Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] Solving Depression with Analytical Thinking (rockentry.com)
41 points by burritofanatic 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments



Dude, you had some unfortunate life events piled on top of each other causing turmoil. I sincerely don't wish that to happen to anyone and I congratulate you on feeling better, but..

I want to point out that your episode is not to be compared with actual sustained major depression, which will _eat you alive_. So utterly and completely will your soul be crushed that taking your own life will feel redundant, unnecessary. You have literally no idea of how deep this rabbit hole goes, thank god, but your advice trivialises the depth of depression and I have to wonder how this got so high on HN.. This is a blog with one post, one.


I completely agree, what the author of the posts describes is traumatic life events, which often can be confused with clinical depression. Clinical depression is frequently worsened with analytic thinking, as analytic thinking, when depressed, reinforces the depression and doesn't pull you out of it.

In clinical depression your brain chemistry is off in a way that doesn't rebound easily. Just "thinking about solving the problem" doesn't actually work and typically worsens symptoms.

There's a reason why mindfulness and meditation show great results when used to treat reoccurring clinical depression. It's expressly because it allows you to escape analytical thinking and "doing" modes of thought.

I suspect this climbed quickly on hacker news for two reasons. First the type of people that frequent here are intellectual types that believe "thinking about problems" is the best way to solve a problem and depression is just another problem to be solved. The second is the way that HackerNews ranks posts, where an upvoted post with a high/near equal number of comments rockets to the first page.

The blog post is purely anecdotal, lacks any scientific basis, lacks a medical diagnosis, and suggests an oversimplified solution to a complex problem that the author is not an expert on.

In essence it's a crap post promoting a rock climbing book.


Exactly. That sounded nothing like clinical depression. That was a shitty few months that he fixed by getting a new job and paying off a massive debt.


I think his advice is garbage, but it doesn't trivialize depression at all. Depression is an umbrella term, he's speaking honestly about his own experience. It's still "depression".

There's always this sort of reaction anytime someone shares solutions, for severe depression or otherwise, casting it as patronizing and demanding more caveats and tip-toeing. You'd think they'd rather see wallowing in self-pity. In no instance are these meant to reflect personal failures.


> I think his advice is garbage, but it doesn't trivialize depression at all. Depression is an umbrella term, he's speaking honestly about his own experience. It's still "depression".

Actually, I overreacted and I agree with you here. "Depression" is actually quite well defined by the DSM, but the common use of the word covers a lot of ground indeed. So, I read "clinical depression", but I should have read what was actually in the article: just "depression", being "depressed".

Excuse me, for me it's a delicate subject.


Bizarrely, and maybe even unethically since we're talking about depression here, I think this blog post is a not too subtle way to sell their book on rock climbing.


A similar thing happens with stories of burnout - people unaware of where that can take a person.


"But your depression isn't /real/ depression^(tm)"

Stop it with the depression olympics nonsense. That doesn't help anyone. Your depression isn't an identity and it can't be appropriated.

Furthermore, while you think you're putting out a defense of those with /real/ deression^(tm), you may actually be doing harm, because you might cause those with depression to feel even worse as they could start thinking of themselves as impostors.


The recurring theme in almost all accounts of depression that I've read is the lack of will and/or care to get out of the state (and/or care for much of anything).

This guy had a real problem - several of them, actually, and I admire him for pulling himself by the bootstraps going up; and for avoiding paralysis which is indeed an issue in situations like this. But being depressed for specific reasons (marriage failure, financial problems), solvable or not, is very different from clinical depression - which may look similar on the outside, but doesn't have a good reason.

I don't want to belittle anyone or anything, but ... I've read countless descriptions of depression, and this one is unlike the others. The author may have suffered from real depression, but I don't believe his experience is applicable to other cases.

To each his own, but the reason I'm pointing this out is to (hopefully) stop HNrs who are unaware of this, who may show this to their clinically depressed friends or family and say "see, you just need some analytical thinking". It may work - some people manage to overcome schizophrenia with analytical thinking - but they are AFAIK a tiny minority.


I know some people, who are in complete paralysis thanks to (overly) analytic thinking. On the other hand, from all the people I know having a major depression, nobody was able to advance simply by analyzing, deciding, acting, and without help. That said, it might worked for the author, but I doubt that it would work that smoothly for the majority of people with problem paralysis, let alone depression.


I wonder if it's not so much analytical thinking as opposed to just going out and doing something. Several forms of depression are exacerbated by ruminative thinking [1]. I'm not sure many depressed people would be able to successfully navigate the steps involved for analytical thinking without falling back into rumination.

Rather than attempting analytical thinking first, I think it'd be much easier to initiate a simple activity, walk around the block, see a happy movie, visit a bookstore. Once one gets out of this cycle of ruminative thinking can one have the wherewithal to begin analytical thinking.

[1] https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-ruminating-is-unhealthy-an...


