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On Depression & Getting Help (robdelaney.tumblr.com)
148 points by revorad on Dec 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments



This is a very, very good lecture on depression: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAgplgTxfc

Honestly, I think the disorder should be renamed. People associate being "depressed" with the same feeling that they get if they drop their iPod into a lake. They're sad.

General sadness is one of many of the ways that depression as a cognitive disorder can manifest itself. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to friends with real, serious, dangerous depression and heard that there are people who tell them that they just need to get over it and cheer up.

You can't cure cancer with ice cream, same goes for depression.


"[I] heard that there are people who tell them that they just need to get over it and cheer up."

I do this. A great many of my friends and family do this too. I'm not sure why you find it so difficult to believe that there are people who do this.

It's basically impossible for people without depression to imagine what it's like to be physically incapable of eventually "cheering up" or "getting over it". This is often compounded by the fact that depression( along with asperger's )is the modern hypochondriac's condition of choice.

Combine inability to empathize with widespread attention whoring by people claiming to have depression when they don't, and it's quite easy to see why many people would react cynically or casually.

It's rather unfortunate for those who are genuinely stricken with mental illness, though.


>I'm not sure why you find it so difficult to believe that there are people who do this.

I didn't say that it was, I said that it was very common (which should indicate that it isn't difficult for me to believe).

>It's basically impossible for people without depression to imagine what it's like to be physically incapable of eventually "cheering up" or "getting over it".

This. Right here, exactly what you just said is the problem with people understanding this disease. "Cheering up" has absolutely nothing to do with getting over depression. This would be like feeding somebody with mono lots of redbull so that they would have more energy and wouldn't be sick anymore.

>It's rather unfortunate for those who are genuinely stricken with mental illness, though.

Yes, it is, and just about everything you wrote only serves to perpetuate the general lack of understanding that most people have when it comes to cognitive disorders.


I can't emphasize enough how important it is to seek treatment if you feel this way. For years, I just lived with it. I look back on those now as lost years when I could have accomplished a lot, but instead sat around accomplishing very little.

Some people resist medication because they're afraid it will make them not feel anything at all. While this can certainly be the case for some medications, there are enough of them that you can usually find one that doesn't dampen your emotions completely.

In my experience, antidepressants tend to put a 'floor' under your happiness; you don't fall down into the dark depths that are hard to escape from. You also don't become unhappy quite as easily; I found a big improvement in my ability to cope with external causes of stress and negativity.


Hypomania can affect mood.

Hypothyroidism can also affect mood.

Exercise can affect mood.

You need to speak with your doctor about all three (or more since we are all different), and you need to find out if you need medication to get you out of the rut.


I don't understand the purpose of this comment, but it seems vaguely as though it is to suggest that "depression" is not a sufficient name for his condition and that its treatment through anti-depressants not a sufficient answer.

I appreciate and support efforts to get people to continue to investigate their condition and to explore treatment options, but I bristle when it seems to stem from a kind of prejudice against psychology and psychiatry as it appears to here.

(As an aside: Hypomania is on the opposite end of the emotional disorder spectrum from depression. Mentioning it here is akin to telling someone complaining of constipation that they may want to speak with their doctor about diarrhea.)


"I bristle when it seems to stem from a kind of prejudice against [] psychiatry as it appears to here."

Why? The majority, of the research used to approve the most popular psychiatric drugs is outright fraudulent. And it's not like this is some undocumented fringe claim, there are literally dozens of books about this; the maker of the lexapro, drug the author is advocating, has racked up over 300 million dollars in fines this year alone for ethics violations related to the science of the drug in question. If you don't have a prejudice against psychiatry then you need to read more books.


Psychiatry is a branch of medicine based on the science of clinical psychology.

The actions of a given pharmaceutical company hardly invalidate the discipline as a whole.

Furthermore, a prejudice is never a good thing to have.


"The actions of a given pharmaceutical company hardly invalidate the discipline as a whole."

It's not just one pharmaceutical company, it's the entire industry. The pharmaceutical industry now tops not only the defense industry, but all other industries in the total amount of fraud payments for actions against the federal government under the False Claims Act.[1] And the psychiatric drugs are, drug for drug, by far the worst offenders. And even for the drugs that haven't racked up massive fines, their scientific support is somewhere between terrible and non-existent.

[1] http://www.citizen.org/hrg1924


So you're telling me that psychotropic drugs have essentially zero scientific support as treatment for psychopathology?


