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Anxious tech workers are going to therapy (nytimes.com)
213 points by tysone 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 256 comments

I deleted all my tweets. Killed the app. Killed the Reddit app. Killed Instagram. Killed Facebook. I need to reactivate FB and do a dump of my data, but I’m dreading that. I just want the photos.

I’m finding solace in boredom and using that as a catalyst for change. I’ve been reading more, already finished three books in the last few weeks. I’m on a mission to pour rocket fuel on my personal consulting business.

I’m also seeing a psych and a psychotherapist. It’s helping, albeit slowly.

Eliminate cognitive load. Eliminate distractions. Eliminate things from your life that don’t bring you joy and happiness. Do it. Rip it off like a bandaid. Every little minuscule things counts and adds up to the “death by a thousand cuts” anxiety ridden life we are all enduring.

Ignite a fire in the forest that is your life and let all the shit burn to the ground. The big strong redwoods will remain. Don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals.

We are only on this earth for one life. I only get to watch the Super Bowl maybe 30 more times. I only get to own so many more vehicles. I only get to spend time with my dogs for so long.

It’s not just tech workers. Everyone is struggling. Be good to yourself.

Great comment and kudos to you, but a couple thoughts on the following:

“Eliminate things from your life that don’t bring you joy and happiness.”

I see this sentiment a lot in the techie self-help sphere, along with corrolaries like “ruthlessly eliminate negative people”. While I understand the motivation and agree it is true up to a point, it can also lead to a shallow and avoidant approach to life if you get carried away with it. Many of the most potentially rich and satisfying aspects of life are also the most dark, difficult, and complex when they go wrong. You shouldn’t always run away.

The trick is to find a balance—sink some roots into the inherently chaotic and often ‘negative’ emotional substrate of life without letting yourself get pulled under. Offset the weight with lightness, but don’t try to avoid carrying any weight whatsoever.

>it can also lead to a shallow and avoidant approach to life if you get carried away with it.

There is nothing wrong with taking this approach, while you get yourself back on track. I've gone through this myself. Became an "asshole" in some peoples' eyes - "Why should I attend that social event? What am I going to get out of it? Nah, pass". They've gotten over it. So have I.

Truly though, who gives a shit, if that is what you need. Like OP said, it's your life. Do what you need to do for you. If you keep investing in things that suck the life out of you endlessly, it's going to drag you to a dark place, which is no good for anyone.

I trust selfish people more than I trust "selfless" people. Simply because selfish people are less likely to snap, and take out all of their repressed frustration at a seemingly random time.

It's taken me a while, but now I have a more diplomatic approach to extending my personal energy to benefit those around me, or invest in projects, work, etc.

You are right. It requires balance. However, you should not be afraid to tip the scales the other way for a while, so that you can refactor your priorities.

hey I really needed to see this today. thanks.

Thanks for this.

I feel like this notion of tossing things that are unpleasant is pervasive in California, in a way that it wasn’t where I grew up, in Texas.

As you say, there is a lot of value in sticking with shit that can be really irritating, and hard.

In Texas, they go too far the other way, and tolerate things for longer than they sometimes should.

Funny how that tendency maps so well to the foundations of their politics (progress / conservation). As usual, the right way is somewhere in the middle.

Interesting observation.

I think it’s true. My take on it: Mostly occurs because California is filled with people who come from somewhere else. It is filled with restless people who are goal oriented and need results to be filled with joy.

I think places with more rooted populations find their joy in people and not goals. They are not on the move. There is a certain personality that thinks..I am going to move cities, zip codes, countries, jobs ..in search of something better. Always something better than where I am now. They are never going to be happy with status quo for long..joy is always a moving target. That’s what makes them tick. That’s what makes them good at what they do. People are people.

I think this is what is supposed to be true diversity. Diverse personalities. I find diversity based on skin colour or language or gender etc are such shallow classifications. Considering that, I don’t think we have diversity at all..because birds of a feather flock together.

Utah Phillips phrased it as "People back East have a tremendous sense of place, here in the West, we have a tremendous sense of event."

> “Eliminate things from your life that don’t bring you joy and happiness.”

The key here is to have a long-term view of this. Obviously this doesn't mean to disown your relationships with anybody who didn't bring you joy this week, but you should look at the history of the relationship, and how you think the relationship will be in the future, and decide whether or not the relationship is really a value add in your life.

The idea of eliminating negativity is problematic because, sometimes, relationships that are the most challenging are also ones that end providing fulfillment and personal growth.

Outcomes are often impossible to predict in advance because you just can't know which relationships will end up challenging you in ways that help you grow. Also, you and your circumstances will change and those changes will affect the nature and affect of your relationships.

I'm not saying one should cannot or should not make decisions about who to keep close in one's personal life. I am saying, however, that predictions about the future value of any personal relationship is as likely to be mistaken as correct.

I don't think relationships should be about maximizing one's potential, whatever "maximizing" may mean. Relationships are important and so is happiness, but I don't think relationships should be cultivated and curated in the service of maximum happiness.

I think you might be interpreting my comment a little too far into "stick your head into the sand" territory. That is not at all what I am advocating. It's important to be realistic and a part of the world around you ... but it's very clear that people have too much shit in their lives and need to get rid of a lot of it.

Re: Ruthlessly eliminate negative people

I'm undoubtedly the most negative person in my life.

Well at least you have that going for you!

> I'm undoubtedly the most negative person in my life.

This can change, it takes work.

Easier to change yourself than change someone else!

Famous last techie words

This is basically Bentham vs Mill utilitarianism for anyone that wants to explore how at least humanity’s great balancing act has been recorded over hundreds of years.

But to summarize — you should optimize for things like quality of happiness rather than happiness units. And this gets messy and you will make bad calls, it’s a moral framework for decision making no one has a perfect system. But be optimizing for great happiness and make those long term investments.

I think the parent commenter made some great points about social media, but I was going to say something about that line as well.

This seems to be a really common sentiment, and I could not disagree more. At worst, it comes across as severely narcissistic. At best, it's avoidance of reality.

Joy and Happiness are fleeting emotions. If you felt them all the time for something, over just a little bit of time you would not.

Yeah, I feel like joy and happiness are side effects of a meaningful life, not the cause.

The value of boredom cannot be overstated.

The "always on" culture that has become prevalent in the past decade has, in my opinion, contributed greatly rising angst/anxiety/stress.

We don't give our brains any time to rest anymore. Most people start and end the day by injecting thousands of images, words, and ideas into their thoughts via screens with no time to process and "clear the queue" so to speak.

I've start implementing "nothing" days once every two to three weeks. These days are spent with absolute 0 screen time. At first it was extremely difficult to detach, but after the first couple hours of the day, I start to feel more centered and at ease. Reading, talking, getting out of the house, sitting on a park bench, visiting a museum, investing time in a hobby - all these things help remind me WHY I spend so many waking hours working and being connected.

I won't ever advocate for the complete removal of technology from all aspects of life. But, as in all things, boundaries are very important.

After much back and forth and introspection on this topic I just went ahead and became a Zen Buddhist.

I don't think we can function as humans without regular long, meaningful detachment from all these digital tools.

There's a lot of ways to do it. But I feel like everyone needs to pick one.

If you don't mind, a question: do you believe in reincarnation?

That's always seemed like a barrier to consciously 'accepting' Zen, the way one might accept Confucianism or utilitarianism or any other moral philosophy.

Interesting question. I would say that honestly I don’t, in the sense that I have any degree of certainty that it happens.

But I also have no degree of certainty that it doesn’t happen.

One of the core concepts of Zen is abandoning western concepts of duality. I’m increasingly willing to be confortable with the idea that I have no ability to conceptualize and verbalize the concept of myself existing before life or after death, and likely never will.

So it’s not that I will or won’t, it’s not really a yes or no answer. More like a NaN answer.

Yeah. Smartphones and tablets have filled up the usual breaks the human brain has had for the first 200k or so years of its existence. Always-on has to have maladaptive effect on creatures that didnt evolve with it.

That's a great idea, I have been thinking about doing this as well, I need to just do it.

> I’m finding solace in boredom and using that as a catalyst for change

Yes, this is exactly it! Perfectly summarized my day-to-day after doing everything you listed on that first paragraph. Hackernews a few times a day at most for no more than 5 minutes at a time is all the social media for me.

Not seeing a therapist or anything but my outdoor activities are therapy for me personally, in their own way. Started riding my motorcycle again. Just generally treating myself better, spending tons of time working out and having way more energy, and more time to explore ideas and trying things.

The last distraction I still have is my phone, which goes on airplane mode for a good chunk of the day. Do Not Disturb mode for the rest. I'm done with it all.

20 years ago no one would have ever stood for all the shit distractions that bombard us constantly today. People called and texted... and waited hours and sometimes days for a reply, if they got it at all.