Lest anyone take the advice in the OP to heart, there is no shame in obtaining a bankruptcy discharge - it's just another tool in your financial toolbox. Moreover, it's needlessly stressful and harmful to struggle under the burden of managing someone else's debt while also going through a divorce and suffering a serious illness. I marvel at the dude's strength and if he were participating in the comment thread I'd ask if in retrospect he'd change anything.


There is shame in breaking a promise. Bankruptcy breaks a promise. Being a tool in your toolbox, even being necessary some times, doesn't neutralize a shamefully act, to the extent that your choices contributed to it.


The bank charged you interest based on what they thought the risk was of you breaking that promise. They knew the risk when they put out that loan.


True, but I feel I would still feel shame in failing to keep my word, regardless of the intention of the other party, as long as they keep theirs.


> True, but I feel I would still feel shame

Please keep your shame to yourself. Your other comments in this thread sound like you're trying to invoke your shame upon others for declaring bankruptcy.

If your intention was consistently "I would still feel shame" rather than "You should feel shame", that's fine, but please make that clearer.


I would still feel shame, to the extent that the bankruptcy was due to my choices. I would judge others on the same basis.


May I ask what your cultural background is?

"Choice" is a funny concept. There are cultures that made people choose between Seppuku and shame, with Seppuku being the honorable "choice". You seem to be accepting and even advocating a financial version of that "choice".

It's not quite as common these days, and for the best IMO.


If I go bankrupt because I get hit by a bus on the sidewalk, I wouldn't feel ashamed of that. If I go bankrupt because I got drunk and ran into a bus, I'd feel ashamed of that. If I go bankrupt because it's more convenient than paying my debts, I'd feel ashamed of that.

A family member did that. I felt ashamed of him and less of him. I'm less likely to make him a loan. He lost credit with me. I think that's healthy.


Of course you should /intend/ to, when all else is equal. But once the cost to yourself of keeping that commitment skyrockets, it's just not worth it.

Think of it as a captain staying with his ship. All else being equal the captain should stay on his ship. But if the ship is damaged beyond repair and it's sinking, a human life is far more valuable than a ship. Bankruptcy is leaving the ship when things are too far gone to save.


> True, but I feel I would still feel shame in failing to keep my word

You can "keep your word", or not, to a person. When dealing with a large organization all that matters is what's in the contract. Shame doesn't factor into it because it can't be reciprocated. Corporations don't feel shame.


> I feel I would still feel shame in failing to keep my word

Events conspired to prevent you from keeping your word. There's no reason to pay for it emotionally for the rest of your life.

Also, do you think big corporations and CEOs feel shame when using tax loopholes and offshore tax havens to pay less tax than you do?


The implicit promise was "I will act lawfully, which means that I will do my best to repay; however, if I find I am unable to repay, I will lawfully use the legal recourse for this situation, bankruptcy". It was not broken.

One can't just declare themselves bankrupt - you have to go through the legal system to do that, which supposedly verifies that you indeed qualify for the protections afforded by bankruptcy. Note that this is the same legal system that enforces the lender's rights in case you are able to repay but will not.


It is as shameful as the bank charging you interest. Which is to say, not shameful. It's just business.


Charging interest within a voluntary agreement is shameful? Or just for a bank? Why? This point of view seems to be associated with Islam, is that your faith?


I am not OP and not muslim, but I hold a similar PoV:

The bank is a business, not your friend. In the 2008 crisis, banks (and hotels and many other businesses) had mailed the keys back to lenders when their non-recourse loans were underwater.

As long as one does not fraudulently acquire the credit, and makes a good faith effort to repay it, there is no problem.

It is NOT shameful for the bank to take interest, which takes into account both the lost-time-value-of-money (inflation and opportunity cost) and the probability of default. They are a business, and the interest takes defaulting loans into account.

It is NOT shameful to use bankruptcy if you qualify. It wasn't added to the legal code to give people a "get out of jail free" card - It was added because, done right, it is more helpful to society at large (as well as individuals) to be able to reset debts that cannot be paid.

So these things are as shameful, which is to say, not shameful.


Islam is mot the only religion which frowns on usury. Christianity for most of its' history condemned the practice, even if in modern times no one bothers to enforce it.

It was quite a contentious topic. St. Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas both condemned the practice, and the only positive (in favor of contemplation) I can find in a 3 minute search were the musings of Cardinal Hostiensis in the 13th century which were never elevated to the level of doctrine.

All in all, it is somewhat ironic that in the western world, a large part of the inner workings of the economy is predicated on practices condemned or otherwise historically shunned by the major 3 religions.

Yes, yes, I know, times change, women can work and vote, slavery ended, and all that, but there's still value in understanding those pesky historical details to keep one in the present from shooting oneself in the foot.

The main gist of Christian theological thinking though is that living on interest charged to others is immoral and sinful. Lending is a practice through which those that can absorb risk do so, with the hope of some reward come success of the venture. Lending only goes foul when the lender places their right to profit ahead of of their obligation to shoulder risk.