Yes, of course. Read Anatomy of an Epidemic, The Emperor's New Drugs, etc.

Robert Whitaker's blog is also really great, although you wouldn't necessarily have all the information you'd need to read it unless you've already read the book.


It's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The enterprise of psychology and its application is a worthwhile and fruitful one despite errant ideas and applications in the past or in some of its member practitioners.

To even dispute the efficacy of some aspect of psychology requires the practice of psychology.

I grant that there are dangerous abuses and manipulations of the approvals process and public opinion, but it is also important to note that many psychotropics have a place in the treatment of dysfunction.

I applaud that you are trying to spread the word about those abuses, but I encourage you to measure what you say so as not to group the nostrums and charlatans with the valid medications and practitioners of which many do exist.


Prejudice isn't a one way street- you could be described as prejudiced in favor of the Psychology/Psychiatry establishment.

Furthermore, there is a long history of criticism of Psychology, none of which you addressed. Clinical Psychology has very little data in its favor, and while biology-based approaches have had some success in certain areas, they aren't the same field, and I'm not sure that validates Clinical Pyschology.

The canonical references for this general strand of argument are Feynman's 'Cargo Cult Science' and Paul Lutus' 'Is Psychology Science?'.


I am not prejudiced because I am educated on the subject. I am therefore biased, at worst.

>Clinical Psychology has very little data in its favor.

This is borderline nonsense. Clinical psychology is the study of psychological pathology. It generates data, it doesn't require data in support of it.

>while biology-based approaches have had some success in certain areas, they aren't the same field, and I'm not sure that validates Clinical Pyschology.

They most certainly are in the same field. You clearly don't know what you're talking about on this point.

For the record, Lutus's essay, being fraught with half-truths and strawmen, is entirely unimpressive. If you are sincerely interested in understanding the value of psychology as a science, I suggest taking a closer look at its current state rather than a highly selective sampling of the most embarrassing examples that claim the title.


I've found out that even allergy can affect mood. Not in a good way. (I have no idea how common it is.)


Getting more and more common sadly. [Allergies in general]


We're heading into the time of year that I've always struggled the most with my chronic depression. I really have to force myself to get outside and get sunlight, exercise, and eat better than usual. Those three things go a long way. The short days and cold weather really make it hard.


Do you have a light box? Seasonal Affective Disorder has high co-morbidity with depression and getting the right amount of the right wavelengths of light at the right time has a surprisingly helpful effect. If you're into hacking in physical space (aka making stuff) set up your bedroom so that you get very bright light in the morning at a set time. Sunrise alarm clocks are crap so ignore them and build the system yourself.


force yourself into a routine, and it'll make it a whole lot easier. i also believe proper sleep cycles are especially important for those who are/have battled depression.


Thank you, Rob, for writing this. I figure I'll tell a short version of my story (ok, I tried to make this short, but it didn't really work out well) as well.

From an early age, my parents (both in the mental health field) recognized small symptoms of bipolar disorder in me -- periods of extreme energy and no sleep followed by lulls where I wouldn't want to do anything. However, they decided that the best course wasn't to do anything about it (or even tell me they had these concerns), as they figured it was just me being a kid. For what it's worth, I think they made the right choice.

I was 15 or so when I started seeing these symptoms for myself, and saw them becoming more extreme. I would spend weeks programming furiously on The Next Big Thing (TM), then fall into an equally low period, which usually lasted about twice as long as the high. Originally in these low periods I just had trouble focusing on anything, slept a lot, etc, but gradually I saw them change into something very different. I became suicidal, and the smallest thing would set me off. If I got into an argument with my parents, I would just think "is all this worth it?" and start spiraling downward. My girlfriend at the time is the only reason I made it through; she helped me realize that this wasn't normal, and that I really should do something about it.

At 16, I told my mom that I wanted to see Dr. D (a friend of the family, and probably the best psychiatrist in our small town). It came as no surprise to me to be diagnosed with bipolar I with rapid cycling; it wasn't uncommon to have extreme mood swings in between the longer periods, even happening several times a day at their worst.

He then started me on various drugs. I don't recall the order or combinations, but I was on -- at one point or another -- lithium, Lamictal, Abilify, carbamazepine, Depakote, and others I can't remember now. None of the standard mood stabilizers worked; I either felt completely numb or was sick as a dog. Lithium in particular made me feel worse than I ever have in my life, emotionally and physically. We tried a couple combinations to balance things out, but in the end the mood stabilizers just weren't helping; in retrospect, though, I wonder if they were and I just couldn't recognize it in myself. Regardless, the next step was anti-psychotics; I wanted to be put on anti-depressants, as the lows were what bothered me, but it was simply too risky -- if they were successful, they could well put me into mania that I couldn't control.

The anti-psychotics made me feel nothing. I don't know how I can explain this to someone who hasn't been there, but it's like your emotions just cease to exist. In theory, they worked, but a complete lack of emotions and creativity simply wasn't worth it. I was 17 by then, and I decided to stop taking all meds. I moved to San Diego for my first job shortly thereafter.

I rode on an extreme high for the first few months I was there, working 18+ hour days. I was a 17 year old making more money than he should've been, and I took advantage of it. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll really describes it well. I went to shows, I met a girl (whom I took a cab to every weekend, an hour and a half each way, then got engaged to a month after we started dating), drank a lot, etc. In short, I did everything that someone in the throws of mania would do. It took a while for this to catch up to me, but as always with bipolar, it did. I crashed hard, and if it weren't for my fiancee at the time, there's no way I could've made it through. I frequently thought about checking into a hospital, but I thought I needed to push through. I'm not sure if I made the right decision or not, still.

It took me a long time to really get myself in balance. The first step was to recognize what state I was in -- this is remarkably difficult. The next step was to learn how to bring myself back to normal when I started getting low, and I became quite good at it. Ignoring a few small fleeting thoughts, I haven't been suicidal in about 4 years. Then I learned how to embrace the manic side of it, and put it into my work without letting it go too far; I don't know that I ever really got very good at this, as my first two months in NYC have shown me lately.

A combination of a good support network (key for everyone, IMO, not just those suffering from mental illnesses), knowing myself, and knowing when to say "no" has been crucial in me largely stabilizing myself over the past few years. It's not perfect by any means, but it's working better for me than anything else has.

To close, I want to impress upon everyone the importance of getting help with mental illness. This doesn't necessarily mean medication (it certainly didn't in my case, even thought it was tried), but just knowing yourself is insanely important. Too many people refuse to get help, and end up in far worse place. I'm happy with my life as it stands, but it could easily have not gone this way.


"The anti-psychotics made me feel nothing. I don't know how I can explain this to someone who hasn't been there, but it's like your emotions just cease to exist."

I had that when I first took Ritalin. It was spooky, I was completely clinical and hyper-rational. Mr. Spock, basically. And the most disturbing part? I stopped hearing music in my head. I usually have a soundtrack of some kind in my brain, and it just stopped.

Eventually this wore off, the music and emotions came back, but it's damn freaky.

If anyone thinks they may have a mental illness, do some research (e.g., learn what MOA means, what serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine do, etc.), pay attention to what does or doesn't work, and find a doctor who will listen to you and take your self-evaluation and observations into account.

Finding the right meds (or determining if meds are even suitable) will require some trial and error, and if you can work well with your doctor you can reduce the missteps.


I guess everyone's different. My experience with Ritalin wasn't numbing at all; my problem with it was bouts of rage when i was coming down at the end of the day (my coworkers learned the true meaning of nerdrage). I talked to my doctor about it and he now has me on adderall instead, and the only side effect I experience now is loss of appetite - and I'm overweight anyway.

I'd like to mention that people should be very careful about seeking treatment with psychoactive drugs. They can often affect you in ways you don't immediately realize, and in some respects affect your personality or inhibitions. Be sure that you and your family are aware of potential side-effects before undergoing such treatments.


> I stopped hearing music in my head. I usually have a soundtrack of some kind in my brain, and it just stopped.

This sounds wonderful to me. I'm always thinking to the beat of one song or another and sometimes it really bothers me, as if I'm wasting brain cycles.


Some machines hum differently when they run.

Do you feel cycles are wasted when visualizing a problem? The music is just a different thinking language.


Sounds kind of familiar. I always read such write-ups with great respect and some sort of fear as I know how easily and quickly it can become 'wrong', so as to speak. Could you please be more specific with this though:

    The next step was to learn how to bring myself back to
    normal when I started getting low, and I became quite
    good at it.
I've been tying to do that myself with no success so far. Also, I seem to have become different through years as the maniac phases are very short now and the low phases are very long — but I've learnt not to take any decision during those phases so I suppose I'm already on the safe side.

Thanks for sharing.


When I start to fall into a period of depression, I withdraw from the world; I don't go out, I don't talk to people, I feel miserable doing anything. How do I counter it? By forcing myself to talk to people, by working on something (it doesn't matter what -- if you don't write 1 line of code, you won't write 10), by going and doing something fun with a friend (e.g. watching a movie). It's hard, it sucks, but it typically works decently.


i think you bring up a great point. it's all about forcing yourself to get up & do something...anything. when I had my really bad bout with depression, i just kept reading until i worked my way out of the funk.

Give yourself a thirst for knowledge. Read. Read. Read!


What daeken said. Improving my mood translates almost exactly into simply acting like I would if I wasn't depressed. I don't try to pretend to be happy or fake it (though I do use cognitive therapy techniques.) Instead, I just try to do the same activities I would do if I wasn't depressed. I call someone on the phone and ask them how they're doing instead of sitting and thinking about myself. I make a healthy dinner instead of ordering pizza. I get some exercise instead of lying on the couch. If I work, I release myself from self-criticism (I'm so slow, I'm hopelessly stupid, I'm accomplishing nothing) and concentrate on the work instead. If I watch a movie, I allow myself to enjoy it instead of thinking the whole time about how much I suck and how I should be doing something productive instead.

It's hard to do those things, of course. The essence of depression is hopelessness. For me, it's hopelessness about myself, a deep conviction of my own worthlessness and the impossibility of ever not being ashamed of myself. When you think that way, it's hard to see the point of making dinner or going for a run. Long term, the biggest factor for me was to slowly learn to disregard the reality of depression. By now I have a long enough perspective on my life and my depression that I am better at seeing it as a temporary illusion. I knew a girl who had persistent auditory hallucinations; she heard voices constantly, angels and demons mostly. She knew they weren't real. At least she said she knew, and she usually did, but when she didn't, it was a problem. Coping with depression is a bit like that -- a constant effort to disregard what your brain thinks it knows. So when I go out the door for a run, or start cooking dinner, a big and very persuasive part of my brain is convinced it's stupid and pointless, even while it's making me feel better. By the time I'm done running or cooking, I'm completely aware -- with my whole brain -- that it was worthwhile, and the fact that I've accomplished something worthwhile in itself discredits the illusion. That doesn't completely dispel the depression, not for long. Soon enough, the next activity I want to make myself do still feels stupid and pointless. But it makes it easier to cope, and it reduces the severity of the symptoms.

The older I get, the more consistently I manage to make myself do the things that make me feel better. When I was younger, depression was overwhelming and terrifying. Now it's mostly just miserable instead of scary. Especially now that I know I can hold down a job through a bout of depression, and my friends won't desert me, it's a lot less frightening.


This describes my experience well, but I think it is worth pointing out that what I (and I can only describe myself here because I don't want to assume you are the same) have could be described as mild depression. What the OP describes would be, I assume, described clinically as severe depression.

I have been able to "self medicate" like you with exercise, diet, rigorous organizing and planning tools, and other ways of "ignoring" what my brain tells me to do. When I was younger, I was briefly on medication and did not like the side effects, and I have been lucky enough to be able to cope with the tools I have at my disposal. I do not believe this is possible for people with severe depression, and highly encourage them to seek professional help.


Having been through similar bouts of depression in my teens and early twenties I also adopted some of daekan's techniques.

Personally, another thing that has helped me greatly is to preempt situations that have caused me to become depressed in the past. Because at least for me, it's incredibly hard to get past the hopelessness and despair without hitting rock bottom, and there's a lot of damage done before that happens. For me it's more economical to spend extra effort avoiding the depressive moments altogether than digging myself out of them.

So nowadays I just avoid things that trigger or resonate with those depressive emotions. So, I'll eschew watching movies that people describe as sad or depressing, no matter how good they might be. I don't fill my reading list with tragedies or existential dramas. I'm more picky in the type of music I listen to and purposely reduce the frequency with which I listen to melancholic songs.

I noticed talking about my negative emotions empowered them and gave them more substance. So now I only allow myself a limited number of instances to talk about my problems. Going to a therapist helped with this as it isolated those moments to a specific place, time and person. Thus reducing the desire to wallow in those negative thoughts with friends and acquaintances.

I've also removed people in my life who were extremely focused on their problems and misfortunes and replaced them with more active and happier people. Basically I've made an effort to befriend people that compliment my weaknesses (staying active and upbeat) instead of reinforcing them.

Being involved in periodic activities with others has also helped greatly. Like meeting with my old DnD group, despite being idle entertainment, was incredibly useful in getting me out of the house during weekends when I would be most tempted to stay in and be left alone with my thoughts.

The final thing was recognizing what situations, places and events are depressive triggers and avoid them like the plague. For example, I can't travel alone for extended periods: being isolated in a foreign country is an instant depressant. So now I always try to travel with friends or companions and that ends up being more enjoyable to boot.

Anyways, thanks to all who shared their experiences.


> just knowing yourself is insanely important.

Brilliant pun, more so if it was unintended! :-)

Hmm, I suppose a sense of humour helps, too?


>The anti-psychotics made me feel nothing. I don't know how I can explain this to someone who hasn't been there, but it's like your emotions just cease to exist. In theory, they worked, but a complete lack of emotions and creativity simply wasn't worth it

The thing that's always scared me away from meds is the worry that I'll have a similar experience, but knowing that withdrawal (particularly for SSRIs) can last for months and lead to symptoms that look like depression itself.


Really appreciate this article, as someone who has struggled with depression extensively and (more or less) come out the better for it. People who are experiencing the worst depression can mete out feel empty, desperate and alone in a way that is almost indescribable to anyone who has not felt that way. It's important for them to know that people care, are happy to speak with them, and that those who have had similar experiences have, eventually, found a happier and better existence.


Beutiful article. For what its worth, i think society is coming around to mental illness. At least so in law enforcement. There are a whole brand new range of policies and proceedures for recognizing and addressing the signs,where as historacly they were much more abrasove and counter productive. However, i believe most of mankinds 21 st century mental illness issues area result of the industrial age where people are spending increasinly longer amounts of there waking hours in the abscence of sunlight. A study conducted by vanderbuilt university revealed that vitamin d3 was able to enhance the uv saturation produced synthetically by uv box lights on a populous of patients suffering from seasonal effectiveness disorder which is depression from lack of exposer to sunlight. I have stated taking vit d3 and have noticed a significant change in the dark montjs alone. You might want to ask your psyc about it to see if he would let you take it alongside rhe lexapro


I'm a psychiatrist, an it is my great pleasure to treat people and see them get better. I'm glad this was posted to increase awareness of the seriousness of a Major Depression. It's a very misunderstood condition. Hope you continue to feel better.


This being Hacker News, my first thought was "Holy crap on a cracker - Andrew Koenig is dead!?!". Then I discovered there is another Andrew Koenig of whom I'd never heard, and it wasn't the author of Traps and Pitfalls who'd died.

Just thought I'd mention it.


Man, this is serious! My wife is on a challenging treatment, and one of its side effects is depression. That opened my eye on a whole new meaning for the word. Thank you!


I've had some unfortunate things happen to me, in turn which gave me extreme depression and PTSD. What I did was pretty simple... I did everything I could do to have a good nights sleep. If that meant exercise, better food etc, I did it.

Now it's manageable without any various medications, doctors etc and that makes me feel pretty awesome.

P.S. The Beatles would always make me cry when I was on a low. Heh.


I've been battling depression for years(binge and fasting cycles, not leaving the house for days on end, sleeping 14-16hrs a day) and I'd like help but I'm afraid the medication will affect my creativity. Do any creative people have experience with what medicines to try and which if any to avoid? Thanks.


Speaking from personal experience, worrying about creativity is the least of your problems when talking about depression. In my own case, I'd spend 4-6 months without doing anything at all besides sleeping. No side-projects, no programming, no guitar, nada; sleep, watch TV and sleep some more. Once I started taking medications I started programming again, going out, exercising a bit. Once you get to the point where depression is stopping you from doing anything, creativity is worthless (since you're not creating anything).

I haven't found any serious consequence of taking the meds (Zoloft, Elavil and Remeron) w/r/t my creativity. I can still do the same things I used to do before, while mantaining the same level of quality. I've also found that it helps me push myself harder, which is pretty good.


Depression is far from my real issue. (I am rarely depressed and if it lasts more than 3 days, it is usually due to anemia.) But I do have a serious medical issue that is normally treated with quite a lot of medication. I found the drug side effects more crippling than my (deadly) illness. I have made a lot of dietary and lifestyle changes and gotten off about 8 or 9 different prescription drugs -- and gotten my life back. If you really want to get better and also avoid medication, it may be possible to do exactly that.