On that subject, the only way to break the expectation that are "always available" is... to not be always available. Just turn that shit off. Don't reply unless you absolutely have to.

It's liberating.

Absolutely! For years I’ve had my phone on a mode where I do not get notified of anything but emails and all the special VIP stuff so my wife/family can reach me. It actually began because a bud of mine tends to text like he is on AIM. He will send three words at a time and blow me up with a dozen notifications for one cognitive thought.

Anyway... my phone is beholden to me. I choose when I open apps. I have notifications disabled for virtually everything. I also have it on perma-silent. It will vibrate once for certain things... and ring only when those aforementioned special people call me. At 9pm it goes into do not disturb. At 7am it goes back to normal.

My wife on the other hand... good grief. She is a solo dog walker / sitter and is getting bookings CONSTANTLY. Her phone sounds like R2-D2 having an aneurism. I’m working on her... but she has insane FOMO since she is still gaining a strong foothold in our community. It’s tough to talk to her about this stuff because she’s right in the midst of it: anxious, worried she will miss client messages, worried she will miss a booking, etc... so until that dies down a bit it’s not even worth pursuing with her. I hope she can eventually get to this level, though, and realize that she will be much happier when she controls her attention instead of allowing others to do it.

People are afraid to be left alone with their own thoughts even for a minute.... It's just terrifying to them. They cannot confront them head on, so they whip out their phone and check Instagram. Oh, look, a dog!

Personally my issue with my work in tech is the cognitive dissonance between the collective belief that we’re all “changing the world” and the reality that most of us are doing very little to do that and/or that deep down we actually believe that the company we are working for actually has a net negative effect on the world.

I realized this about 6 months ago, and this is exactly why I decided to start my own company. People that truly want to change the world should do the same, unless you fear instability more than you desire to change the world.

Serious question: why does starting a company equate to changing the world? The vast majority of companies sell some good or service for a fee, which is of course super important for society but not exactly world changing. I guess the hope is you can grow your company large enough to have a major impact without selling out so much as to just care about profits and shareholders?

> deleted all my tweets. Killed the app. Killed the Reddit app. Killed Instagram. Killed Facebook.

I agree with the bulk of your comment, but I couldn't help but notice...

If the solution is to not use all these apps, apps that are being developed by those very same anxious workers, what does it say about silicon valley's sunny optimism that they are changing the world for the better?

Does anyone else feel it's paradoxical?

It became paradoxical as soon as you could step outside the offices of SomeTechCo.(ly) in SF., and literally find the sidewalk littered with homeless humans, human waste and needles.

I'm not saying there is any correlation. Merely that if tech companies in the SF Bay area cared about 'making a difference' - there is ample opportunity to do so, literally outside their door.

> silicon valley's sunny optimism

This is all marketing hype speak from the type-a extrovert hustlers at the top. No sane person truly believes things like FB etc... are changing the world.

Considering the extent and the societal and political ramifications of the mountains of propaganda being disseminated on Facebook, as well as the outcome of the 2016 election, it is clear that FB is changing the world... for the worst.

> what does it say about silicon valley's sunny optimism that they are changing the world for the better?

It's cover for their employees to make the world a worse place, while collecting massive checks, and not feel bad for it.

I don't think it's working anymore.

Welcome. I spent the last 6 months doing exactly the same thing and was able to create enough time to start the company I've been talking about for years.

Social media is a curse on our society's mental wellbeing, even if it can be a very useful tool in spreading important information.

I'm actually working on a book which documents my process I developed to do this for myself. Mental models, different perspectives on your habits and vices, etc. Please let me know if you have anything that's worked for you. I think this is something everyone should do.

I haven't seeked help from professionals yet but I will definitely consider it.

I'd love to read it when you've finished it!

Approaching it from changing mental models, perspectives and learning new skills is how we view mental health issues management/prevention. If you're interested in this angle, you should try out one of our sessions at Mindset. It'd be really great to hear what you think of them.

I'm not a writer so I'll let you know when it happens. It may be years from now, but I'm steadily working on it! :)

I'll check out Mindset, thanks. (I couldn't find it on google, send a link if you don't mind)

I'll be waiting!

It's only on the Apple App Store at the moment, if you search Mindset on the App Store it will be the first non-ad app.

Ahh unfortunately I don't have an iOS device. Is it on MacOS too? I have a Macbook for work

You should create a landing page so that people who are interested in the book could subscribe and get updates.

I was thinking of making it a blog because that's kind of how I've been writing it for myself.

And then organizing and compiling it into a book.

That's also a good idea which would allow you to get feedback.

I recommend you to read Taylor Pearson's article on how he approached writing and marketing his book:


A shorter version written by me can be found here:


Update your profile with an email address! I’d love to stay in touch.


Edit: done! Can't wait to hear from you, I'd love some more ideas to put into the book.

I'm in the "anxiety ridden life" mode and can't seem to find a way out. Trying to find a therapist but health insurance doesn't cover mental health. Trying to decide if it's worth paying someone to listen to my first-world problems...

I pay out of pocket too, and it hurts, but it hurts more when you are in a deep hole and feel like there is no way out. For a while I was paralyzed and was unable to even earn income ... which is a far greater problem than having to allocate funds for therapy.

Let go of control and hand it to someone else for a while. Give it a shot, even if for just one or two sessions to start.

When I was depressed with cash flow issues, that was certainly a rough place to be. The only advice I have if you're in that situation is to power through it, and accept it's gonna suck for a while. If you're going through hell, keep going (or something like that).

therapy is worth it. Any problem affecting you is a real problem that needs addressing. The "first world problems" meme is just for funny quotes/pics, not real life.

Others might chime in, but I say yes, a good therapis is worth it. What country are you in and do you know why mental health is not covered?

Here's what keeps me on social media:

* YIMBY activism. Facebook especially is a great, low-friction way to get new people involved.

* FB can be a great way of sharing, say, photos of kids or activities or events with people who are... maybe a bit more peripheral than friends I see every day, but who I still find value in keeping in touch with.

> * FB can be a great way of sharing, say, photos of kids or activities or events with people who are... maybe a bit more peripheral than friends I see every day, but who I still find value in keeping in touch with.

What got me off Facebook (>3y ago, not a passing whim) was the realisation that I found no value in keeping in touch with people I was only 'in touch with' via Facebook.

> * YIMBY activism. Facebook especially is a great, low-friction way to get new people involved.

Okay, that probably helped too. ;)

I think there is a difference between "people I added on a whim and don't actually know" and "my cousin that lives out of state", for example.

I pretty aggressively prune my facebook friend list. I think I'm at something like 68 friends right now. The majority of them are actually older family members who like my random rants about the antics our kids get into.

Basically if I add someone on facebook and they aren't actively part of my life or social / family circle, they get culled.

It seems like a nice compromise.

> I think there is a difference between "people I added on a whim and don't actually know" and "my cousin that lives out of state", for example.

Yeah, an example might be my 4th grade teacher that I liked a lot and added me. She's a sweet lady who's almost 90 at this point. Not sure I would have had any contact with her otherwise, but it makes me happy to see what she's up to.

>What got me off Facebook (>3y ago, not a passing whim) was the realisation that I found no value in keeping in touch with people I was only 'in touch with' via Facebook.

This. If you're only interested in keeping in touch with people as long as it takes zero effort on your part that means that you don't really want to stay in touch with said person. Once I realized that, being done with social media was easy. I run a nextcloud instance that allows me to share photos and large files with family, and anyone for that matter.

Facebook is legit changing. It is pushing me updates from small groups I belong to, some of which are people I've known for over 20 years now back from the earlier web.

What appears in my feed seems very curated.

I also don't have friends who post random political news stuff.

My FB feed has become enjoyable and fun now. I get to see my friend who moved out of the big city to start a farm run her now successful farm. I get to see my friend who moved to Germany talk about work/life balance in another country. I get to see my friend who is a prof at college talk about his student's essays.

Honestly... it is sorta nice now. It wasn't a year ago, but these last few months have been great.

Reddit is completely what you make of it. I belong to some super positive communities, some great recipe groups, and some technical subreddits. I get an endless feed of healthy food suggestions, opportunities to help out students just entering the work force, and some awesome discussions on science and engineering topics. /r/askculinary is great and I've had multiple people reach out to me due to my activities helping people out on various smaller programming subreddits.

I spend more time on HN than either of the above.

> Eliminate cognitive load. Eliminate distractions.

Agreed! My reddit feed is small enough that if I refresh it after an hour, odds are nothing new will show up! Facebook is similar now, it is no longer an endlessly scrolling list of stuff, honestly after 10-15 minutes I am back to where I was yesterday. Overall it is a win for FB because I have gone from "0" to "10 minutes", even though I imagine these changes may have made some of their heaviest users drop their total engagement time. If they can get more people back on the platform, it may be worth it to them.