My two cents anyway.


What? Re-read the comment you just replied too.


The process itself is demeaning and success carries ten years of lasting, painful consequences. Moral pronouncements of shame and that one is a promise-breaker are superfluous and cruel.


One of the most insidious aspects of depression is thinking that you can solve it easily on your own. Holding the idea of "if I just do x, y, and z then I'll be ok" in front of you, then consistently failing cements the feeling that it's "your fault".


My depression only lifted after I switched to keto, I've been depressed for 30 years. Low energy and everything was a drag until the switch... People(psychiatrists and psychologists) don't want to hear it, but food is connected to how we feel.


I think this is understated. I went a different direction, but all the same, I think self-experimentation / personal science is worthwhile to that end. Diet and exercise should be the first line of defense.


The article is titled "Avoiding Problem Paralysis". The HN submission title is rather unfortunate, I think.


> My first real experience with depression occurred when I was 25. I had recently separated from my ex-wife, and our divorce was pending.

> My ex-wife had a tumultuous upbringing — her mother walked out on the family when she was eight, and her father died when she was 19, leaving her effectively the head of her household which included two younger brothers. She was at a time of great need, and we decided to get married because we were deeply in love, and I wanted to contribute to her stability.

Incredible amount of red flags here for a working marriage. I'm sorry this happened to OP, but I'm really surprised his parents didn't try to stop this way before it happened.


This corroborates how I got out of my own depression. No episode in particular caused it, just growing up around shitty people that mined my self-confidence and social skills.

How did I get out of it? Just like the author, a switch flipped. I could keep the status quo and be miserable, or I could do something about It. Read that again: We require a definition of "It".

I did therapy for years, which helped me learn how to organize my feelings and know myself better. What happened is that eventually I was able to identify all of what was making me sick - before that, I couldn't put it into words, I was simply miserable.

In my particular case it stemmed from spending my early childhood in a first world country and moving back to our third world country when I was 7. Dealing with the aggressiveness and irrationality of my native culture is something that left me unable to successfully integrate in that society. This in turn of course means I had few friends, trouble finding a girlfriend and difficulty entertaining myself. I had to find a way out. Moving out of course would be difficult. Third world salaries, family didn't support my decision to leave the country, no good way to insert myself in a first world society with security.

Fast forward 10 years: I managed to immigrate back into the first world through an education visa and convert it into a work visa. Have stable work with good pay, like-minded friendships, amazing girlfriend.

I still have "scars" from back then: some social awkwardness is still there, and sometimes I have blue days. But I know how to manage myself and work to identify and attend to what's bothering me.

The takeaway for me (not a doctor) is that some forms of depression manifest themselves in a healthy nervous system that's exposed to an adverse environment. We have some control over the environments we're in and that's where we should act.

Standard disclaimer - still look for a doctor. Therapy was enough for me, but it may be the case you needs drugs. Seek help. While you don't have to do this alone, you can take ownership and try to solve your problems, even though it might take years. It's worth fighting for.


I don't think anybody is "solving depression" by tackling problems some way or another.

Rather: you're getting out of your depression and that allows you to tackle problems.


Depression is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of experience, and includes different types of illness.

That makes a clumsy title -- "I solved the particular sub-type of depression I was experiencing with analytical thinking". We don't need that cumbersome language if we just remember that the word depression covers different stuff.


Sure, but that's not what I was trying to say. "The only times I left the room was to eat and use the bathroom" isn't "I was feeling kinda down because I suddenly was $60k in debt and I didn't know how to go about paying that off", and I don't believe that most people can climb out of a hole that deep by basically "just sorting your bills by importance".

I believe that, yes, you can greatly improve your situation by reducing external stressors. But you'll have to get to a point that allows you to do that first, and when you're basically either sleeping or staring at the wall all day, you are not in that state.

To me, "chicken or egg" is rather clear: the depression must give way enough so you can get things done that will improve it further. Suggesting otherwise sounds dangerously close to "hey, if you just wanted to, you could just get rid of depression" which puts suffering from depression close to "it's a choice" territory.


chicken and egg, are you in depression because of the problems you have ? Then solving them one by one will eventually end up removing depression (that was the case for me)


Being depressed and depression aren't the same thing though.

I feel like OP just used described how he fixed a problem that had him down.

Depression can occur without any real problems or issues. It's not something you can "just fix" by paying your bills.


I have suffered from depression. I have suffered from financial woes. I have discussed these matters with professionals.

Adverse life events can trigger depression episodes in some people, and when you’re in an episode, adverse circumstances can both feel worse and lengthen the time in the episode.

Finding a way to solve the problems or avoid them entirely is thus an important part of being as healthy as possible, but it is not in and of itself sufficient for maintaining or returning to health.


I have suffered from depression and there was a long list of issues that were solved along the way, in hindsight it feels like a step of stairs that had to be climbed, and finally I was out of the negative spiral and felt free of it.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: