.

Long and tedious story short, when I cut milk, gluten/short carbs/whatever pesticide they use for wheat, and excess sugar from e.g. prefabbed food from my diet I gained 10kg and my life basically turned around. Turns out having your gut constantly inflamed is bad for your mental health.

I have missed so many opportunities because of this. It's not right.

ED: Apparently I need to point out that one possible cause may be that antibiotics killed the gut bacteria I needed to process milk, wheat and sugar. If so, this malady could be solved with a less revolting alternative to fecal transplants.


mental health and gut bacteria seem to be heavily correlated. Anecdotally, if I don't eat sugary "reward" food I tend to feel better. That is also why I adopted intermittent fasting. I tend to fell better mentally if I fast 24h once a week.


> if I don't eat sugary "reward" food I tend to feel better

Within the past few years (I'm 48), eating a lot of sugary foods would leave me feeling like I was hungover the next day. Headaches were especially common 12-18 hours after lots of sugar.


You can have yeast growing in your gut too; your own personal micro-brewery.


This can be a vicious cycle, and one which I'm actively struggling to break. I feel terrible because I eat junk food, and I eat junk food because I feel terrible. "Just stop eating junk food" is easier said than done in this case, unfortunately :|


How exactly do you fast? Is it like the extreme fasting of muslims where you don't eat or drink anything from dawn to dusk, or is it like the hindu fasting where you only eat fruits and vegetables?


The best and most scientific take i've seen on this is by Dr. Jason Fung in "The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets" (https://www.amazon.com/Obesity-Code-Unlocking-Secrets-Weight...)

He specifically references Muslim/Buddhist/Jewish fasts but clarifies that for the purposes of intermittent fasting, water,tea,coffee are OK.


When people refer to intermittent fasting, they generally mean a water fast which means you're not eating anything and only drinking water for your fasting session.


water and coffee only, from dinner to dinner


If I remember right, drinking coffee causes your body to lose water faster - so drinking coffee and water seem kind of contradictory.


While caffeine is a mild diuretic, it’s a myth that drinking coffee (or tea) causes dehydration – something I only learned in the last year or two. The BBC has a decent article on this topic: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140402-are-coffee-and-tea-...


I have heard about fasting being helpful... Perhaps I should seek out some vegans to one-up to motivate me. :b


fasting is bad for your gall bladder. fast with care!


thanks for the heads up, I'll be on the lookout for symptoms. I do believe though that the benefits far outweigh the risk in this case.


Interesting... I had the same experience recently.

I took 3 (increasingly more powerful) antibiotics in a short period until the docs found one that worked.

Then I spent the following days feeling super stressed/anxious for no apparent reason, but figured out it could be a side-effect of the meds. It got better though.

Also, since then, I can't stand cow milk or cheese. Learned that goat cheese is fine, for some reason.


> Learned that goat cheese is fine, for some reason

My wife gets itchy (enough that she needs antihistamines) if she has cow's milk or cow's cheese. Goat's milk? Not a problem.

Allergies are weird.


Did you experience abdominal pain before cutting these items out of your diet?


I had pain everywhere. I thought it was normal.


Wow I'm happy for you that you were able to find relief via dietary changes


It's something of a last resort. Wheat and milk are so cheap that they put it as an additive in everything, so when I buy groceries it's like I'm weeding through isles and isles of poison.

It's like I have returned to a hunter-gatherer way of life, where eating the wrong berries can be a disaster.


Glyphosate?


Who knows. When I eat too much wheat I feel like I have a hangover for two days. Over here they started adding selenium to the soil in 60s, and my grandmother tells me no one complained about bread making them sick before that.

Perhaps it's that additive that makes tractor fuel oil exhaust blue, or too much selective breeding without thought to nutrition, or some kind of preservation practice which 99% of people don't have a problem with while the remaining 1% didn't seem important to someone with a rubber stamp.


Where is "over here" for you?

The only place I've found which has wheat which doesn't make me feel icky is Italy. And the only thing I can figure out about it is fructans (they have a finicky milling process), which seems insane.

I've been all over, and as I don't actually have celiac disease (but a very direct and obvious reaction to something in wheat; sleepy internal itchy feeling) I always try the local breads. Ukraine, Russia, Spain, etc etc all gives me the heebies. Italy's bread and pizzas mostly don't.


Interesting. For me it's a probablistic scale:

Coppenhagen: 100% of the what makes me feel icky immediately.

New York, London, Tel-Aviv: About 50% to feel icky.

Rome, Paris: About 25% to feel icky, usually not very icky.

Iceland: Can eat as many and as much wheat products as I want, feel great.

(Only listing places I spent enough time in to have reasonable statistics)

Following the Icelandic epihphany, I've started supplementing with sulphur (currently at 10g MSM/day and rising), and it makes otherwise-unbearable wheat much more bearable, but that's not the entire story.

Iceland has sulpher everywhere (drinking water, air, every food ..) but also has PH 8.8 drinking water - that's going to be my next experiment.


I generally drink a bunch of wine when I'm in Italy, so maybe it is the sulfur!

I was in Iceland recently, but there were so many rotten basking shark type things to eat, I don't remember having any wheat there. Also figured they probably got it from the US.


Finland.

I sometimes try import foods, thinking I might discover the missing piece of the puzzle. I'll keep a look out for Italian!


Keep your eyes peeled for "doppio zero" flour. Seems to be the highest quality.


Not the highest quality, just the most finely ground.


Or the 1% was unknown


An awful lot is being written about it these days. I hope we come to the root of the issue, whatever it may be.


The more you know about the world and tech especially, the more you will get depressed, IMO, maybe I'm wrong.

Humans in general are pretty shitty, driven mostly by self-interest. I guess there are people driven by doing good but most people are capable of doing terrible things, especially when in a group.

I do suffer from existential depression, I'm generally pretty happy, but as I learn more and live longer my outlook on the world gets worse. I did therapy, it was nice to talk about things I would not bring up with friends/SO.

I tried meds but side-effects generally suck and the whole medical industry in the US raises my blood pressure.

Edit: I would still encourage anyone feeling unhappy/depressed to try all the options meds/therapy/meditation/w.e before accepting defeat.


Your comment aligns with an old HN comment that I have saved that resonated with me:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16402387

I'd also recommend people feeling this way to read The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. It helped me.


Interesting comment. Some research supports at least some of it:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141119125105.h...

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/depressions-evolu...

While it may explain depressive moods or mindsets for many people, there's also a lot of supporting evidence for long-term, chronic, biochemical causes.


It might just be me, but it feels like that comment indirectly addresses losing one's religious beliefs as they get older. There's probably too many confounding factors, but I've been curious if there are any noticeable differences in depression frequency amongst irreligious folks that had religious upbringing. It seems it's something that is difficult for people to talk about or study.


Thanks for sharing these. The comment very much resonates with me. There are some other resonating comments in these threads. It feels good to read those; I feel less alone.

Those nicely articulated thoughts might honestly help me deal with my episodes.

I should take a look at the book too.


Thank you for linking to the book, and the previous comment.


Thanks for sharing this comment. I do have a bit of trouble with the last paragraph. Am I understanding correctly that the author claims depression is neccessary for building a better model of the world?

I'm sure depression has caused me to think about things and get a better understanding of them, but is it neccessary? What am I currently building a better model of?


In the beginning the author of the comment said that a broken model results in a loss of confidence which then prevents us from acting on that model and forces us to figure out a better one. They're saying that's what depression is - the downtime when you're supposed to play it safe and re-analyze the data and build a better fitting model. I can see how it can be better to not act on a broken model in case it could result in some harm, but it also stops us from gathering new data that might be important.


When I had depression, I stared into the wall tired of everything. Everything was pointless and everybody annoying. Just about only thing I understood better was depressive state itself.

It ended when I got healthy and the only inside I have is more understanding for depressive people.


The comment you linked concisely explains an idea I've "circled the drain" on for quite a while. Thank you.


Hah, looks like I bought this book back in 2011 and never read it! Time to give it a go.


>The more you know about the world and tech especially, the more you will get depressed, IMO, maybe I'm wrong.

The problem is that you can't say that today -- depression has to be all about BS "chemical imbalances", and never about the sorry state of the world and/or people's personal affairs.

Even something as simple as artificial light or enforced working hours, and commutes are nothing like people have evolved for millennia to live with -- even less so screens, sedentary work, constant barrage of psychological manipulation through ads and tv and social media, and so on. Add to that all kinds of crazy rules we impose to our lives, and societal pressures unheard of in older times (where the main concerns if you've made it to adulthood were mostly getting by with enough food), and its a wonder not everybody is depressed.


FWIW mild happiness, a six or seven on a scale of ten, seems to be the default human condition whether they live in a palace or a mud hut. So it's not hard to imagine something unusual might be going on if you personally report a two out of ten.


> The problem is that you can't say that today -- depression has to be all about BS "chemical imbalances"

Really? I googled "what causes depression", first link:

"It's often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn't capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn't spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It's believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression."

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-dep...


>Really? I googled "what causes depression", first link

So, even the first link agrees that "it's often said".

Now add how many times depression is treated immediately with drugs as a physiological disease of the individual.


>Humans in general are pretty shitty, driven mostly by self-interest.

Water takes the path of least resistance,

Humans take the path of least expected effort expenditure to accomplish their desires

Both are just doing as nature does, being themselves. Why be sad that every person will do the least amount of work to satisfy their desires, when it is an inevitability, but your sadness is not.


Not all humans. That’s the big kicker for me. A lot of the shit is being generated by a minority, and there is another minority who are genuinely good people That, IMO, makes it harder to accept the fact those who do generate the shit are also “a natural part of humankind”.


Except we're supposed to be intelligent.

Early on in my life I felt something, I never get angry at nature, no matter harmful, but disappointment by other beings hurts deeply. Nature doesn't pretend to choose, it just is. That made me a lot more at ease with objects than people.


> Except we're supposed to be intelligent.

I don't think we are.

We sure as hell can be. Seeing bright minds at work is a special kind of inspiration, and its own mental turn-on for me. People aspiring to do well by their desires and talents – that's quite a picture. But it only happens when effort is put forth to surround ourselves – and others around us – with the kind of attitude we seek to promote.

Imagine punishing a child for not seeing things the way you do, from the height of the years of experience and the education you'd received. Imagine promoting literacy when you're yet to read a book meaningfully. Imagine moving others to start exercising more, while you're raiding the kitchen every couple of hours for another snack or two.

I don't think we're supposed to be intelligent. I think it's in our best interests to be, but I also see the effort to put forth if you seek to improve someone's livelihood. Not against their will, obviously: this much you can't do even if you try really hard – but encouraging them through the natural flow of things, setting an example, or even writing better guides.

Perhaps we don't choose, either. For all I know, we might as well be only semi-autonomous, or have no free will to speak of. Maybe we just are.


Being capable of intelligence and being intelligent are not necessarily the same thing. Humans are social animals first, and logical or rational animals second. Our decisions are influenced heavily by (perceived) social factors and self pride/ego such that office politics and pride often end up overriding objective logic. The Dilbert comic strip is close to a documentary in my observation; only slightly exaggerated.


> Being capable of intelligence and being intelligent are not necessarily the same thing.

My argument was against what I saw as a notion that human beings must always express the intelligence we all undoubtably possess, simply because we do. I don't think that's the case. It's not about using straight logic, either: it's about empathy, and the emotions that influence (or even underline) our decisions, and the bigger picture, and whether being angry right now is worth our time...

I think we all can be like that. I think we're not encouraged enough to act that way.

There are certainly selfish motives to every single one of us – and yet, some of us are superb at overriding those motives for the sake of a better act, some struggle to the point of giving up, and others yet barely even tap into the altruistic motives.

I think it all has to do, in half, with the environment we're in. Generally speaking, fear promotes fear, and empathy promotes empathy. There's about 40 to 60% to do with genetics (the number I've seen was 55%), but that much we can't control.

We can control our environments, to an extent.


One might consider it somewhat condescending but I find that I rarely have emotional reactions to people I don't know. Only people close to me, people whom I've come to have expectations, can bring out my emotional side. The rest, I chalk it up to forces of nature.

Terrorism? Force of nature. Someone being shitty on public transit? Force of nature. Littering? Force of nature.

We can change our environment though and that changes the genre of nature we see around us. So I concentrate on that.


It is completely possible to eschew those feelings of expectations from other people as well. It makes life much easier.

All suffering comes from a desire unfulfilled. To desire others to act as you would and not as they would is to set yourself up for disappointment.


stoicism I see

I think that's too cynical for me these days; we love relationships; it's just that our culture didn't nurture our nature


> Only people close to me, people whom I've come to have expectations, can bring out my emotional side.

That's the key to happy life. Don't have expectations even towards people close to you. Appreciate good things you get. Ignore bad. If there's too much bad, move. Also seek people who don't expect things from you.


Intelligent and ethical are orthogonal categories. Intelligence does not stop greed, hate nor pleasure from mistreating others. They just makes such people more effective.


Plato's lure


true, but I believe ethics is partially wired in us (except sociopaths and similar conditions), but it's a bit like a muscle


I have to say, this is the best way I've seen this explained. And it takes no sides. Good comment


Thank you for your kind words. My words were mildly plagiarized from Henry George, author of Progress and Poverty. He is where the idea of people fulfilling their desires with the minimum exertion came from in my comment. I also love myself some stoic reading which ties in nicely with Mr. George's theory of minimum effort.

Progress and Poverty is a great book and I am constantly stopping and thinking how well supported his ideas are.


Water doesn't have the capacity for cruelty.

The world is also a much nicer place to live for everyone when people behave in pro-social ways, whether or not that is our nature.


It may not have the volition for cruelty. It certainly has the capacity.


I just made HN account to reply to this, as I feel like I suffer with "existential depression" too. I had never heard of that before, so thanks for commenting.

As I get older, the more I read, it just seems to be always doom and gloom. The obviousness that's occurring to things around us. I'm a natural born worrier anyway, but as I get older I think more about "existence". My wife and I plan to have kids, but then I'll lay there awake at night and part of me thinks, why? I don't think we're heading to a particularly nice place.


Do you live in the US? That's probably a big part of the problem. Everything in the US is doom and gloom, and everyone in the US is horribly paranoid. People are constantly paranoid about someone attacking them, and kids aren't allowed to run around outside because "someone might kidnap them". People that do get a visit from the police and CPS for "child abandonment".

If you're planning to have kids, doing it in the US is not something I'd recommend unless you can afford a full-time nanny. It's just not a country that's fit for raising children in any more. Other developed nations offer much healthier environments for raising a family.


You actually hit it nail on the head. I'm a British guy who married an American woman and I've been in the US about 3 years now. I live in Gary, IN (the nice beach community, south of Lake Michigan) but the I hear the daily horror stories of things that occur here. I doesn't bother me too much, I think shit happens everywhere and we're good people (as in, we're not looking for trouble), and I was raised to have my guard up (out of sight/out of mind etc). But, I think you're right. I've never felt more doom/gloomy since I moved here, and I literally have the best life I've ever had.

I plan on having kids here, but hopefully moving back to the UK at some point, to benefit of our healthcare, schooling, etc, but we'll see.


I've seen YouTube videos of American expats coming back home and saying the one big thing they noticed, after spending significant time in someplace like Europe, was how utterly paranoid Americas are. I've felt this myself just after having a short vacation out of the country. It's not really unsafe here (unless you're in downtown Baltimore or Detroit or something), but everyone is just so paranoid that it feels like you're living in a war zone.

You should definitely move back to the UK if you have kids. The education alone is worth it: American public schools are absolutely horrendous, and the worst in the developed world. The healthcare is also an important factor.


I'm not surprised by the paranoia. I think it's a natural reaction to the disgusting state of America, one which encourages a kill-or-be-killed mentality.

There is very little of a safety net if you fall through the cracks (and the safety net built up during the 20th century is rapidly being torn down). Health care costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy in America. And if you can't afford your rent/mortgage and don't have any family, well, you're screwed, you're homeless now. At least with your job you have some sense of control over that, you can work harder and better, but that doesn't always matter either. But the fact that you can lose everything over a health issue, that may be (and often is) due to no fault of your own, is obviously going to make people paranoid. It makes you feel entirely powerless and completely at the whim of an unjust system. I went to the ER for chest pains the other day, and I have health insurance, and the bill was $2500. Luckily I can afford that, but how many people could not? The system is basically screaming at you "just die already, we don't care about you."

All of these things encourage a state of fear, where we are all this close to being knocked down into destruction. I think paranoia is a natural reaction to our state of affairs, but obviously everyone handles it differently. Some even thrive in it, because they enjoy that level of brutal competition.


Maybe, but as one who grew up in this country, I can say that this state of paranoia simply did not exist to this extent decades ago. Personally, I think it happened after 9/11. People just weren't like this back in the 80s and 90s, and many of those factors were, if anything, worse than they are now. At least now, with ObamaCare, you aren't totally screwed on pre-existing conditions. And if you go back before the New Deal, or into the Gilded Age, things really were dog-eat-dog back then with zero safety net, but middle-class Americans weren't generally paranoid back then.


I'd also like to point out that the crime rates were a LOT worse back in the 1970s, and have been steadily falling ever since then. There's even a theory that leaded gasoline is to blame. Anyhow, even with worse street crime back in the 70s-80s, Americans simply weren't paranoid back then like they are now. Back then, kids routinely ran around by themselves with no adult supervision, and this is now unheard of in suburbia, even though the crime rates are a small fraction of what they were back then, and kidnappings were never a common thing.


> worst in the developed world

Current government policy in the UK is trying desperately to make the UK public schools steal that title.


I don't follow education policy so I'm not sure what you're referring to here, but I'd be curious to hear what you think the government's motivation is for "trying desperately" to do this.

I mean, accidentally wrecking education while trying to do something else is perfectly plausible, but deliberately wrecking education is kind of a strong claim.


American public schools are fine if you live where they aren't hollowed out by a weak tax base.


A weak tax base and/or nonparticipatory parents would do it.


Hey,

I was also born in EU but moved to US with parents. I feel as living in EU is much chiller and the pace is slower. I also feel as humans have better rights in some of the countries.