> Ignite a fire in the forest that is your life and let all the shit burn to the ground.

I think this is why Marie Kondo is so popular right now. Throw it all out! I've always tried to get rid of things I don't use, but forcing functions and absolute rules can be useful at times.

Welcome to freedom my friend. The only social apps I’ve kept are Snapchat for family and Reddit for gaming stuff.

It’s been really eye opening to me how much better I feel after deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Twitter is particularly bad. I genuinely cannot find a single positive thing about it. It just feels like a big huge bitch-fest of one complaint and antagonist after another. Doesn’t matter the agenda, it’s pure negative energy. I’m so glad to have dismissed it.

Yeah, Twitter is really bad. Every discussion, no matter how trivial, devolves into a flame fest. I've told this story on HN before, but I was reading some minor controversy about Hearthstone esports and eventually the thread devolved into people threatening to kill each other. Over someone that made a dumb mistake in one of their games. It is crazy.

I think some of us use a lot of electronic communication for work, so we kind of get the idea that there is a human at the other end of these threads. The average Twitter user has not quite made that connection yet, and see it more of public performance art than person-to-person communication. The results are not good.

(There is also some cultural thing going on right now where it's no longer OK to compromise on anything. This results in extreme polarization everywhere.)

Twitter, more so than Facebook even, is 100% dependent on who you follow. I choose academics, (good) journalists, etc. My feed is constantly enlightening, I learn something everyday, and there's no gossip or BS. Every time someone posts a selfie or some food they are eating, they are gone.

I love it.

Also: muting. You can not only mute trolls that sneak into your feed, but entire words and people. After a few weeks of customization it's almost full proof.

I came back to Twitter after a 4 year hiatus to my account which formerly had thousands of followers in my hobby niche. Wow is it horrible now. I don’t remember it being so polarizing and negative constantly. I find that to be the case for many Internet communities (e.g. Reddit).

I guess it depends on who you follow, what you mute, and who you block.

The most negative energy I get now is people begging for money, because they don't have enough and need some more. The classy ones try to sell something other than a sob story.

Maybe I should mute "Ko-Fi", "GoFundMe", and "Patreon".

I follow mostly tech, artists and gamedev people and I get very little of the negativity. Don't follow any of the big public figures etc.

Unfortunately, a few of the programmers that I'd like to follow retweet a lot of the cultural warfare crap (left vs right, white vs nonwhite etc.), and there is no feature to filter that out specifically. In the end, I decided to just unfollow them, as the agitation created by vitriol and stupidity was just not worth it.

The other kind of negativity I see is people tweeting dumb/argumentative things at the people I follow. The solution for that is to only read replies that the people I follow replied to and ignore the rest of the randos. This makes my daily Tweeter routine very quick BTW.

I'm with you, once I realized how much anxiety and self-loathing I experienced when on social media yet I was so addicted to it that I couldn't stop. I tore that band aid off, deleted all my social media accounts and I could not be happier. I did not realize how much more time I had without social media, how much more time I had to invest in myself, to achieve things I was happy with and was content without needing a numerical approval of the people in my life, the more 'in the moment and living' I was. I realized how much people thought they knew me because of my photos and posts until I was completely off social media. People become curious of what you've been up to and asked me how I was. I noticed how effective this is to build friendships and, this could be the people I surrounded myself with but people have forgot to ask how we each other how we are actually doing because we think we know based off of peoples social media. It's sad.

I've been off of social media for over a year and I don't regret it. I'm happy to miss an event because I wasn't on Facebook, it allowed me to see who actually wants me to be there versus those who just invite everyone in a group.

Is it possible the anxiety and self-loathing would have existed in another form if not for social media, and social media is getting scapegoated for other issues that you've got, which are now hiding dormant because rather than deal with them you externalized them onto a technology?

Wise words. I wish I had read and thought about things like his, before I got my heavy depressions being not even 30 years old.

Thought I had already experienced bad times but nothing came close to that half year of what is called "Burn Out". Wouldn't wish that to my worst enemy.

People, take good care of yourself, OP is totally right.

Intense physical activity helps too, given that our bodies are designed for that.

At the beginning of 2018 I was in a pretty bad state in many ways. One of which was my health.

I did a lot to turn it around, including running regularly, and a better diet. I lost a lot of weight. But what's more amazing in the long term is the mental transition that's come with it. When I get anxious, often I think "when is the last time I went running?" and if it was more than 2 days ago, getting my gear on and getting outside is nearly automatic. It's an emotional outlet. Anxious? Run it out. Angry? Run it out. Happy? Run with it!

Truly, we are meant to run. We are meant to exert ourselves. And our bodies crave it, if given the ability to.

For when you need to get your photos off of FB: https://github.com/spieglt/fb-photos. Hopefully makes it easier to get "Photos of me" which they don't include in your data export.

very well put together comment because I started seeing a therapist and it has helped me find a new perspective on life in general. I was just grinding away in San Francisco without really having a long term plan...now this is just one part of my life.

> I’m finding solace in boredom

you seem to be very active on HN. HN is my main distraction too.

Yet here you are on HN.

Please fix your outstanding bugs before igniting that fire.

Thank you for this comment.

Everyone should go to therapy. I don't think I've ever met a person who doesn't need to talk things out, from time to time, with a semi-objective, third party.

Most of us were raised by imperfect people trying their best who still made a lot of mistakes. Even people who had really prepared parents probably experienced things which might have left us with some unresolved issues.

Go see a therapist. Its not a big deal.

Agreed. But therapy often aint cheap. I don’t doubt that tech workers get stressed and seekntherapy. People in other industry also suffer through anxiety and other issues. Probably many (most?) low wage job sectors are even worse for the pressures felt by workers. But tech pays well, so you have the greater privledge there to be able to afford therapy. and so a lot of tech people go to therapy. (As almost anyone could benefit from if they can afford it)

Medical insurance will often cover therapy, even if you are not diagnosed with a Major Disorder of Doom. Of course, the deductibles can also add up.

It shouldn't be that someone's income determines whether or not they can get help. We've learnt that a lot more people want help than those who get help due to two main reasons: - too expensive - perceived stigma associated with getting help

This is starting to change and I hope it continues

The running joke around my town is that the local bartender sells cheap therapy.

The only problem with this point of view is that, effectively, you have painted a sort of target on your back. As you say, not everyone goes to therapy (even though they should). Therefore, there is still a stigma associated with those who do choose to go to therapy.

That wouldn't be so bad, except there are consequences to going to therapy. Paperwork and records are generated. There are certain positions where you have to disclose any therapy that you've received (see for example Section 21 on the SF-86: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf). Then, you answer that truthfully, and your paperwork leaked. You are supposed to be open and honest with your therapist, but can you do that in good faith? Knowing that truly anything you say can come back and haunt you in the future? Even if you work through those issues and they are firmly in the past?

There needs to be a way for people to truly feel secure and talk through troubling thoughts without fear of reprisal. I have personally avoided going to therapy for the fear that I would be denied opportunities if it was disclosed that I had a "mental illness".

It's the same reason I refuse to obtain genetic testing or DNA sequencing for myself; if I do that and, as a result, I learn that I am potentially at risk for an illness/cancer/whatever due to my genetic makeup, undoubtedly some life or health insurance policy will use that information against me to deny coverage in the future. So I remain ignorant out of fear.

"Therefore, there is still a stigma associated with those who do choose to go to therapy."

Is there really? I haven't really seen it, at least among people who I hang out with (which admittedly, include a good number of therapists. Also a good number of knowledge workers who have a therapist.)

I suspect this might be class-based. The therapist market bifurcates into high-functioning professionals who can afford $400/session without insurance and just need someone to talk some feelings out, and people who really need therapy and are often referred by the school or court system. Therapists will usually take on a number of the former to pay the bills, and then a few of the latter to feel like they're doing good in the world. Who doesn't get therapy? What's left of the middle class, who are the people who usually need it the most.

If you're a member of the missing middle class, who do you see who goes to therapy? Usually the latter group, the folks who are visibly mentally ill and have trouble functioning normally. You probably don't know a whole lot of corporate executives in general, and if you do, they're often fairly good at keeping quiet that they have a therapist. So you get a very distorted picture of reality.

And knowing these class-based distortions, it's only when the highly-paid professionals, managers, and executives get together that they will casually remark, "Oh, my therapist said..." Occasionally you'll catch glimpses of this in media meant for this social class though, eg. TED talks or songs whose audience is primarily this class.

Fear is created by the individual. It may be stimulated by the environment but it originates from the person.

Fearing seeking help because of possible consequences is the act of creating a personal hell.

There will always be consequences no matter the choice. The chance to live life without consuming fear is the missed opportunity for not seeking help.

I feel exactly the same way about DNA testing and therapy. I think is speaks more about our health industry in the US (assuming since it sounds like it) than to any personal issues with going to therapy or getting these DNA tests.