Peace and good luck.



"What works for depression (and what doesn't)."

http://bluepages.anu.edu.au/treatments/what_works/


St. John's Wort is as effective as anti-depressants?

I'm skeptical of this page and encourage others to be as well.


http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/play/snake-oil-supplem...

This data visualization suggests that saying that St. John's Wort isn't really snake oil.


I am so pleased to find that this is a simple personal testimony about the value of professional treatment and support.

I was expecting to find a folksy anecdote or some "hack," and I was pleasantly surprised.


"[Lexapro] addressed some chemical issues in my brain"

Citation needed. Sorry, just because you have depression that doesn't give you a free pass to make stuff up.


Why do people keep treating depression as a medical condition? You are depressed because your life sucks. Fix it or accept it. <eom>


No, it's definitely chemical.

One of the symptoms of depression is ahedonia, the inability to experience pleasure. It is a very strange experience.

One day I went outside and it was a beautiful sunny day, and I couldn't enjoy it. Not that I was so sad the sunny day didn't matter. It did nothing. It was like I was looking at it through a store window, but my world was overcast and gray.

One day I went to play at a pool with my newborn son. It was a beautiful day, he was laughing, kids were frolicking and playing. I felt nothing. Not the slightest reaction. As if they weren't there.

I have a beautiful life. No financial stress. My family is awesome. My job is awesome. I don't do anything reckless or self-destructive. I have lots of hopes for the near future. But many days, I didn't care if I lived or died, didn't care if I missed so much work I got fired, didn't care if I alienated my family, didn't care that I was cold even though there was a blanket within arm's reach.

Medication resulted in a nearly immediate improvement, and a slow return to normalcy. And it is definitely the medication. One day I missed my meds, and I went into a three day long tailspin during which I couldn't care enough about anything to make even small decisions like whether to have lunch or how to put my socks on.


I'm also struggling with anhedonia and amotivation for years. I don't have the much of the sadness, hopelessness and other common symptoms so I've discounted the depression hypothesis. Maybe I should reconsider and see a psych.


Out of curiosity, which medication were you taking?


Really? I have an amazing job, great friends, and every toy a man could want. I'm insanely happy with my life, yet I can see myself falling into depression right now. Depression != sadness or stress.


Surely that's extremely common. If you have every toy you could want, what's left to do?

Surely that's why several millionaires go up, go to excess, lose it all etc.


Make more money, start a family, buy a house. Plenty left to be done. Manic/depressive cycles have been a part of my life through good times, bad times, and those in between.


Just saying, when everything seems 'easy' and you're making money without really trying, I've felt low at the points when I've experienced that. I think it's completely natural to feel depressed when life doesn't feel like a challenge. It seems to be common amongst autobiographies I've read also.


It gets treated like a medical condition because it has, at least in part, physiological roots. Yes, people can get depressed because their life sucks and they feel powerless to fix it. But people can also get depressed because they are ill, because there is something wrong with their brain chemistry, etc. Some studies have shown a connection between diet and depression. Others indicate that exercising more is more effective than drugs for treating depression. So there is definitely a medical aspect to it, even though, yes, sometimes fixing your life (rather than your body) is what is needed.


Watch this short film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBikj3kRco

It tells the story of John Kirwin, a legendary Rugby player here in New Zealand. He was supposed to be living the dream as one of the best and toughest Rugby players in the world, yet depression still got the better of him.

From the outside it's easy to tell someone to "harden up" but that does no good when the person is going through a personal hell.


This guy is being unfairly downvoted. A not insignificant number of cases of depression are rooted in not cultivating proper emotional awareness, and then ignoring the body's emotional signals. But people are unwilling and, frankly, unable to take responsibility for their emotional life so this attitude is an unpopular one. Also worth pointing out is that it's unrealistic to expect that everyone can be happy, some unhappiness is essential to social stability.


I downvoted you for the same reason I downvoted the other guy.

You are speaking in vague generalities, with authority, on matters about which you are apparently ignorant. Moreover, your propagating this misinformation is detrimental to attitudes about depression, both for those who might be afflicted and the public as a whole.

Depression is a serious problem which should be addressed through science, credible education, and consultation with professionals.

The comment you are defending is utterly asinine. Persistent depression is far more likely to be the result of cognitive-behavioral factors and/or physiological factors rooted in genetics than it is to be the result of bad life circumstances aside from some negative extremes.