I live in a upper class suburb, which is nice. However, I too would like to move back to EU, but as SE I can make a bit more in the US. I might try getting a remote gig maybe that will allow me to move. But is is hard when you have family in the US.


I recently saw this series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y97Ywl7RtUw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d1ibtOVImg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSVlPlnB8wI

which is an interesting explanation for part of this issue.


I'm in Australia.

Houses are too expensive to buy an actual family home, even with a "good job". The government is all about spying and distracting and short-term thinking and isn't doing anything positive to improve actual living conditions for the majority at all.

Everything is going to hell in a handbasket, and it seems to be accelerating. Australia used to be a great country.

I'm not having kids and marooning them on this sinking ship.


Wow. Bigoted much? That is such a prejudiced view of the US.


What "US" are you talking about?

There are 50 states, all of whom have very different attitudes and values, and within those are thousands of counties, cities, towns, and unincorporated areas where nothing you wrote applies.


Most of those small towns and unincorporated areas are useless for someone who makes a living in the tech industry. It doesn't matter how nice a place is; if you can't get good-paying work there, it's not a place you can reasonably live.

Face the facts: the tech jobs are mostly all in a handful of metro areas, where everything I said is completely true. And it's a completely reasonable assumption that the vast majority of people reading my comment work in the tech industry.


I'm in the tech industry in one of those metro areas, and I grew up in the midwest.

Your comment has literally no basis in reality, and your follow-up defense to it has even less. There are good paying tech jobs all over "flyover country" that you discount -- the cost of living is also much lower. One can often work out a situation where their quality of life is better in those areas because of the low cost of living and lack of need to commute like we do in the "metro areas".


Flyover country is full of Trump voters, has no cultural events (unless you consider tractor pulls to be "cultural"), has locals who are generally very religious, and there's zero public transit there. It doesn't compare in any way to the large metro areas. The weather can be really brutal in the midwest too.


You should really educate yourself about what you denigrate before you do it. The culture in "flyover country" is different. It's not non-existent. In fact, in many ways there is far greater diversity throughout the midwest than in your metros -- not everyone votes or thinks the way you want them to think in "flyover country", they tend to be pretty independent.


I grew up in the South, so I know very well what the "culture" in rural America is like. It's not something to be celebrated.

Furthermore, you cannot argue that flyover country is full of Trump voters. The voting records are quite clear about that: those states all voted red in 2016.


The culture in the midwest is something you personally dislike. That doesn't make it any less relevant, and simply amplifies how unaware you are of the diversity that exists throughout the midwest, west, and south in the non-coastal regions.

And it was the rest of the non-flyover states that voted for him that put him over the top to win, so your point is moot. There are Trump voters everywhere except your echo chambers, and even there it's likely there are many of them you don't know about.


Different when they consider one another, but not so different to an outsider that has seen places.


Many view "the US" as a homogenous place, culture, and group of people.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

And I've spent many years living overseas as well as having grown up in the midwest and now living in one of the largest metro areas in the US.


>Many view "the US" as a homogenous place, culture, and group of people.

There are differences in the ways of life between NY and South Dakota, or SF and Alabama, or Denver and New Orleans, but there's also a distinct common national culture and character. Poverty levels, jobs, city vs rural etc change, but culturally all those places are more similar to one another compared to a different country.

France is not homogenous either, in the pedantic sense, but in the same we discuss here it is.


I think it used to be that way.

Culturally today, the difference between the metro areas and the "flyover country" is increasing to the point that people make silly comments like the gp post that betray a total lack of understanding of the rest of the country.

There are some common themes -- but they're becoming less and less common.


Check out Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It presents a compelling case that many of us (westerners) misjudge the state of the world.


Agreed. The average human is illogical. It's not easy for Vulcans to live among Ferengies. I don't claim to be "mostly right", but I do claim to use and be able to produce a logical train of thought for recommending courses of actions. I can write it out in detail if and when requested.

However, few are really interested in a logical justification: they usually use office politics and their "gut" to decide. Sorry, but most guts are not very bright nor accurate in my experience.

I've decided it's best to join them instead of fight them because humans are social animals above all else. But, it's not easy to transition at all. I think I was born on the wrong planet.


You think others are being illogical when they make decisions that don’t appear logical to you. However a more logical conclusion is that others are acting in a logical way and you lack all the information they have about the decision.


That may or may not be true, but I cannot tell because they don't tell me: they just do, and often get it wrong by my observation. It often turns out they over-focus on a few narrow pet factors.

Good decisions require being curious: what are others' opinions on this, and if they are wrong, why are their opinions wrong? It takes debate to get to the bottom of thinking.


People are constantly constructing internal narratives to explain their actions. From the perspective of the narrator, with a life’s worth of context, those actions fit into the narrative in a perfectly logical way. From the perspective of others who lack that context, those actions can seem illogical. Maybe you really are more logical than the people around you, but on the other hand you can’t read minds - maybe you can’t simulate the brains of the people you meet with sufficient accuracy to reconstruct their internal logic.


I'm willing to share my reasoning and logic with anybody who asks, and will refine it if it lacks clarity. I enjoy having my logic tuned by other minds; it makes me even MORE logical to be challenged, even if it hurts my pride in the short-term. Others are not so open and don't want their thinking process challenged. I don't know why, other than pride, ego, or office politics. If you know why, please tell me. Don't be shy: share it, people!


We’ve never met, but from what you’ve said in this thread, it sounds like you have a low opinion of the people around you. You’re good at finding flaws. That’s a valuable skill, but when you direct that fault-finding toward other people, they will become defensive.

It’s rarely productive to ask someone that was wrong, why did you do that? You may have steel skin, but for most people, that feels like an attack. The person you’re questioning can perceive in your body language and tone of voice the “he’s just another illogical idiot” thought that’s running through your mind. The basic instinct when faced with an attack is fight or flight. Productive adult humans have usually learned that diffusing conflict by disengaging works better than fighting back. This means that you are unlikely to get the answer that you are looking for.

This doesn’t mean you can’t question people and find out why they do what they do! The importing thing is to be nice about it.

Don’t think: I wonder if this illogical idiot can come up with an explanation for his bullshit?

Think: It seems like this thing X Bob made contributed to a problem with thing Y and that’s making me angry at Bob - but I bet Bob thought a lot about thing X when he made it, but he didn’t think about thing Y, and now he knows thing Y is broken and he feels guilty about it. Why don’t I ask him about what he likes about working on X so I can appreciate the good ideas he had, and maybe tell him a little about what I like about how Y works so he knows not to break it next time.

Communication is hard. It requires two brains that are full of different memories and habits to sync with one another. You really have to want to understand the other person. I’d go further and say you need to care about them, and know what they care about, for your interactions with them to make sense and be satisfying for the both of you. I’ve found that intentionally caring about the people around me improves my relationships with those people and makes life more enjoyable.


Re: You may have steel skin, but for most people, that feels like an attack. The person you’re questioning can perceive in your body language and tone of voice...Communication is hard...

You are right, communicating is indeed hard. Achieving clarity, brevity, and social "friendliness" at the same time is a multi-skill that most people get wrong: they tend to do one or two well, but rarely all three.

I will readily agree I often get the "social math" wrong, being it body language, tone of voice, etc. Maybe thousands of hours of training with a personal coach could "fix it", but that would cost around $100,000. For one, I find it hard to process the social math rules in my mind and focus on the topic at hand at the same time. My brain is not powerful enough to run both tasks simultaneously. The social side would have to be turned into a reflex so as to not interfere with the logical side's processing, and that typically takes lots of repetition training.

Dammit Jim, I'm a logical geek, not an actor!


I’m not telling you to pretend to be nice, I’m telling you to actually be nice. You won’t have to hide those feelings of contempt because you won’t be feeling them. Before you start the conversation, get your brain in a place where you like the person you are talking to.

I used to be convinced I was autistic, I had a really hard time connecting with people. The median number of friends I had in my childhood was one. I might be on the spectrum, I definitely behave in a quirky way and I’m bad at small talk. But since I started taking the antidepressant I’ve had more positive thoughts about other people, which makes me nicer. Suddenly it’s easy to make friends. I went to a bar on Saturday and made a friend and he invited me to hang out at his place tonight. If you had told me that would happen five years ago I would have laughed in your face (or cried inside). Now it’s normal.

Most people want to like people. You have to give them reasons to not like you. If they sense aggression from you, that’s the best reason for them to not like you. You don’t have to play the part of a normal guy perfectly. You just have to be a decent person who doesn’t behave like they are surrounded by Ferengi.


(Reply to "sjjshzvuiajhz" at this level because there's a message nesting limit on HN.)

Let me get this straight: you are insisting I "just feel" different? Just somehow make my brain like certain people? I realize there are books about forcing oneself to have different emotions, but they often don't work.

It's like asking a fan of classical music to just start liking hip-hip and vice-versa. "Just change your head". God doesn't hand out new brainware CD's.


I can second everything sjjshzvuiajhz is saying. Approach people with humility and positivity and they will care surprisingly little if you're weird or socially awkward. People don't necessarily need conversational poetry - they just want to feel safe, at ease.