Why do we live in fear of our own healthcare system? It's truly upsetting for US citizens to fear getting professional medical help.

It's like if you got into a car accident and your car is totaled, but you try to fix it yourself and keep driving it around because you fear the repair costs.

We're all just broken cars afraid of going to the mechanic.

> That wouldn't be so bad, except there are consequences to going to therapy. Paperwork and records are generated. There are certain positions where you have to disclose any therapy that you've received (see for example Section 21 on the SF-86: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf)

Seeking counseling for depression/anxiety does not fall under any of the questions being asked in this form.

ipython may be recalling the previous S21. S21 got a major update for revision 2016. See revision 2010 for the prior version: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86-non508.pdf

Any mental health issue is covered by that question.

Discussion of the change: https://news.clearancejobs.com/2016/11/29/dni-announces-chan...

> That wouldn't be so bad, except there are consequences to going to therapy. Paperwork and records are generated. There are certain positions where you have to disclose any therapy that you've received (see for example Section 21 on the SF-86: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf).

My thoughts on this are that first and foremost, my health is more important than my career. And for SW professionals, the reality is very few jobs require disclosure. You can easily go to a mental health professional without adversely impacting your career.

Regarding the national security position disclosure, from what I see:

- You have to disclose a court appointed order to get mental health, or a court finding of mental incompetence.

- You have to disclose a hospitalization for mental health problems.

- You have to disclose any of the following:

"Have you EVER been diagnosed by a physician or other health professional (for example, a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or nurse practitioner) with psychotic disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, bipolar mood disorder, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder?"

I don't know about the last two, but the rest are serious conditions that are often treated with medication and not with therapy. If you have any of them, I think it's a lot better to get help and be excluded from those jobs. Furthermore, they're about issues orthogonal to the article and most of the discussion here.

You have to answer this:

"Do you have a mental health or other health condition that substantially adversely affects your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness even if you are not experiencing such symptoms today? (Note: If your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness is not substantially adversely affected by a mental health or other condition, then you should answer "no" even if you have a mental health or other condition requiring treatment. For example, if you are in need of emotional or mental health counseling as a result of service as a first responder, service in a military combat environment, having been sexually assaulted or a victim of domestic violence, or marital issues, but your judgment, reliability or trustworthiness is not substantially adversely affected, then answer "no.")"

This is an easy "No" for almost everyone.

I think for most stress/anxiety related issues that one would seek help from a therapist, you would not have to disclose any of it for this form.

I remember it being more invasive in the past and while I can’t find an old version to compare, there is this article outlining the changes in ~2017 to that question: https://www.keepyourclearance.com/news/sf-86-psychological-h...

What exactly is your threat model?

Threat model? I don’t expect that anyone is out to get “me” specifically. As I said, if I apply to a job that requires me to disclose my interactions with mental health professionals, I do see a non zero risk of being denied that position on that basis.

Furthermore, I want to ensure the economic viability of my family. So regarding genetic testing, you have to answer questions asking whether you have pre existing conditions when applying for life or health insurance. If you know that you are x% more likely to contract a certain cancer due to your genes, do you take the chance and lie on the application? Or do you tell the truth and run the risk of being denied wholesale?

There is no clear answer and so to protect the economic future of my kids, I can still choose not to know.

I have not touched on the “leaking” of information which I think is where you were going with your question. While I do not consider myself interesting enough to be a target for “doxing” wouldn’t it just be easier if there was nothing to “dox” in the first place?? Just in case I do end up in a public position or otherwise targeted for harassment?

How often do you consider possibilities that have never happened to anyone in human history, and try to account for them?

I’ll raise your snarky comment with a link: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/dtcgenetictesting/dtcinsuranc...

Long story short this is a real issue and not something that “has never happened to anyone in human history”.

That's not what we were talking about, but okay...

Agreed, it is still largely a question of optics and prejudice. People associate therapy with psychiatry and that anyone going is "crazy".

I've long argued that we should come up with a better term. I prefer stress counselor instead of therapist. It allows more natural discussion with others too. "I see a stress counselor and we just talk about how to be less stressed at work and home" is a very easy and non-clinical way to discuss the same thing as going to therapy. We also need to mandate that mental health is covered by all health insurance plans. Anything we can do to remove the stigma is a positive.

I disagree with coining a different term to make it more socially acceptable. Therapist being generic is useful for keeping mental health issues under a single blanket and preventing other people from easily figuring out what you're going there for. This is similar to how going to a doctor could range from doing your yearly check up to following up on a possibly fatal issue.

The real solution is the one we've already been pushing for and have had a great amount of success over the years, which is to treat mental health issues with the same importance as physical health issues.

I agree and disagree. Full blown major depression or panic disorder or what have you should absolutely be treated like physical health issues. But, there are many of us who are perfectly functional and decently happy who could still use counseling. We who keep screwing up relationships, failing to follow through on projects, allowing ourselves to be doormats or stressed out cliches, the "healthy screwed up".

Crappy upbringings and suboptimal mental habits do not always come with psychiatric disorders. And such people often don't live their best lives because they forego therapy on the grounds of "I'm not that bad, others have it much worse, I don't want to be self involved and drain resources. Also I don't want a diagnosis just to get therapy." But something like counseling has been provided by elders or religious authorities for millennia across various cultures. It's strange that now, that form of counseling is provided mostly by medical professionals to a big chunk of the Western middle class. But it's absolutely better than nothing.

Wouldn't that potentially present problems similar to everyone getting unnecessary medical tests done and following up on false positives causing more problems than they are worth? If your life is going well then a certain percentage of people going to a therapist could actually make things worse, not to mention that if everyone went then quality of therapists would probably go down. Just a thought.

Most therapy does not lead to medical tests or procedures or anything like that. Especially if you're more or less ok. Its just some dedicated time to talk about how your feelings relate to stuff happening in your life and previous experiences.

I think you are conflating therapists with psychiatrists.

I just don't see anything they can do to help. Most of my issues are rooted in mistakes I made and many have concrete origins that aren't something a therapist will fix.

A therapist of course can't fix a mistake you made in the past.

However, they will most certainly help you change the way you think about that mistake. Which can be extremely helpful in moving past those mistakes and making the best of where you find yourself now in life.

I just recently started seeing a therapist, and this was a huge revelation to me. More specifically, helping me realize I was holding onto a lot of guilt over things where it made no sense to cling to that guilt. Learning to let go of that mental overhead has been extremely helpful.

Things changed once someone pointed out to me that almost everyone has problems of similar or greater magnitude as mine, but most of them are not sad/unhappy/depressed.

Well, OK - that realization didn't make my problems go away, but it did set me down a path.

As others have already said, the role of a therapist isn't to solve those problems you have in your life. They might be able to help you not get mentally affected by those problems, though.

When I found out my insurance included therapy, I said "Heck, why not?" Had only 3 sessions with him. The outcome?

I learned that my problems are not severe enough to warrant serious therapy (based on a heuristic they use). That's not to say I shouldn't feel bad about them or anything, but to highlight that yes, people have ups and downs, and I may have just a few more downs than the median, but I'm not far from the median.

The problems I was dealing with had solutions. He outlined a few options to me and recommended some books. I picked one of the options and started reading those books (frankly, I was interested in the topic anyway).

Knowing that my problems were ultimately due to the lack of a few (learnable) skills makes a big difference. And now I can see people around me who have similar issues - some who think they've got serious psychological problems - and their internal mental torment is rather sad.

Agree with what others have said: Plenty of crappy therapists out there. I seem to have been lucky with mine.

I don't think the goal is fix past things in the past - you'd need a time machine for that.

Rather therapists help you not make the same mistake again.

A lot of humans think "But I'll never make that mistake again!"

But then they do. We're just not evolved to live in modern environments, so our brains and nervous systems lead us to do silly things.

Therapists help reduce the likelihood that you keep making the same mistakes. And they provide techniques to mitigate the risks arising from new types of mistakes you might make.

I think it's really more about coping skills these days, as opposed to 'getting to the root of things and erasing them' https://blogs.psychcentral.com/practical-psychoanalysis/2015...

100%, focusing too much on the past can leave you stuck there. Developing coping skills and new perspectives can free you from the past.

It's why our sessions all focus on brief therapy and practical psychology principles.

How you think about things matters. They may help you think about you and your mistakes differently.


to you

to others

it may very well change very concretely how you feel about past present and future

Not an easy task I'll give you that

While I agree that most folks would benefit from counseling, I question that it's super useful to seek it out unless you have a specific goal in mind for the experience.

Unfortunately it could be a big deal because of the stigma. There are jobs that ask whether you have ever seen a psychologist and/or have ever had a mental health diagnosis, presumably to disqualify you. For example I believe the FAA asks for this information from pilots. I would guess any job that requires security clearance would also require you to disclose this information.