Furthermore, you grant that people are "unable to take responsibility for their emotional life" and yet somehow also support the patent contradiction to that idea in suggesting that "fix it or accept it" is acceptable advice.

Your final line (in addition to conflating freedom from depression with "being happy") belies a kind of moralistic thinking about mental health. Would you say that broken legs are essential to social stability? Or ulcers?


You make an excellent point. I should have distinguished between severe depression and dysthymia. I do not know much about severe depression but I have plenty of knowledge about dysthymia. Many people casually conflate the two and I made that fundamental error in my post. My apologies.


I appreciate that. I honestly don't care about winning arguments or looking smart on this point. I just wanted to get out my critique of your post for people to read after yours so they can see another angle.

Warm regards.


They're not being downvoted unfairly. Yours was a nuanced and considered opinion (and I upvoted); theirs was absolute and unreasonable.


No worries, bro. One doesn't live by karma points (that would be pretty sad).

I'd say that it's pretty funny that so many people took it upon themselves to explain how their life is so perfect and that any possible explaination for their depression could not lie in that their life sucks.

The reality is that most people's lives suck (including mine and yours) and that most people spend their lives covering up how their lives suck by buying more crap, settling & self-medication. As you said, if it didn't suck, human civilization would not progress.

People make a simple problem into a much more complicated one. If your life sucks, then fix it or accept it. The caveat is that you have to either man up to fix it or swallow your pride to accept it.


Send me an email if you feel like it

Edit: on second thought, don't. It probably won't help me overcome any of my personal rationalizations or bring me any closer to my goals. But I have a recommendation. Read Nassim Taleb's Bed of Procrustes.


Funny because the next book I'm going to read is Nassim Taleb's "Dynamic Hedging" which I'll try to apply to my volatility trading. IMHO, Taleb is an expert in finance not in life in general.


ok, so who is an expert on life? and have they published a book?


Being depressed is not like being unhappy, it's like being dead. It's not sadness, or fear, or grief or any other normal human emotion. Grief and sadness are mental manifestations, and they have character and facets which may be approached and reasoned with. But depression is physical. It is the void, infinite and eternal, pounding incessantly from every single cell of your body. Terror and hopelessness, real emotions for sure, are just a side-effects of this physical sensation. There is no reasoning with depression, because it is entirely physical, and it often robs you of any faculties which you might otherwise muster to defeat it. The author is quite correct - it is deadly.


No, he's not being unfairly downvoted, and I cannot upvote you either. You are basically talking out of your ass...please cite figures to back up what you mean by "a not insignificant number". And how, pray tell, is some unhappiness essential to "social stability", whatever that may be...


Simple. Human nature is about survival and reproduction. Resources are limited so that only some of us will survive and reproduce. Scarcity produces unhappiness which in term induces human productivity/creativity.

Case in point, Love in the Time of Cholera. You want to get the girl but you are a victim of socioeconomic scarcity. You become a life-long melancholic but are motivated to climb the social/professional ladder to get what it is that you couldn't get in the first place. All great literature, music, scientific discoveries were of products of unrequited love, jealousy, or the urge to overcome a self-inferiority complex.


>Scarcity produces unhappiness

Beyond a basic level, this fails to be true.

>which in term induces human productivity/creativity.

Show me that depression leads to greater productivity. I expect that you cannot.

>climb the social/professional ladder to get what it is that you couldn't get in the first place.

This has nothing to do with depression and little to do with happiness.

>All great literature, music, scientific discoveries were of products of unrequited love, jealousy, or the urge to overcome a self-inferiority complex.

This is trite, wildly hyperbolic, and almost certainly baseless.


Not necessarily. Depression paralyzes you, leaves you too scared to leave the house or do anything.

"Stars" are more likely to be hypomanic. Or just people who like writing or composing music too much :) People like to blame success on mental disease or drugs because it helps them justify their laziness. Also, attempt to claim that Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Kobain wrote their music because they had a self-inferiority complex might be caused by the self-inferiority complex and envy :P



> Also worth pointing out is that it's unrealistic to expect that everyone can be happy, some unhappiness is essential to social stability.

Thank you for this. This was one of the most important things I learned out of my (pretty) mild depression. Since then whenever I see people pretending to always be happy or at least striving to always be happy I sense that there's something wrong. That, and the thing that I began to understand what the Stoics were saying a little bit more (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism)


Be careful not to be cynical - happiness works on a bell curve much like intelligence or height. Some people are naturally much happier than average.




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