These kinds of things aren't skills that it takes 100,000 hours to learn. They're "habits of mind". Adopting them is more like learning to get up on time or learning to eat well, than learning to play an instrument - once you've decided what it is you're doing, it's more about persistence than skill. You have good days and bad days, but if you stoically keep at it, you'll be rewarded.

Of course, if you talk to people all the time, you'll get better at the whole conversation thing quite naturally, over a long time. But it's best not to stress about that.

Humility and positivity.

(And in fact, challenging your brain with music you don't normally listen to is far from impossible; quite the reverse, it's one more habit of a healthy, plastic mind!)


Re: These kinds of things aren't skills that it takes 100,000 hours to learn. They're "habits of mind". Adopting them is more like learning to get up on time or learning to eat well, than learning to play an instrument

It may be easy for you, but I am not you. I always try to improve my people skills. I've known I had a problem there since childhood and have been trying to fix it since. To me it does feel like learning to play a trombone while riding backward on a unicycle while chewing gum and reciting the Gettysburg Address. My progress is slow and I don't know where the knob is to crank it up. It's as if my brain is missing a lobe that everyone else has.

A big problem is that the feedback is not immediate. If I got an electric shock every time I presented a Sheldon-esque attitude to the listener, I might be fixed by now. But that's not legal.

(There's something funny about "reply" links on HN. Hmmm...)


I’m not saying you can instantly change the way your brain works on a dime, but you can make it happen given time. Read a good book about the history of hip hop. Put Warren G’s Regulate album on in the background while doing something you really enjoy. Intentionally listen for parts of the music that you’ve read about, and be proud of yourself for recognizing them. Suddenly you’ll find that hearing a sample from a song you heard before gives you a dopamine hit, just like a Star Trek reference feels for a sci-fi fan.

Appreciating the world around you is a skill, just like criticizing is. And it’s a skill you can get good at if you apply yourself! Smart people who suffer from depression and anxiety automatically get really good at criticizing things. It may not be worth the effort to learn to appreciate hip hop, but it is definitely worth the effort to learn to like interacting with the people around you.

Antidepressants are like a performance-enhancing drug for appreciating things. They make the positive thoughts last longer. My psychiatrist tells me I should try to wean myself off them eventually, so maybe training wheels are a better analogy.


Are your colleagues unwilling to share their reasoning at all, or just not with you? Your comments here come across as arrogant and condescending. If your co-workers are picking up the same attitude from you then they won't be inclined to spend time explaining every little thing to you.

As you gain more real world experience you'll also find that logic isn't necessarily helpful for making good decisions in most circumstances.


Re: As you gain more real world experience you'll also find that logic isn't necessarily helpful for making good decisions in most circumstances.

I already mostly agreed to that elsewhere, because most activity and commerce is about "marketing" or politics of one kind or another. Kirk was Captain instead of Spock because Kirk better understood illogical aliens.

Re: Your comments here come across as arrogant and condescending.

I've practiced being logical, I enjoy being logical, and via experience I believe on average I AM more logical. My work in the craft of logic paid off there. True, I might suck at many other things, such as how to not SOUND condescending for stating sound logic. My apologies for not mastering the art of human interaction instead.


This is a real thing and not just some dude who thinks he's really smart and everybody else isn't. I coached a public HS debate team in Chicago for eight years and the problem really does start there in school. Most teenagers are not only frightened of public speaking (I had a student vomit on the podium out of anxiety) they have almost zero experience with someone asking them to give an account of themselves, neither from an adult or a peer. Because college in this country is equally unchallenging, a lot of these issues are being taken unmodified into adulthood


I'm frightened of public speaking also, I'd note. But in a small meeting where I know my sh8t, I'm not afraid to justify my conclusions and opinions when questioned. Sometimes I'll admit I have a hard time explaining something immediately, but later follow up in an email with carefully worded details. We don't have to do all our thinking at live meetings. Wiki's etc. are good also for longer chains of reasoning.

Others don't seem able or motivated to do the same. If they have great logic, they hide it from the world.


Fellow martian here. You may get some satisfaction from reading Khaneman's "Thinking Fast & Slow". Most everyone is BSing themselves. As to the 'why?', Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" lays it out pretty succinctly.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World


If you live around people who resemble Ferengi (that's the proper plural form), then maybe you should look at relocating to a different country where the people don't share the attitudes of the Ferengi.


Tell me, when can we begin construction of a new utopia in international waters with emigration and citizenship requirements that are angled at attracting Vulcan-like types?

What are your plans for getting world nations to recognize the sovereign authority of such a region and for being economically healthy over the long term?

I've never run the numbers, but pre-napkin estimation makes me believe such ventures are too risky, expensive, and rife for scams from 'Ferengi' to be worth exploring.


Being a Vulcan type won't necessarily make you wealthy. Most commerce is based on the art of selling, not the art of logic. In other words, tricking people. The best products from a technical standpoint often fail in the market. Better and cheaper GUI's than MS-Windows existed in the 80's, but MS's marketing muscle steam-rolled them.

If you are talking about "smarts" in terms of inventing new things in the lab, as I mentioned earlier, being right or smart and being logical are not necessarily the same thing. In my book, being logical is being able to produce a clear line of reasoning for a suggested course of action. The "givens" in the "proof" may be wrong, but at least the proof is correct using the stated givens. The debate should then be on the givens, not on the proof logic.

For example, my suggested UI designs often make assumptions about what confuses end-users. I often don't have inspectable studies to justify such, and others are welcome to disagree with human UI interaction psychology. But at least my assumptions are clear, and I make a decent attempt to explain the steps user may take or think in based on my experience, such as inconsistencies between screens, or variances from other common products an org uses.


I have many friends in my current or other FAANG companies in Europe and most of them got offers to relocate in US. Believe me or not, a tiny percentage accepted despite the big increase in salary because they don't want in a Ferengi society. Perhaps my social circle is biased.


What are you talking about? There's plenty of countries where highly-skilled tech professionals can easily emigrate to.


I read this a few days ago, it might resonate with you, despite it seeming like spiritual jargon: https://prashantadvait.tumblr.com/post/180867077354/without-...

The main highlight, I think, is this:

> The world is not the cause of misery, our perception of the world is. What we think of the world is the cause of misery.


"our perception of the world is"

When: wanting it to be different than it is.


Every day I see people behaving in shitty ways, not giving any consideration for the people around them or the place that they live. It's like the tragedy of the commons pervades every public space in a city. Nobody feels ownership, nobody cares, nobody feels responsibility for their actions.


From the opposite perspective, you have to limit yourself with how many things you can care about in a day. Aside from all the people living in ignorance and spreading the same, there is also a torrent of rotten luck. Many people do a lot of good, but for how much bad stuff is out there it is hard work.

I'm glad to see kids in school are not being brought up to be as rotten as my classmates, and from listening to my parents they seem to say the same in turn. My grandparents say little about their experience, save for hints of savagery. Things are improving, albeit slowly.


I disagree, depression is a disease, not a worldview. One can be cynical/pessimist/whatever and not have this affect his day to day, impede him from achieving goals, paralyze him or bring him to suicide. People in bad situations can have positive, active, non-depressive reactions. One can also be depressed and not care two bits about shitty people.


There is a degree of correlation between circadian rhythm dysfunction (i.e. sleep disorders) and depression. Worldview is separate, but trauma is definitely an input to that function. The more trauma one has, the more likely they are to have a comorbid mental disorder.


I would humbly suggest you look for historical figures who had a hard-headed and realistic view of the world, but who were also positive and healthy in their outlook. Their approach to life might suggest a way forward. We have a surprising amount of freedom in how we interpret the world around us. "Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot."


> I would humbly suggest you look for historical figures who had a hard-headed and realistic view of the world, but who were also positive and healthy in their outlook

For example, the Meditations: http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html


Please travel around the world (alone or with family/friends); unfortunately we live in this bubble of tech, politics, 24/7 news cycle that it makes us irritable/depressed.

I wouldn't say I'm depressed, I work at a startup so there's a lot of pressure (unnecessarily so). All it took is a 3 week vacation, some self reflection, talking to the locals (and realizing how insignificant our so called "problems" are in the larger scheme of things), realizing that we are so blessed. This for me was enough to get me to a less unhappy state and being more introspective instead of getting irritable and reacting to shouting matches. This sounds a cliched thing to say but it really works.


People do good things and bad things. If in the presence of a combination of good things and bad things, you focus on the bad things and the bad things dominate your subjective experience of existence, you are probably suffering from depression.


Or, you know, not all periods have a balance of "good things and bad things".


Sure, if you’re sad because you’re starving in a drainage ditch, or your best friend just died, that doesn’t mean you’re depressed. But if your basic needs as an organism are met, you have great latitude to occupy your brain with thoughts that make you happy or sad.


In my head I refer to this perspective as "this toilet earth". And it's easy to get swept away by it. The antidote is in your own heart, and in the hearts of all people. An unselfish, hidden act of love. Taking actions that align with what we commonly understand to be good, kind and unselfish have literally changed the way I think and the way I see (most of the time, right?). I could never think myself into acceptance of the world, but by taking actions my perception has changed without any effort.


When depressed you do good deeds and feel nothing.