Do they really ask whether you've seen a psychologist or is it a psychiatrist?

and for the rest of us there's still M-x doctor

It's not just tech, it's most of the modern workplace.

In Europe, my friends working in finance are close to going mental as well.

Can't people without medical grade issues talk to their wife/husband?

Are you really, 100% honest with your spouse, as in "I think I might have watched too much porn" or "I just can't stand our child, I think he's ugly and spoilt, sometimes I wish we didn't have any", or "I really don't fancy you anymore, I'm thinking about having an affair"...?

I would assume most people are not that candid with their partners, but that's the sort of thing you can discuss with a therapist.

If that is what people discuss with their therapist then it sounds like an incredible waste of time.

Not if you're having relationship issues with said wife/husband. Your spouse is biased. Sometimes you need an outside perspective. Close friends are also an option, but there are lots of folks out there who don't have somebody they can really open up to.

Your spouse is not your therapist. They're not detached. They're biased. They don't have training (unless they're a licensed therapist, in which case they are definitely not your therapist). You can't get useful advice from your spouse when you need help coping with your spouse's issues.

I'm not sure the qualification "medical grade" exists for therapy. You go if you feel like you need to go. You would see a psychiatrist for medicine-based solutions to your perceived or physical ailments.

Another aspect is that often times sensitive subjects involving the spouse come up that you have previously been unsuccessful in discussing with them, or you are simply uncomfortable discussing with them.

An easy comeback would be to say "you should be able to discuss anything with your spouse," but reality ain't that simple for everybody.

Is that really true? They genrrally draw lines around whether it affects one's day to day functioning or not.

That's when it's some form of problem. But just as you (should) go to a dentist or doctor routinely when you're not having a problem, you can do that as well with a therapist.

For lonely people, it's much easier to get a therapist than a spouse.

You can, but I for one wouldn't want to burden others too much.

Trying to have the sorts of long lasting introspective unidirectional conversations needed to really work through things with your partner will either fail or screw up your relationship or both.

Obviously people do. But it can be enormously good for a relationship to have an external, non-personal, context for that kind of work.

But who will make money on that?

are there any kind of online therapy options that are actually worthwhile? my past experiences w/ irl therapists were not very good & i think it'd be a lot easier to communicate effectively online without the stress that comes from things like eye contact etc.

i think 8ch used to fill that roll for me but now it's gone and there's no one else to talk to & everything's spiraling out of control.

My dude, do a search, there's help out there. Text only therapists all the way to video chat. It only take 5 minutes to get started, but please look into it.

This. It isn’t a tech worker thing, it’s a human thing. The $400 I spend for a single session with my psychiatrist (he’s the rare MD who also does and is excellent at therapy — when he retires I’m seriously not sure what I’m going to do) is the best money I spend each month.

Is it a 6 hours session for that insane amount of money?

You go realize that’s a pretty run of the mill rate for senior lawyers, consultants, and other well-paid professionals?

For a psychiatrist (MD), I suppose it's a typical rate. I can't speak for the commenter, but when I was younger everyone (including my psychology professor who was also a therapist) suggested prioritizing a therapist unless medication is needed (for which only a psychiatrist can prescribe). The claim was psychiatrists were trained to have a bias in favor of medication.

And therapists will not charge crazy rates. You'll get plenty of good ones for half that cost.

No idea if still true.

Maybe in the US. Certainly not in many other countries.

Sadly no. It’s an hour. He doesn’t take insurance (most good psychiatrists don’t take insurance — I could conceivably manually submit claims and get some of it back but it’s not worth the hassle) and it costs what it costs.

You think MDs only bill ~$65 an hour?

When someone says, that everyone should go to therapy, my first question is: who pays the therapist? If everyone goes to one, then an insurance to cover the costs does not really make sense anymore.

Everyone should go to the dentist, and many insurance policies pay for that.

Insofar as it works, therapy is "preventive care" -- it should help you to live a healthier life, thus reducing your overall cost to the insurer.

This gets tricky when we consider the frequency and cost of therapy. If you go every week, and a session costs $200 (not unreasonable in much of the world) then it's probably only coverable in a single-payer, "healthcare-is-a-human-right" system, and even then only after building a pro-therapy consensus that might be difficult.

Because even if everyone should go to therapy, lots of people think they shouldn't.

Go drink some beers with your friends who don’t work with you. It’s cheaper.

Many people feel that burdening their friends with their problems isn't easy. This is more complicated than it seems - even if you're ok venting a few times to your friend, could you do it every week for a year? Also, is your friend equipped to deal with difficult emotional questions (what if they've never been depressed?). Professional therapists, while expensive, do fill a role.

At the height of my depression, I didn't feel like ever leaving bed, much less trying to corral a bunch of friends into somewhere they weren't going to be already. Also, my therapist is a $20 co-pay, which is way cheaper than going to the bar. This non-answer just demonstrates your lack of perspective.

Not all of us get depressed enough that we can’t get out of bed. Socialization and camaraderie to see that other people have issues too helps keep things in perspective. Keeps me from slipping down a hole where I’d need professional help.

No, they shouldn't. Don't seek treatment unless you need it. Anyone telling you otherwise is marketing.

OP suggested everyone needs it at some point or another which I 100% agree with. Also there is no magic way to know if you "need it". If a person is considering it, they should try it.

It’s often hard to know if you need you need help, it’s why we go to a doctor for a checkup - it’s equally important to focus on your mental health as your physical health.

I would say you shouldn't go to a doctor either unless you actually need treatment for something.

Yet there are all kinds of things that people do while they’re well in order to stay well - regular exercise, good diet, adequate sleep etc.

And routine checks on basic indicators like blood pressure and cholesterol are part of conventional health advice, particularly as people age, in order to identify and respond to problems early, before they become much more severe and difficult to treat.

Equivalent preemptive/preventative treatment for mental health is less understood/available.

Working at startups lead me to tears over stress a few times and one boss, knowing I broke down that same day, would ask me "you're okay to continue working today right?". Thankfully I was young, had no kids, and decided my mental health was worth more than an underpaid job to make a few people rich and so I left that company. Some people who worked there longer than I did still justify the time they spent working in conditions like that. Some people I worked with there barely spent any time with their families. Oh, but it was "all worth it for the company!"... they would claim.

Get help if you need it and remember that no one is worth working for if they degrade your mental health. No one.

Did you get upset those times because you cared about your job or coworkers and would you still care about the same things if you were in the same situation again? I ask because I think it takes time for people to get perspective (managers included) and employers often work on getting their employees to lose perspective.

As somebody who's recently started going to therapy (and a tech worker), I'm skeptical that apps will help -- most of the point is being able to talk to a real person, in a real place, and get honest feedback.

This said, therapy is not as "modern" as people think. Catholic confession has been around for literally millennia, and it basically had that same role: one guy will listen to your deepest thoughts and shames, absolve you from guilt, and discuss ways for you to be a better person. It's just that we now know how to do it without all the religious baggage.

Yeah it's really hard to replicate the feeling of being in a room with someone and talking through specific situations in your life. Talk therapy (and probably all therapy) is better in person, but there's value in being able to do some home exercises and sessions as well even if it doesn't replace therapy.

There are other therapy approaches which are more suited to be delivered through a phone. Something that we've seen work really well is teaching coping skills, mental models and different perspectives. It's much less about focusing on your past and life situations, and more about actionable skills that you can learn to manage mental health issues.

Shocked that a normal and healthy practice that should be done more by more and different kinds of people is big news to the NYT, because tech.

Watching the NYT (and others) from within tech over the past few years has done more to destroy any trust in mass media than anything else in my lifetime.

The NYT banging the Iraq war drum back in 2002-03 was enough for me to develop terminal cynicism about that particular august institution.

The NYT tried very hard to prevent one of their journalists from publishing a story critical of the CIA and the Bush administration - https://theintercept.com/2018/01/03/my-life-as-a-new-york-ti...

It's been a while since I read this article, but I believe James Risen also talked about government employees working with the NYT to publish pre-approved "leaks".

The NYT is one of the primary targets of Manufacturing Consent. That book changed how I see the media. I still read NYT pretty regularly, but I definitely see it differently.

Yes, that was the start of it for me, seeing that going on while understanding exactly how much BS it was at the time. Then the 2016 elections (and constant fumbling to get any story right since) and this finished the job.

The Economist wasn’t great either. Around 02-03 I distinctly remember them raving at the effective political strategy of the Bush administration in bangig the drums of war as a ruse to bring Saddam Hussein to the negotiating table. It was apparent to even a kid like me that war was all the White House wanted.

Every rag has its issues. The pieces are written by people and edited by more people in turn. It’s more about reading the least worst of a bad bunch. NYT and FT are in that category for me at least.

Is there a therapist that specializes in all the trauma Judith Miller has caused me personally? I would really like to get into that with someone, it was a big part of my youth.

I am so sorry, you may be beyond the reach of modern medical science :p

They're one step above a tabloid at this point.

Seven ayahuasca ceremonies and two bufo ceremonies over the course of 2 years changed my life. I experienced a paradigm shift and healed a lot of repressed trauma, let go of a lot of internal drama. I feel I got to the root of the issue and built a solid foundation upon mindfulness and compassion. Every day I work to train my mind to be one-pointed while keeping my heart open towards all, even those who wish me harm.

Forgiveness for myself and towards others is the most powerful medicine I've ever known. We are all human, yet so many people judge so harshly. I've learned that the energy expended upon blame/shame is not worth it compared to the energy recycled by forgiving and forgetting. I wish more people realized this, this simple truth could transform the whole world.

I've quit smoking weed, drinking, vaping nicotine, eating meat, porn. This is a big deal for me at age 29, I didn't think I'd ever be able to let all these vices go. I've started to wake up at 5am everyday (most days without an alarm). I feel grateful as I brush my now straight teeth (they were crooked 2 years ago). I like how I look and feel, this natural confidence attracts women I thought were 'out of my league' not too long ago.

I spend my mornings working towards my highest aspiration of spreading good by design through my agency/consultancy. Under this umbrella, I have started to improve my skills as a developer to build products/platforms that I feel should exist that don't. I read books/articles by people who have done the things I aspire to do and offer concrete principles to help me keep evolving.

I got rid of my smartphone, don't miss it to be honest. I use my Sony a6000 for photography now. I don't use Facebook at all, use Instagram only to see nature photography (a few interesting people I admire), use reddit and twitter to keep up with my interests (culled most of my feed in both down to high-signal, low-noise).

I'm just happy to be alive. I was morbidly depressed in May 2017. I was feeling like a loser for not getting into YC, for getting laid off, for not having a degree, for not being married like most people my age in my culture, for being a joke to many people I grew up around. I don't care about any of that anymore, I am a victor, not a victim!

I'll shut up now. Hopefully this helps someone out there struggling, we are all in this together.

I've had this same positive life transformation from ~30 psilocybin experiences over the last 15 years, combined with meditation and lots of other spiritual / psychological work, which culminated with a "heroic" mushroom experience that caused transformation for me this year. Anybody who has limited experience with psychedelics can greatly benefit from just learning about them, this two part video gives you all you need to know really before exploring the options to have an experience yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TazyFTavMyA

If used with pure intentions, entheogens/psychedelics are medicine. It's sad that so many just see them as recreational drugs. It's only a matter of time now until mainstream society accepts this truth that indigenous people and the mystically-inclined already know.

I started out with psilocybin in 2009 when I was 19. Over the course of the last decade, I dove deep into EVERYTHING from Antiquity to the Renaissance to the Counterculture. I feel psychedelics helped me synthesize so many different aspects of STEAM fields in a meaningful and practical way.

Meditation and gratitude keep me child-like, I can't even put it into words really. It's just something that has to be experienced to be understood, I'm sure you know what I mean!

Had you ever tried any of the typical anti-depressants before deciding to use one not developed by Big Pharma?

I don't doubt that a lot of these psychedelics, about which almost every person who tries them for depression raves, are effective for some people. But like any strong drug affecting the brain, I'm wary that they could just as easily cause even more anxiety and depression in those already predisposed.

I went through an existential crisis and needed to learn better coping skills to start a new chapter in life as I approached 30. I don't think prescriptions were the answer for my case to be perfectly honest, I'm not going to speak for anyone else though (do what works for you). I got screened to be sure I wasn't bipolar or schizophrenic and I was told by more than one professional that I don't meet the criteria for either one.

It's been almost 2 years since my first ayahuasca ceremony and I don't feel depressed at all, I feel a child-like absorption with life and a need to serve the planet I call home. I wouldn't attribute all of this to the entheogen itself, I made a conscious choice to change and the ceremonies were catalysts that helped. People go to ceremonies and revert back to their old ways if they don't 'integrate'. Integration is just as important, if not more, than the ceremony itself.

Antidepressants are no more effective than placebo and the "chemical imbalance" theory has very little research to actually support it - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172306/

I keep reading about ayahuasca. Care to elaborate on how/where, etc.

I've been using thc as self-medication for a decade and decided to quit cold turkey, and my anxiety and self-doubt is through the roof. I know the baggage is coming from childhood, but I'm not sure how to solve it.

I used to self-medicate with pot too and after a break-up with a girl, alcohol. I've since learned coping skills and to enjoy 'the little things' that actually aren't so little. It's so cliche but the most important quality for happiness, creativity, and learning is to have the heart of a child. It's important to balance that with discipline of course but the foundation is 'beginner's mind'.

First time was in October 2017, I flew to Colombia after getting a 'scholarship'. They let me do a 10-day retreat with 3 ceremonies (plus 2 sweat lodges and 2 san pedro ceremonies) for $400 instead of the $2K+ that most centers charge. I would not have been able to afford it otherwise. Before going, I had already gone 4 months without drinking, smoking, meat, or sex though. I was all-in on this transformation and saw this plant medicine as a way to reach the deepest parts of my psyche to do a 'reboot' of sorts. That's what I got from it.

The 2nd and 3rd retreats were in upstate NY through a girl I know who has pure intentions and good connections. She runs a center that is donation-based and is basically a commune. I couldn't live there but it's nice to know I can always go there if I find myself at a crossroads again.

Quitting pot was difficult, it's everywhere these days. Ultimately, my grandma's death put everything into perspective for me. I listened to the Steve Jobs Stanford speech recently and everything he said echoes what I realized in the last few months.

Do you journal? Do you have access to a steam room/sauna? Sweating the THC out of your body is a good start. Meditation and fitness can help curb your anxiety. I didn't go looking for ayahuasca or bufo, they both kinda found me. It's a long story, so I'll spare you.

The best way I can describe therapy to a tech oriented person is this:

Therapy is rubber-ducking for your brain and thinking patterns.

Sure, you can figure the bugs by yourself but you often get stuck in your ways of thinking which make you blind to them.

The therapist is the equivalent of a senior brain & behavior engineer. Use them, talk to them. Talk about your quirks and your bugs.

You may think you have a perfect solution, but that solution is most likely flawed. You wouldn't expect a software to debug itself. You wouldn't expect a junior to fix huge breaking issues.

I never been to therapy or talked to a psychologist, but I want to. What I'm afraid of is that I might pick a wrong "brain and mind engineer" and it might take a while and a lot of money to realize it only to go back to square one.

I found one recently, but after my second email she just replied that she's overbooked. I have issues with rejection among other things :)

I was in a similar situation, and at some point I just realized that I was better off seeing some therapist rather than trying to guess the best one. So I just found one that was within walking distance and had time available. It worked out well in my case.

If the first one doesn't work out, they might recommend somebody more suited for you specifically or, in the worst case, you can just repeat the process above.

Unless you can get a recommendation from somebody you know, I think this is the best option. It's usually better to do something than to do nothing :).

Going to a therapist that you don't like isn't a setback. It's getting closer to being aware of which kind of therapy is good for you. It's perfectly okay to jump around.

The first appointments are usually going to be freeform discussions, so you'll be able to see if there's a connection.

Does anyone here have any experience with the Psych On Demand-type services that promise professional therapy like LARKR or Talkspace and the like? $85 for 50 minutes seems quite reasonable and I have been wanting to try it but wanted to hear from other tech professionals before paying the money I barely have.

I know I could use use therapy, although the fabulous graduate-level textbook I once read that I believe nailed the root cause of my issues (deep neglect as an infant) basically said that the only "cure" to most of my issues would be to, and I paraphrase here, to constantly reinforce that I am no longer a helpless child and I need to take control of my decisions as an adult.

Also, the book postulated that deep early-childhood trauma is one of the most devastating things that can happen to person and could very well be the primary driver of addiction later in life, and I remember quite clearly that the author (a German lady from the 20's if I remember correctly) said that it would be better to be addicted to heroin then to be neglected as an infant.

I read the book while in prison, so I am unable, thankfully, to figure out the author or ISBN number, but I sure wish I could find it again.

You might try a different approach, like cognitive behavioral therapy. It's less seductively appealing because it doesn't promise to dig into the root cause of mental health issues, but it's much more scientifically validated.

The idea is that you have stimulus->response, and while it's impossible to know root causes, you can identify stimuluses and change the response.

Analogous to ML engineering, versus Chomsky for AI. Not as pretty, but (currently) more effective.

edit to add - there are good books for CBT and other Positive Psychology approaches. Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis is accessible and interesting; I got good value from that.