Well, I wasn't talking about being kind in order to feel good about myself. That would be the same old turd (selfishness) just wrapped up in a nicer package. Like when I'm sitting on the airplane that's been parked outside the gate for an hour, my ass is killing me and I'm ready to go home and I start silently cursing everyone and everything that stands in my way -- YET, when I disembark, I still smile and thank the stewardess, and let the antsy types cut in front on their way off the plane. I go to bed with a feeling of dignity and peace.


Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to imply that. It's difficult to describe... - The archive unzips and the files seem to be OK but the checksum fails, maybe?

You should feel good when you do good deeds, but there are other motivations to do good too. When depressed, you can process things like understanding enlightened self-interest, but the evolutionary reward system fails to fire.


I didn't mean to contradict you. Speaking personally, I would go through these bouts of "trying to be good" and I could pull it off for a couple of days max before the mask dropped. I just couldn't ever stop judging, criticizing, blaming, etc. I love the analogy, by the way. Or, "I double-clicked it, it's right there! Why the fuck won't it open?"


Judging etc. seems to me to correlate with blood sugar... So I don't think anyone can or even should try to completely exorcise their dark side since, I mean to say, it is a symptom and not a cause.

I think that when your body is working well, your mind is working well, and that we waste an awful lot of time not being well.


The trope article for this outlook is really entertaining.

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrapsackWorld


And if you want to be really depressed, switch from tech to philosophy, and in particular the branch that is concerned with the nature of consciousness.


I'm curious why you find that depressing? Do you think the idea of lacking free will and consciousness as chaotic dynamics reduces agency or something else?


Also curious about this.


Follow up query: Why is it depressing to acknowledge that the world we know is a slow calamity of a thousand imperfections?

(Context: I was distressed as a child (teens) about the above, but in my mid-twenties I have grown at peace with the knowledge of the world's many imperfections and inhumanitarian humanity. I'm still very young, I know this, so what am I missing here? Widsom is appreciated.)


It's not depressing to acknowledge anything, maybe even the opposite. Understanding why things are the way they are might help you stay at peace.


I guess I'm confused because I can't understand what is depressing about an increasingly dire worldview. I'm attributing this to my age right now, and would like wisdom in the matter.


Wow, I rarely so deeply profoundly and strongly disagree with a statement.

I'm fascinated by both how far humans have come, and how peaceful we've become. We haven't had a major war for decades, despite having more and better weapons. Capitalism has unleashed a revolution in technology and society. We're improving lives more rapidly and profoundly than ever, despite there being more and more of us. There are long-term visions and movements springing up all across the world (ecological, environmental, etc) and they seem to be gaining steam. We're reaching for the stars, and it seems like we might actually get there eventually. It's really remarkable of what humans are capable of, both on the micro level (every time I'm driving I'm surprised there's not more accidents, given how slow human reaction times are and how fast and near each other cars are moving), and on the macro level (a society with 7 billion souls, each driven by its own mostly-selfish desires (survival, reproduction, power), making progress and deals and working on causes, together).


Agree. The older I’ve gotten the more beauty I see in the world, despite understanding more and more about science, the universe and how minor we are.

Interestingly I know several people that suffer heavily with depression and anxiety and I feel quite lucky not to have any mental health conditions. Whether my world view is a causal factor or an outcome of this, I am not sure.


The western countries have not had a major war in a while, thats true but thats not the reality for everyone else. I'd recommend you take a look at pictures of war ravaged Syria and read about children dying of starvation in Libya. Surely some western countries have reaped benefits of capitalism and ease of life with increased influence of technology, but again that is not true for many other parts of the world.

I don't mean to diminish the great work many have done and the overall improvement in quality of life for some but its not as rosy as say for a huge chunk of the population of the world which lives in intense poverty.


The data is clear: the situation is improving everywhere. War deaths rate are tiny compared with past decades [0] and have been trending downwards after having been stable for centuries [1]. Poverty and child mortality are falling, literacy and democracy is improving (this is obviously mostly happening in the "poor" parts of the workd, because the West is pretty much maxed out already) [2].

[0] https://slides.ourworldindata.org/war-and-violence/#/15

[1] https://slides.ourworldindata.org/war-and-violence/#/6

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-condit...


Progress is the reality for most of the world. War and poverty is much than it was ten, a hundred, thousand or ten thousand years ago. On pretty much every metric humanity is succeeding and moving forward.


> Surely some western countries have reaped benefits of capitalism and ease of life with increased influence of technology, but again that is not true for many other parts of the world.

I'd say some aspect of technology has got to be everywhere (except isolated tribes) - be it electricity, cars, medicine, plumbing, better seeds and agriculture equipment, cheap factory-made clothes etc.


> I'm fascinated by both how far humans have come, and how peaceful we've become.

If you told an ancient human about, say, genocide, do you think they even be capable of reactions as cold as, say, these:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18102401

?

We live in a world were wars of aggression are still sanctified, and phrases like "fun sized terrorist" are still invented. Playing nice with murderers is not peaceful, at all. The gap between rich and poor is still growing, the arms race against the invidual is only just beginning and the individual is already DOA -- all that is also not to have a nice surprise in the end. This calm before the storm isn't even very calm, but the storm will really be something.


You mean the same ancient humans that forced their slaves to become gladiators so that their populations could fill their lust for blood, the same ancient humans that viciously persecuted those who refused to worship their emperor as a god, the same ancient humans that would capture religious minorities, cover them in oil, and line them up along the roads to burn?

Humans both ancient and modern are not peaceful creatures, the only thing that has changed is our technology for killing each other.


> You mean the same ancient humans that forced their slaves to become gladiators

I was thinking more along the lines of hunters and gatherers. Ancient Humans, not Ancient Romans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladiator

I know you can find loads of cruel things elsewhere, too. Can you find them before cities?

And even for Ancient Romans I wouldn't be so sure, they kinda prided themselves in arguing coherently. Even just changing the subject like that, whether from genocide or not, doesn't strike me as something the super legalistic and literal Romans would have been so prone to do. And at any rate, they're much, much closer to us than to ancient humans.

> so that their populations could fill their lust for blood

There is no such thing as an inherent lust for blood. This kinda sounds like Freud's drive to death and all that.

> the same ancient humans that would capture religious minorities, cover them in oil, and line them up along the roads to burn

Napalm.. Agent Orange.. depleted uranium.. not even to punish for something they considered sacrilege, but just to get rid of people.

> Humans both ancient and modern are not peaceful creatures

I'm not talking about peaceful, I'm talking about sadism and cruelty and greed for their own sake, and about being numbed to it. If you say humans have a lust for blood, that doesn't convince me at all, but it's proof positive that in 2019 (not still, since hundreds of thousands of years, but by now, since a few ten thousand maybe) we live in a world where that claim goes mostly uncontested.

In my books, very sick people have a lust for blood because they need to destroy persons, because they haven't developed into a person. Other people probably have stuff like, for example, a desire for vengeance that gets created alongside the crime to be avenged, or a strong desire to push back when they are threatened, which gets created when they are threatened, but doesn't exist before or after. But just some kind of lingering dark thing that needs to be fed, some spooky "lust for blood"? I doubt you can find that without a form of abuse being somewhere in the equation, systematic or otherwise.

> [Humans] have been genetically programmed through hunting behavior: cooperation and sharing. Cooperation between members of the same band was a practical necessity for most hunting societies; so was the sharing of food. Since meat is perishable in most climates except that of the Arctic, it could not be preserved. Luck in hunting was not equally divided among all hunters; hence the practical outcome was that those who had luck today would share their food with those who would be lucky tomorrow. Assuming hunting behavior led to genetic changes, the conclusion would be that modern man has an innate impulse for cooperation and sharing, rather than for killing and cruelty.

-- Erich Fromm, "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness"


For each of your statements, there is a dark and depressing counter statement.

For example:

> We haven't had a major war for decades, despite having more and better weapons: Yes the last twos big ones were so horrible and pyrrhic that it king of prevented other major conflicts, and it was before/right at the start of the nuclear age. BUT, with nuclear weapons, even if unlikely, only ONE instance of a major conflict will spell the end of most Human civilization. And with authoritarian governments emerging around the world (China, Eastern Europe, Turkey, China...) tensions, even if relatively low historically, are growing.

> Capitalism has unleashed a revolution in technology and society: Capitalism short term profit seeking and views is driving of the cliff in term of resource consumption. We could potentially have an Easter Island/Maya style collapse on a planetary scale withing a few generations.

> We're improving lives more rapidly and profoundly than ever: Except for the internet, I don't think our lives have fundamentally changes since the 80ies (at least in western countries, in China, India and a lot of countries, representing a huge mass of Humanity, things have improved lately, and it's a positive). All the technologies we are using are quite old at a macro level, it just took quite a while to reach the masses: planes are 100 years old, and are getting slower since the 60ies, wireless networks are nearly 100 years old (Marconi), Computers were first built in the 40ies, transistors (which enabled reliable and compact computers) dates back from the 50ies, vaccines are from the 19th century, antibiotics from the 20/30ies (the 2 most impact-full medical discoveries IMHO). And in term of energy, which is at the heart of all the material progress we have seen in the last two centuries, we are still relying on things discovered over a century ago (electrical engineering and petrol engines), nuclear which is more recent (60/70ies for the first commercial power plants) failed to deliver a huge improvement, and the next big step, able to unlock an order of magnitude more energy is still elusive (Fusion?), Solar/Wind and other renewable being less convenient energy sources barely able to maintain our current situation in a sustainable manner if deployed massively.