You can usually find a therapist for a similar rate ($80-$100)/hr, or if you're lucky enough to have insurance that covers therapy, you can get it for less. I currently only pay a co-pay of $25/hr.

You should find this interesting/useful as well:



I have Bowlby's books as well, so can recommend them.

Based on my experience, any therapist ought to be able to offer a reduced rate - the first session or at least inquiry can be used to establish such things. And I'd recommend trying to see someone in person vs. over the Net, if possible, but that has its own drawbacks (transportation etc)

He also might be thinking of Mary Ainsworth who was an early attachment theorist with John Bowlby? Although not German.

I've read similar stuff. It sucks since it seems there's no way out. Introduction to Internal Family Systems was very illuminating regarding this topic:


First two chapters:


Anxious tech workers can afford therapy. A lot of the rest of the working world is just as, if not more, anxious. Our entire lives, sans 4 weeks or so a year, are dedicated to doing stuff we don't really care about, but there is no alternative.

This was the main thing for me as well.

"tech employees who long ago fused their sense of self-worth to their work."

That could easily apply to any industry, just a reality of the world today that work consumes most of your time/energy, and most people are not entirely in love with your work. I have noticed recently that time off or vacation time makes working harder, like my brain realizes what life could be for an instant and rebels before getting back to the grind.

I am finding the day to day experience of being a developer in a team / corporate environment quite taxing on mental health these days.

Some issues are:

JIRA / agile / whatever methodologies, so many metadata fields in the ticketing system that are all just matters of opinion. So much time spent hoarding and prioritizing "wishlist" items, and discussing which order to do things if, hypothetically, they were to be done... instead of actually doing them.

Pull requests / code reviews - now that these are done in a web browser, there is no bar to having an opinion and having your two cents. As a developer, the pull request is something I produce after executing and debugging some code for a few days, but then I cant merge it until people are happy with how it looks, not how it works.

Testing & documentation - everyone wants this, nobody can agree how it should work. It's in a constant state of "aspiration", a few broken / flakey test cases from the last attempt that slow down development, but provide no confidence in the safety of changes. You can improve the situation by writing new testcases and fixing old ones, but sooner or later someone will have an urgent change that they "know" is safe that breaks the test cases that they will merge anyway, and then it's back to square one.

General poor quality work environment - open plan, long hours, noisy, some "interesting" characters. Very little scope to ever control your work environment.

I find all these to be instances of cognitive dissonance, where there is a huge gulf between how people think things should work, and the actual, day-to-day reality of making a change. Somehow people are only interested in talking about some hypothetical future state, but nobody cares about how things are now and how to get there, and if you do, you are perceived as being "difficult".

I hear goat farming is popular.

Most therapists are well-meaning but have no idea what they’re doing. You’re just paying somebody to be your friend for 50 minutes a week. A competent therapist should help you get results in 6-8 sessions, faster if they really know what they’re doing. If you seeing a therapist and you’re not getting results, you’re wasting your money.

A very cynical take - it seems you're taken from the place where a therapist to many people is like a doctor's visit. Figure out what the problem is, fix it, and then move on. Maybe that works if you only have one problem. Maybe that works if you have nothing fundamental and deep down to get over.

Our society doesn't offer many places for people to feel safe truly opening up emotionally. It can take people a very long time, and sometimes it takes 5 sessions just to build up enough trust to start to scratch the surface of whats really going wrong. I wish your comment was empathetic towards things like that, but instead it feels dismissive, and I'd worry it makes people second guess going to therapy, or starting.

Most therapists can help anyone. The right one for you can be life changing. Don't give up finding one, even if your first, second or third don't get you as far as you need to go. It probably took decades to get you to where you are, don't quit after a few weeks trying to work on it.

If it takes your therapist four hours for you to feel comfortable opening up, they are a bad therapist.

Some people haven’t opened up to anyone, even themselves in decades.

or you have trust issues

Solution-focused brief therapy is great and highly effective. It's also not the only thing out there. If you're marching into a therapist's office unknowingly presenting a personality disorder and expecting your life to feel wildly different next month, you're just going to be bouncing therapists and blaming them for the next couple years.

It’s the difference between brief therapy, where you’re learning specific coping skills and is much more solution focused, and talk therapy which is much more problem focused.

There’s a kind of talk therapy that’s more of a literary exercise than a treatment. It can be interesting but the risk is you’re just digging yourself into a deeper hole.

This is important. Finding a therapist is like finding a significant other. It needs to be a relationship where you are comfortable with one another. It takes time to find the right person. I’m happy with who I am seeing now, but my eyes are wide open to the idea that it still might not be the correct approach for me.

So... don’t be afraid to fire your therapist if it isn’t working. Trust your gut.

Why are they anxious? that's the question ... “There’s a lot of anxiety. How could you not have that? Tech companies are fueling some of the most egregious human-rights abuses.”

How many of us work for a company fueling egregious human-rights abuses? I work for a company that just sells handbags and stuff.

My anxiety is about deadlines and such.

I think its more the nature of the work. Ambiguous time required to solve a problem. Constantly changing tools and disposable knowledge base. Disposable output. etc.

My primary motivation is learning things and doing things the right way. In tech, I feel like I will never know everything, and in fact I never know "enough" - there's always some little setting or error or gremlin that will get me. Thus I can't do things the "right way" because my programs will break. This is a source of great anxiety for me.

Yes I know there are software principles that help with this like KISS and YAGNI, but I have a hard time internalizing them.

I used to work in construction, and tasks were largely repetitive. I knew the "right" way to do nearly all of my tasks, and I was able to complete them well. That drives a feeling of accomplishment that I don't have in tech.

If your job is making you unhappy, therapy will just be a band-aid. The solution is to quit and find something better to do.

Where can I find someone that will pay me a living wage to read fantasy novels, go to the gym, play video games, and occasionally travel?

Is working worth the gym membership, video games and travel? Perhaps the solution is to work, do and own less more generally. Trying to find a trick to fool your mind into liking an activity you don't only seems healthy for the corporate balance sheet, not you as a individual.

> own less more generally

Absolutely. I save like 60-70% (depending on how you count taxes) every month and plan on stopping traditional work at 40. I'll probably have enough money to coast at that point and I can take up some contracting work a few months a year instead of being stuck in the 9-5. That goal is the only thing that keeps me sane.

Sounds like some kind of Witness Protection program.

Try posting some vlog type of videos on YouTube. You don't need to have a super huge following to make good money on YouTube.

Writing fantasy novels, fitness programs, games and travel reviews?

i will get rich and pay you to be my friend but you have to play jrpgs sometimes and be nice to me. or maybe just kill me in my sleep that'd be ok too.

A friend of mine was a video game producer for about 15 years... kinds sounds like his job?? Except he was a dad and not a gym rat, YMMV.

Making video games is not even remotely similar to playing video games.

Source: I work in the game dev industry. It’s brutal.

Yes, I said "producer" not "coder", not "artist", not "tester". Much less brutal in management.

[edit: clarification]

Not true at all in my experience. Producers/managers have very tough jobs as well.

Definitely true a lot of the time. You have to find the root cause. And the job itself might be it.

However, you can make a bit of a fine distinction: is your job making you unhappy, or are you unhappy in your job?

If you're doing boring work with no appreciation and low pay, or if everyone else at work is unhappy too, then it's probably the job. At the other extreme, If the things you're unhappy about with your job are the same things you've been unhappy about with every other job you've ever had, then maybe you need to use the therapy to figure out why you are the common thread.

(Actually, those two aren't mutually exclusive. Maybe the job itself is bad for you, but you have a pattern of picking jobs that are bad for you.)

Or, as was my case, going to therapy will help you come to the realization that your job is what was making you unhappy. I couldn't imagine many therapists would try to convince you to stay somewhere that was causing stress/anxiety.

Or, go to therapy, develop a better understanding of what makes you happy and why you took that job to begin with, figure out if a change of job would make you happy at all, develop a richer inner/outer life to better find meaning and happiness, use this new found insight to improve the workplace, and then quit and find something better.

Perhaps, but therapy might also provide a motivational boost to take that action. I suspect that depressed and anxious people tend to have difficulty finding the path forward.

I have a hard time believing the issues bringing people to therapy have changed towards global crises and dictatorships and politics, in these company worker cohorts.

I think it’s really just that the employers treat workers badly and don’t pay them enough to escape personal life anxieties in the super expensive urban areas they are requires to live in for these jobs.

Bait & switch jobs, stalled out career progress, salaries that seem high on paper but don’t go far at all, insane open-plan offices whipping up anxieties all day every day, disallowed to pursue good craftsmanship.

It is interesting to see the difference in the comments here vs those on the NYTimes. Here the focus is on digital minimalism. On the NYTimes they are focused on the article content which is the new SV model of appification applied to therapy or more generally self help.