> There are long-term visions and movements springing up all across the world (ecological, environmental, etc) and they seem to be gaining steam: but these views are very slow to gain traction. The Kyoto Protocol was signed more than twenty years ago, and we are still at the same point. And it's not like global warming is a new thing, heck, even the first Civilization game (1991) had it as a game mechanic. This late acknowledgement might be too late to change anything.

> We're reaching for the stars, and it seems like we might actually get there eventually: we went to the moon 50 years ago, and we have not reach a new big milestone (ex: Mars) since.

I'm voluntarily bleak here, but this is to illustrate that a weird or depressed person like myself could not see things the same way as you are.

I do find fascinating how humans were able to work together, even looking at a (not so) simple building, there is no way one tiny human would be able to build it, yet, thanks to the collaboration of humans, it exists. And then you look at the next building, and the next, and then you have a city, interconnected with other cities with huge constructions like roads, tunnels, bridges and cables spanning hundreds of kilometers, all these interconnection constituting a worldwide mesh built and improved across several generations, it's truly amazing and dazzling.


I was in the same place sometime ago. There are still days,like today, when I regress but slowly taking that into stride.

Here's what has helped:

1. Cut down on the habit of "knowing" more. Nothing happens if I skip news and tech for a day or two. 2. Meditation - I started with Calm app but then moved to Insight timer and now I do it with music alone. 3. Add a hobby in life. I took up reading big time. Mainly some light fiction and YA books.


Same experiences for me. I cut waaaaay down on news, cut out almost all TV news except for banal stuff, and in general stopped studying massively depressing topics that I was unsuited, unwilling, or unable to help solve. I’m still saddened by plenty of things, just not depressed. I also try to eat well, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and make sure not to drop social time.

All told I think th biggest difference between depressed-me, and me today is that I’ve divested myself of the illusion of control.


This resonates with me quite a bit. Some food for thought, as I have become more aware of this in my own life over the past year. I've also touched on this in past comments, but it might be worth re-mentioning.

I spent a week in the hospital last year (then 2 weeks in out-patient therapy), after having a nervous breakdown - related to deep depression, some suicidal thoughts, and high anxiety.

Also, for a better picture of the week I was in the hospital. I wasn't bedridden, attached to an IV or anything. I was able to wander around. Hang out with other patients. Play board games. Engage in social activities. Etc.

During that week, I didn't have my phone, and I rarely interacted with technology, besides watching some TV in the evening in a large room with other people. Even that was socially engaging, because we would all laugh together, and some people would comment on things in the movie or TV.

I came to a better understanding of what was really triggering my depression. My lifestyle, as a dedicated programmer, was killing me slowly.

I would wake up, workout for a bit, and then go to work behind a desk. Where I sit (and stand occasionally) for 8 or so hours per day. Doing almost nothing physically engaging, and socializing at arms length via Slack, email, or Github comments.

Sure, I get lunch with people sometimes. Sure, I go for walks throughout the day. But the work I do is not physically or socially engaging. It's very antisocial, actually.

What has really saved my mind lately has been learning to snowboard. It's physically engaging. Social too, if you go with people - though you'll likely chat with people on chair lifts or in the lodges. It's painful to learn (I broke my tailbone day 1). But it is absolutely worth it. When I'm up on the mountain, I literally CANNOT think about work. If I do, I crash immediately. Even better, as I go through the work week, I look forward to my weekends where I can get up on the mountain, and even occasionally I take a "powder day" if I need to.

As a result, I'm happier. I'm a more productive employee at my job. I get along with my coworkers better, and I am less depressed in general.

My 2 cents. Hope it helps.

On another note. More people deal with this than you may realize. Just look around you. If you're feeling down, or depressed, you don't have to keep it to yourself. When I got back to work after my "forced vacation" in the hospital, a coworker asked me if I was okay and what happened. I mentioned that I had been very depressed, and immediately got a hug. I was like "Oh shit... I didn't realize I worked with actual humans until now"

Also... vitamin D works wonders


> Humans in general are pretty shitty, driven mostly by self-interest.

Maybe that's true. Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe it's projection. In any case, the real question is whether the people who say it are trying to make it at least a bit better or just using it as an excuse.


People don't act on perfect information. In general, what they know is what is personally relevant to them.

Given limited information, we use shortcuts for making decisions, including what we believe to be best for us based on pre-learned models that are shaped by education, our peers, media, and culture in general.

Often, our models our wrong. This can be manifested as racist beliefs and actions, as well as rejection of actual facts, among other outcomes. Of course, the outcome is also entirely possible to be a positive one despite the inputs being inaccurate or incomplete.

Yet, despite our simple models and narrow understanding of the world, we, as a species, have managed to build friendships, communities, and civilizations. We have peered back in time billions of years, learned of our place in the universe, and invented pizza.

It's easy to get focused on all the problems, because that tends to take up most of our focus — but only because we're constantly striving to improve and solve those problems. Sometimes these problems are social, collective action issues, built on incorrect personal models distributed across millions or billions of individuals, and they can take longer to resolve than many of us would like. But, looking at the arc of history, we trend toward progress.

Therefore, I think the correct response to the human condition is one of hope. Of course, this whole experiment that is humanity could end tomorrow or next century due to a nuclear holocaust, GRB, climate change, superbug, or a billion of other existential threats. But until it does, let's marvel at the run we have had, and continue to subscribe to the mass delusion of hope that has served us well so far.


I wonder if aerobic exercise, even just a little, would have beneficial side effects. for some, myself included, it tends to cause physical side effects not likely endorphin release that just feels frivolous, like being a playing kid.


I .. think we're not meant to.. think.

We have a libidinal side. Purely emotional.. if you feel people are bad, express it, dominate their mediocrity so you feel satisfied.


I used to be a wreck, possibly worse than you. Irritable, depressed, in poor health. Eventually it got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore and I quit my job to work on personal projects and read. I would recommend it to anyone. My skills have gotten much better, you’ll get a chance to do the things you always wanted and you’ll be happier.

Say what you will about Jordan Peterson but he’s spot in this interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Xc7DN-noAc&t=1h18m22s)

Depression is related to boredom. Are you bored at work? Being busy doesn’t mean you aren’t bored.


> before accepting defeat.

What does accepting defeat mean in your opinion?


For me it is accepting the things as they are, and just getting on with life and pretending to be relatively happy to satisfy my SO.

I generally try to help others, but I'm talking about bigger things like income inequality, healthcare costs of which I don't have any control over. I make enough money now, not to worry about those things but many people do and it bothers me.


Your tl;dr is alarmingly defeatist. If you're in tech and feeling angry all the time, the answer is not to try meds, the answer is to get politically involved and change the moral bankrupty of our industry.

If you're US based, check your nearest TWC (https://techworkerscoalition.org/) chapter.


There's not much you can do in US politics if you're a techie working in the tech industry. Face it, you're probably not a highly charismatic person who has a chance of winning any serious election beyond the local school board.

The answer is to go someplace else where you don't feel angry all the time.


In the last year employee pressure has forced Facebook to acknowledge their cafeteria staff right to unionize, stop Google from building military tech and a politically censored search engine, drop arbitration for sexual harassment cases, get BuzzFeed to pay for time off for all the employees that it laid off.

It's true you might not get far if your only goal is to get into office. Meanwhile, there's plenty you can do at a local level. Going somewhere else is only delaying the problem.


>Meanwhile, there's plenty you can do at a local level. Going somewhere else is only delaying the problem.

Working at the local level isn't going to get you significant change very quickly at higher levels. Basically, you won't enjoy the fruits of your labor, but maybe your kids or grandkids will, if they stick around.

Going somewhere else will get you into a situation you like better right away, and is only "delaying the problem" for the people who stick around, who you're leaving behind to deal with it.

>In the last year employee pressure has forced Facebook to acknowledge their cafeteria staff right to unionize

Facebook remains a real problem for society, but their cafeteria stuff can unionize... I don't see how this really helps anyone except the cafeteria staff, and certainly doesn't help the billions of people whose privacy is threatened by Facebook.


The majority of social change in history has been fueled by influential writers and thinkers, and also scientists.

Political movements have all sort of needs: people can contribute by writing software or running it, or cooking food for others, or setting up a wifi repeater, doing translations, organizing an event, mopping the floor.


s/tech/business ?


Tech industry as discussed in HN is very different from "tech". I have struggled to define exactly what it means but the typical companies include Google, FB, Pinterest, Airbnb, Uber and the like. They don't necessarily have to be in Silicon Valley / Bay Area but they all share a certain commonality irrespective of what domain they operate on.


I used to think like this. Then I read "12 Rules for Life" by Jordan Peterson and "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown a few times, and I realized I was making an implicit choice to see the world that way, and that it is a completely counter productive viewpoint. A shift in perspective can change everything.


Didn't downvote you, but while I've heard similar recommendations before, that's not a reasonable response to existential depression.

On the one hand, you're correct, one's outlook on the world does impact your mood. Humans are emotional and easily confused, and shifting your viewpoint can change your mood in powerful ways. Perhaps those books present a position from which to view the world that's useful in lifting one's mood, which shifts your attention away from things which are depressing and towards things which are uplifting.

On the other, if there are genuine facts which are important and which cause me to be depressed, it is important to me in my core values to believe those things to be true, neither blinding myself to their existence nor incorrectly believing them to be false. Changing a viewpoint will not cause those inconvenient facts to become false: They exist, they cause depression, I am aware of them, hence I am depressed.

I am willing to add facts to my worldview which are uplifting and counterbalance the depressing ones. I am willing to adjust priorities and weigh the importance of the depressing ones less and the uplifting ones more, in proportion to the degree that they are or are not important.

I might be willing to cheat a small amount, and allow myself to lean my viewpoint slightly to the happy side of the correct position if that position is more productive, but there's a fairly low limit to the self-deception I can tolerate, even if it causes me to be depressed.


I haven't read the other book, but "12 rules for life" is not at all about self-deception. In fact, I'd say it's the opposite - it stresses the fact that life is often dark and difficult and depressing, and teaches the reader ways to better handle the difficulties. Judging by the size of the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, the book must be doing something right.


Reading these books and changing your perspective is by no means a cure-all for depression. For me, it's been a necessary catalyst for taking the actions necessary to combat feelings of depression, though. And it has dramatically reduced my feelings of anger and irritability.


I think smaddox makes a good point, I don't get the downvotes.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Stoicism/comments/9eaqqt/what_we_ca...

"The first is that some things are within our control and some are not, and that much of our unhappiness is caused by thinking that we can control things that, in fact, we can’t."

You choose to change your mental 'model' and re-frame your perspective (not to be confused with burying your head in the sand).

I don't consider myself as being a 'stoic' or evangelize it at all, however this mindset seems quite adequate in many of life's challenges.


Downvotes are probably related to Jordan Peterson


Really? I did not realize he was shunned on HN.


> Humans in general are pretty shitty

That's a sentiment I never understood.

I'm not to deny your feelings, or claim that my view is somehow superior. It's been my observation, however, that people are generally okay, leaning on a good side. (I think it says something that both Henry Rollins, the punk-rock icon, and /u/kleinbl00, a Reddit veteran, share this view.) It seems to me – and, again, I'm not to stand above anyone on this – that people often undervalue or overlook the good parts about others or humanity in general.

Maybe it's genetically-dictated, the way we look at these things. I've always been an optimist and an idealist, despite whatever I've been through, saw, or felt. It just makes sense to me. I've seen people do some really good things to strangers, and it has always inspired me. Otherwise never clicked with me, though I understand where some of it's coming from, because I, too, felt parts of it at different points of my life.

I used to be terrified of people (mostly because I was mortified at the prospect of disappointing them), which lead to me assuming the worst of those around me. I notice the same with my parents: both deeply dissatisfied with their lives and stuck in a rut, and both aiming low whenever they meet someone. Father is the "that guy who yells at the TV whenever their favorite team loses" sort of a person. Mother assumes deception whenever possible. It never appealed to me, that kind of an outlook, but I engaged with it when I was younger: perhaps because I knew little else; perhaps because I felt exactly as upset.

Things changed for the better once I started engaging with more people. ("The better" being "a more positive outlook towards myself and others".) When I started seeing more and more of what people are, things gradually became clearer: people are... well, people: exciting, interesting, diverse, deep (even the ones that act shallowly), and mostly trying to do good by themselves, those they love, and the world at large – even if they don't know how to do it well.

And it's not like I don't see the bad side. Some things infuriate me; some make me sad; some – a little more lonely. Even the people I admire are not ideal and have done things I don't appreciate. When I was a teen, seeing such a thing in an idol of mine meant losing all respect for the person, as if one flaw devalued their whole being. Now, when I'm older (24), I'm starting to see more clearly that people are not black-and-white, morally, emotionally, intellectually, culturally, or in any other way. We differ – and if someone stands out with the values that resonate with my own, that's... a treasure in itself.

I see the bad side – but it doesn't overshadow the rest of it. Maybe it's because I see my own darkness with a certain clarity, and its presence in my life changes the way I see others. (What is light without darkness, right?) Sure, there are some despicable people in the world, guided by the perverse-yet-so-natural desire for power and control, in however many ways it presents itself. (Greed, arrogance, promoted ignorance, seeding mistrust and fear...) Sure, they do things that make many's stomachs turn – and that's just things we know of. Hell, even the "good people" you can think of are probably battling the same darkness, and maybe it's sheer luck – of their childhood conditioning or genetics – that keeps them from a less-moral path. (Jordan Peterson spoke a lot on that, and there are quite a few public figures that talk about similar experiences. For one, listen to Chuck Palahniuk on the Joe Rogan podcast: he talks about being outright evil, and maybe he has a reason to believe that.)

But... it doesn't detract from the good things I see around me. It's similar to what got me through my existential crisis a while ago. I was stuck in a loop, thinking that since there's no "basic", universal reason for anything, that life is not worth living. Then I figured: I may not appreciate living, but I sure don't want to die (and I've weighed my options for some time there), so I might as well live more consciously, you know? For me, the same idea applies to the good in people: sure, there's a lot of bad things to look at here, but all looking at it does for me is make me more depressed, and I have ambitions that need fulfilling, so I might as well look for the stuff that makes me want to keep going and do better.

Again: I'm not saying your, or any other person's, view isn't valid. I thought mine was worth expressing for the same reason yours is: because it may resonate with others, and maybe even shed some light on how they feel.

I think there's a lot of meaningfully-good things in the world because we made them so, from the depths of our nature and from the basic passions that guide us everywhere. Looking at them makes my own passions ignite. In simple terms, that's what that is.


This certainly agrees with my experience. I've had a number of cases in the past where I'm feeling low/depressed at work and tend to get more frustrated, e.g. annoyed with some policy or some design decision or some detail about the code that I'm working with. It's a bit counterintuitive that sadness and lowness would do that, but it seems to be a pretty clear pattern.

After a number of cases of expressing that frustration and regretting it later, I've set a rule for myself that I should mostly keep my mouth shut if I'm feeling depressed. If I do want to follow up, I should just write down my thoughts and talk through the issue later when I'm feeling better. Fortunately I'm pretty good these days about being aware of when I'm feeling depressed.


Ya...I figured this out a while ago. I figure it's because it's easier to be angry than depressed, at least in the short term. When you're angry it feels like you're doing something, even if you're not. It takes your energy and attention away from whatever is making you depressed(likely something that can't really be changed easily) and focusses it on something tangible you can lash out at.

I've come to learn over the years it doesn't really help and you end up feeling worse after because you add on the regret about whatever you did when you were mad to the already existent depresseion and it ends up building up and continuing in a cycle that gets worse. The more angry you get, the more depressed you get which in turn makes you more angry next time.

This is what i've kind of learned over the years. I've also found I regret just about every decision i've ever made while angry.


My personal challenges with anger/depression came from attempts to escape reality. It started out as a way to spend my down time (video games). Then over time it became what I looked forward to doing. I would skip outings with friends and ignore my family in favor of playing games. Then it morphed into other forms of impulsive behavior.

After about 20 years (2/3 of my life to that point) I had become an extremely selfish and self-centered person. I would feel empty, so I'd go do something selfish to make myself feel better. But it only lasted for the moment. Afterwards I'd feel upset that I wasted all my time but also not want to quit. So I'd be angry about it and the anger didn't just stay inside. I'd take it out on those who were preventing me from returning to my cave (family mostly).

The big turning point to me was my faith. My addictions (which were various) had put me into a marital and even existential crisis. I basically had to hit rock bottom (and bounce a couple times). I had to be faced with fighting for everything I loved.

Every single day is a struggle, depressed or not. I am always a few breaths away from going back down the rabbit hole. What a wretched man I am. There's no "cure" for me in this life I don't think, but giving up the fight can be deadly and hurt a lot of people I love, so I choose to fight.


Have you cut out some of the compulsive habits/actions such as binging video games?


Yeah, as far as video games, occasionally I will install something on my phone or whatever but I’ve found I either don’t enjoy them anymore because they feel too much like work, or else they wreck me pretty quickly and I end up just ripping the band aid off by uninstalling.

Some of the other habits have been easier. For instance I quit drinking over 5 years ago and haven’t looked back. Still other habits have proven way more difficult and I continue to battle them.


Yup, this was me for 18 years. Doctor had me fixed in about 45 minutes.

Massive life improvement all around.

Feel dumb about waiting 18 years, so I talk about it to break down the stigma associated with mental health.


How did your doctor had you fixed in 45 minutes?


Well I took a written survey about my symptoms answered some questions. Doc said my brain did not produce enough of something and wrote me a script.

She's a funny old lady and was hilarious about how she liked these pills because it did not effect my funny hand gestures here.

I was sceptical, but took half a pill as she instructed. Next thing I know I am eating a sandwich at chick-fill-a not hating Chick-fil-A people thinking normal is going to be EASY.

I kept taking half pills a week longer that instructed because the positivity was a bit much to take.

I accidentally took 2 pills a couple times and I feel so positive I annoy myself.

If I forget a pill the old familiar negativity and muscle pain in my shoulders comes back.