I see these apps as new approaches to the traditional self help market but for a new generation. These are people like Tim Ferris who follow the traditional model of publishing a book, but now blogs, youtube, tweets etc... Then there are entrepreneurs making apps focused on journaling etc.., screening tools / lead generation.. which are trending towards, at best, finding someone a therapist.

Also the ACA opened up mental health resources payable by insurance so you also see health insurers developing web based tools as well. And you have the traditional therapists doing podcasts as well as video chat therapy etc... I personally find the podcasts valuable to help understand the theory. Still, in practice, it makes sense to see a human therapist, preferably one well trained to work through issues.

While I think everyone can benefit from therapy, that tagline "Bummed out by the world and their role in it, tech workers are seeking help — and founding some start-ups along the way." seems a little off. I thought it was due to stress of working not being bummed out by being near the top of the financial ladder relative to the rest of the world and having flexible jobs.

Social media has given us all echo chambers that we can be constantly connected to that shares all the things that scare or concern us every minute of every day. We follow people / channels that share our concerns so are constantly bombarded by them.

We need to learn to just disconnect and focus on the real and whats in front of us. I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to do some work, looked a twitter for a minute and looked up an hour later severely depressed about the state of the world and angry over something I have zero impact on.

Just unplugging from social media may really be the answer.

Also In tech especially so many of us are always after the next job and raise that we are don't take time to establish roots and make friends. Isolation is an epidemic among tech workers.

Some problems are better addressed collectively than individually. Work stress in particular.

It sounds like you're talking union. I agree.

Mark Fisher has a lot of really interesting things to say about socially induced mental illness that I think is relevant, particularly when considering pressure to derive personal identity and worth from your economic contribution: https://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=12841

Well, I mean... gestures vaguely at everything

Life is hard enough already, and there's tools out there available that can help. If you have access, you should take advantage of it.

I get that there's still stigma in some areas and cultures. Perhaps ironically, with some better social-mental-emotional-physiological tools, you might find that the stigma just doesn't concern you.

> a couple of years ago, clients were coming in mostly because of personal issues, but that now they were reporting anxiety about global trends, like climate change and the rise of dictatorships.

Yup. I'm increasingly considering doing the same. Climate change is really getting into my head these days. How do you deal with feeling there is no future?

In one of his essays on startups, Paul Graham said (quoting from memory): "One minute you're going to take over the world; the next you're doomed. The low points are worse than the high points, though, not because they feel worse but because they make you stop working."

Despair can be self-fulfilling. Fight it. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

> How do you deal with feeling there is no future?

Well, I'm a Christian. I believe that there is a future for me, and it's not here. That doesn't make me uncaring about problems here, though. It lets me approach them without despair, even when I can't see how they can be solved.

There is no difference between drinking booze and staring at your phone. Both are used to shut off the thoughts bouncing in your head and escape your problems if only for a bit - except with a phone you can do it all the time, while walking, while waiting in a coffee line. It's an addiction just like any other.

Interested in working at a mental healthcare company that does in-person therapy with licensed clinicians? Two Chairs, mentioned in this article, is hiring!


I am this close to just printing out all the crap I've ever written, getting rid of all my digital tech, and buying a restored mechanical typewriter so I can keep writing crappy sf that nobody will ever read without having to resort to using a pen.

Fuck tech. Bring on the Butlerian Jihad!

I wonder when tech shops are going to start getting performance coach therapists like hedge funds.

Cord cutter since 2009 and social media quitter since 2015 here. LinkedIn and WhatsApp are sufficient to maintain professional network and personal ties. HN is interesting when you get to read some obscure articles.

80 / 20 rules fellas.

Spend your time only on 20% of things that bring you 80% of joy.

Family, friends, awesome experiences that take your breath away, learning something new that you absolutely love. The rest is NOISE and is not important.

Is this worse at specific companies? I heard great anecdotes from friends at Google. Amazon I haven’t heard many positive things about, although I saw the NYT piece years ago but dont trust them as an outlet.

If I was to experiment with inducing anxiety in mice, one of the things I would try is strapping it to a chair in-front of a backlit screen for 8 hours a day five days a week.

I wonder how many anxious NYT workers are going to therapy. No, seriously. All that stuff about "bummed out by the world and their role in it" certainly applies to them as well, plus probably more economic anxiety. We're destroying their business, not the other way around. And they don't get the perks we do either.

People of many occupations are probably seeking out therapy more, for the same reasons. I wouldn't single tech out, unless I happened to be obsessively focused on writing about everything that might be wrong with tech.

Coincidental; going to therapy for the first time today.

Good luck! Hope you enjoy it and it helps :)

Anyone else notice that it's hard to find a good therapist around Silicon Valley? It seems many of them are booked solid.

Therapy is great. Excellent way to create some balance and regular introspection.

the workers arent the problem and therapy isnt the answer - workers shouldn’t feel afraid to set boundaries to prevent being exploited or abused.

What if we’re the founders? It’s hard to set boundaries from your company when you ARE the company.

a founder has far more leverage vs a waged worker

Therapy can help you recognize and set boundaries.

you dont need therapy to know your own personal limits. you also shouldn't take advice from someone who doesn't have a stake in your success (i.e. win or lose you're still a patient)

As usual, SV tech founders have a fix for all that ails mankind, one that takes a data-driven approach and is 10X effective!

I've met the founders of one of the startups mentioned in the article.

They're not from SV (or from the U.S.), and they'd hardly count as "tech workers".

They're self-taught programmers who built their app in an effort to address their own anxiety, as well as a digestive illness that afflicts at least one of them, and for which university research has found hypnotherapy can be somewhat helpful (I have my own experience with these kinds of illnesses and therapies, which is why I took an interest).

You can sneer all you like, but these guys are nothing like the "SV tech bro" stereotype you're invoking, and they're earnestly working on a profoundly important problem: huge and growing numbers of people in the world experiencing mental health challenges and many (or likely, most) of them don't have the proximity or financial means to access in-person professional therapy or mindfulness coaching.

And conveniently enough allows them to make tons of money!

Most startups fail, and can often cause the founders to lose much/all their savings or go into personal debt.

Where a startup beats the odds and starts to become successful, it needs to employ a lot of people (and generate other benefits for others, such as returns to investors and, oh yeah, valuable products to customers) before the founders can get personally rich.

Occasionally it goes well enough for the founders to "make tons of money", but it's not the norm.

In this case, founders of these companies will only "make tons of money" if they succeed in helping vast numbers of people overcome anxiety and other distressing states of existence.

Of the founders I know who are working on one of these startups to help people overcome anxiety and ill health, if you could talk to them, and see the sincerity with which they are dedicated to building something that makes life better for troubled people, you wouldn’t dismiss them with such cynicism and snark.

Ok do we really need to post every single NYT article on HN? Right now, there are 3 or more nytimes.com articles under news.

Heh. They’re definitely a content farm these days. You’re not wrong.

Every minute spent not fighting climate apocalypse is a fucking waste of time. And I waste most of my time, because I can't find a way to fight while staying solvent (this month I'm buying a roof to fix the leaky one, for instance).

In another thread the clathrate gun is about to go off big time https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21026051

Anxiety is pretty warranted when you're literally looking at the end of civilization, and possibly an early, horrible death for you, or infinitely more sadly, your kid.

Careful about the “end of civilization”, global warming is the most important challenge of our generation but media outlet sensationalism exaggerate a lot of things (notably the clathrate gun and other things, which are not widely accepted).

Read the last IPCC reports instead of randos from the internet: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

Thanks - my concern is that the IPCC reports appear to be too conservative, possibly not modeling feedback effects enough. We're tracking around the worst case scenarios presented in the 2015 report so far.

It is of course a valid concern, but reading those reports page-to-page don't show too much conservatism to me (as in, they expose how bad a situation we are in while being not-too-catastrophic).

You may also want to read the individual papers that are backing those reports, they're also super informative`.

You might find this CNN article about a 16 year old Greta Thunberg speaking with Congress and what all she's doing about climate change interesting.


Some quotes that stuck out to me:

In response to a representative asking how to get more kids involved: "Just tell them the truth," she said. "Tell them how it is. Because when I found out how it actually is, it made me furious."

"Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don't want your hope. I want you to panic."

But it also fuels a righteous frustration that she even needs to justify her obsession. "It's not because (climate change) is especially interesting," she said, rolling her eyes. "It's a matter of life and death."

Thanks, that is indeed interesting. I think part of the appeal of her message is that she resists the infantilizing, condescending BS politicians try to dump on her with remarkable skill.

The world isn't ending. It's probably not a bad idea for you to talk to someone.


Please don't ask whether users are trolling. If there is a violation of the guidelines please flag the comment. HN has two full time moderators that interact with the community regularly. But nobody likes being called a troll.

I am sincere.

>Every minute spent not fighting climate apocalypse is a bleep waste of time.

Are you being serious? I genuinely can't tell.

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