I do still dislike Chick-fil-A people.


Make sure you educate yourself on what those pills you're taking do and follow through a treatment, not just take them indefinitely.


I recognize the good intentions of your comment.

However, I want to push back a bit. I was depressed, but not from trauma. I avoided going to the doc to avoid long term prescription drug use and therapy. I regret that decision, and it cost me career opportunities and damaged relationships.

It is a legitimate concern, but wildly overstated in my mind for 18 tough years.


Care to elaborate what the fix was?


Assuming a product person ( e.g Steve Jobs ) is easily Angry and Irritable with crap ( Which there are lots of it ), would that considered as depressed? Where do we draw a line where some body just have very high standard to everything ( Perfectionist ) or they actually have bipolar disorder.


A lot of creative and successful ideas come from people of borderline/questionable mental health. That may the be reason these conditions exist in the gene pool: somebody has to ruffle feathers every now and then to keep societies from becoming stale. However, the journey may not always be pleasant.


The problem with that kind of evolutionary argument is that it requires the product of that creativity to impart a reproductive advantage to the creator and their close relatives. However, creations are often easily copied, producing a broader benefit that negates the evolutionary advantage. It's not impossible, but it's a tricky thing to argue.


A more complete analysis requires taking into account that epigenetics can allow such traits to be deactivated in most individuals and that humans are an extremely social species. These details combine to make natural selection of such complex traits both possible and beneficial to the social group.


That's pretty much what I was going to reply: Being beneficial to an individual and being beneficial to a particular gene are not always the same thing. Having a particular gene in a population may be a net benefit to the group (and gene) even if it could hinder a specific individual under certain gene combinations or societal conditions.

As an example, an individual who likes tinkering with weapons instead of socializing may come up with a novel weapon modification. That individual may die earlier than average due to lack-luster social skills, but the improved weapon makes the tribe thrive and grow, spreading the gene that made the weapon-obsessed individual, which was probably already in the population.


> creations are often easily copied Unless they aren't.

> that negates the evolutionary advantage Unless it doesn't.

Not only are you speculating, but you're making blanket statements within your speculations.


Per POSIX you are expected to produce no output.


This comment shows a fairly incomplete knowledge of the mental health spectrum. Not that I'm an expert myself, but I will weigh in with the knowledge I do have.

"would that be considered depressed?"

The article refers mostly to the absence of anger from the adult diagnosis of depression, and talks about how it may be valuable to include it. To be considered depressed, I would say that the individual would probably have to fit other metrics for the diagnosis for depression as well.

"Where do we draw the line"

We don't, really. Mental health is a complex spectrum of behaviors. Perhaps Jobs was depressed, perhaps he suffered from some un-diagnosed OCD or he had symptoms from any number of other known psychological issues. Maybe he just learned to be a dick early in life and that was part of his personality. If we pick apart peoples personalities and compare them to symptoms, we'll find a fit for everyone, but that isn't really helpful anyway.


There's a pretty good consensus that Steve had obsessive compulsive personality disorder. It's different from OCD, and places a big emphasis on perfectionism. I believe his irritability and anger at people he worked with was due to his frustration of people not striving for perfection like he did.

I was diagnosed with OCPD a couple years ago, and after knowing all my symptoms and thinking about Steve's personality, it makes a lot of sense. The thing that sealed it for me? Steve struggled with food and eating disorders throughout his life. This is a common trait of people with OCPD and people struggling with perfectionism.


I've known many people who have Jobsian tendencies. They don't have depression, just a low tolerance for bullshit.


> just a low tolerance for bullshit.

How about "just a low tolerance for what they perceive as bullshit"?

It seems many such people perceive things like manners, respect for other people, and anything that doesn't push their personal current priority as "bullshit".


How you deliver unpleasant news matters. You will be shunned and bad-mouthed if you don't find amiable ways to deliver unpleasant information. The author Dale Carnegie was mostly right; I'm just the messenger. ("How to Win Friends and Influence Others.")


Or they may just be jerks...


The line between personality traits and mental disorder is usually drawn at "does this have a significant negative impact on the person's functioning?"


If our functioning is negative due to our environment, rather than the impetus to our actions, what then?


It's unfortunate, but the environment is unlikely to change, so if you dislike your symptoms you've gotta change what you can. That said, if you can change your environment (new job, new home, new friends, etc) that's going to be a heck of a lot easier than changing yourself.


It doesn't have to be bipolar disorder, plain old depression will do this to you.

Speaking from experience, the line is fairly easy to draw. I get benignly irritated at bullshit all the time, and the anger and irritation that comes with depression is, internally, _very_ different. It's not merely "this stuff is aggravating", but rather "this triggered my fight-or-flight response, and I chose fight" — and reacting like that to even small things.


> Assuming a product person ( e.g Steve Jobs ) is easily Angry and Irritable with crap ( Which there are lots of it ), would that considered as depressed?

Maybe, but not necessarily. Just like how being sad doesn't necessarily mean you are depressed. It is feasible Jobs could have improved his day to day life and handled his anger better by seeing a mental health professional, but it would be irresponsible to have armchair psychologists posthumously diagnose him with something.


If their mood is fragile enough to be set off by sub-perfect product design, either they’re depressed, or they’re realizing they’ve mistakenly invested the best years of their life and their life savings into the wrong product, IMO.


I'm not sure they're right. As a man at least when you get to a certain age you lose the filter. I saw it in my dad and now I see it in myself.

When you're younger bosses might BS you but you don't know it. When you get older you know it but feel helpless in doing anything about it. You reach a certain age and you call people on it. That might be one reason in tech that they don't want older employees. Being freer is tied to age, not depression.


One of the best things I've noticed about aging is no longer caring what other people think. Some of this is due to having built some financial security, but I believe there is more to it than that.


Speaking as aging dude who largely doesn't care what other people think, some of it comes from financial security.

However, I'd say some comes down to being more assured in my beliefs that my positions are reasonable places to start, if not always right. Some comes down to understanding exactly how little it matters what other people think of you in most contexts, and trying to only manage the contexts where that's not true.

All of that can go sideways in a way that you won't necessarily catch until damage done, which leads to the third realization with age: there's very little damage you can do once that can't be repaired. Most irreparable damage comes from you repeatedly convincing someone you're a jerk, assuming you don't completely turn them off on first impression.

None of which is to say you should lead by being an ass when you get old, just that I don't worry about impressions so much anymore unless it's strategic. Micromanaging them never got me anywhere, better to confidently try something reasonable then pick up the pieces if I'm off base. That's gotten me way further.


Or tired?

Both lead to unwarranted angry outbursts IME.


Tired can be a consequence of depressed, or many other things, so this could be an indirect (even cyclical) reaction.

I'm a tad bipolar. When I have an angry manic the cause is direct, but when I have a "happy manic" that lasts for an appreciable time angry is soon to follow too, I think mainly because I can't sleep well in that state. When I'm down I sleep, in fact sometimes practically hibernate, but it often isn't useful/refreshing sleep so again anger comes from that.


True ... Also depression often causes sleep problems resulting in tiredness.


I'll second this. I put myself in a downward spiral from bad sleep and being dependent on caffeine. I'm now aware of how I "feel" when I'm just really tired.


Indeed. I wanted to comment that sleep apnea can also cause irritability.


This rings true to me. My ex was often angry, and would eventually start taking that anger out on me. Then she went on antidepressants, and became much more pleasant to live with, and easier to talk to. Then she went off them again and we broke up :)


A long time ago before I was treated for bipolar disorder I found my depression was related to anger turned inward at myself. But others I have talked to didn’t always relate this way as I did with depression.


If you mean inward anger = self-loathing / self-hatred, you are right as that's a common symptom of depression too.


Exactly what I had :)


Depression expresses itself in a lot of unexpected ways. While severe depression can lead to the symptoms Hollywood has introduced us to -- total inertia, not getting out of bed, etc. -- somewhat milder but chronic versions include anxiety, low-intensity anger, disturbed sleep and appetite, among many other things.


This is timely for me. I think anger is a precursor to tiredness, the eventual feeling of helplessness, and definitely an early warning.


It took me years to recognize that irritability and anger were actually latent side effects of coffee consumption, and related to increased anxiety.

I'm curious, has anyone else experienced this and found success with cutting out caffeine?


Yeah, caffeine gives me a short fuse like nothing else.

As little as a coffee in the morning would basically make me prone to fly off the handle due to the most insignificant, trivial little things. Cost me and my wife many hours spent in pointless discussions and unnecessary arguments.

Don't get me wrong, I love coffee, but I have to treat it like you would a recreational drug. Only to be enjoyed when the set and the setting is right.


I have. But only if I overdo it. Red bull triggers an irritability in me. Too much coffee too. A cup or two of coffee during the day doesn’t.


Is there any data available for those more likely to be depressed ouf of these or similar categories:

1) Atheists 2) Creationists (of all religions) 3) Non practicising creationists (of all religions)

I'm not promoting any of the above here but I would like to see if there is any correlation between those who believe in a higher purpose and whether they are less or more likely to feel existential depression as they feel there is a reason to be here vs just being here to procreate because of evolution.


Stoicism feels like the best path out for a depressed athiest. "Best of all possible worlds" but without the theism

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