Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: How do you fight depression?
21 points by depression100 on Sept 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments
Created an account just to post this, for obvious reasons. Feel free to downvote if it is not appropriate.

How to fight depression? I am in my thirties - stuck in a boring job, stuck in work visa, hardly know anyone in the city I live (extremely shy and awkward, to add to other problems). Most of the time I don't know what I am doing, or why I am even alive. Not a day goes by without thoughts of suicide, even though I understand it is wrong (I know millions of people are in much worse situation than me, so every suicide thought also brings thoughts of guilt - "if people with much bigger problems can live, why can't you?" type of guilt thoughts). Some days I go from total happiness (for no reason) to total depression in a matter of seconds and just stay there for hours or days. Not asking for sympathy or pity - just genuinely interested in turning my life around.

Please see a doctor.

Depression isn't the same as just feeling sad. You can't just shake it off. It's a medical condition like heart disease or high blood pressure, and can be treated.

They should call it "Cerebral Dystopia" or something so it's not conflated with just a bad mood. You depressed? Shake it off. Oh, you have cerebral dystopic? You should see someone about that.

First off, good on you for sharing your feelings, it's very hard for many.

Look it is your life, as much as people will say exercise, take anti-depressants, see a doctor, etc... remember that you have control of your own life and should live it how you want. You don't have to work at a boring job or be in a horrible city with nobody you know. Go somewhere where you will be happy; work somewhere where you will be happy; take yoga classes and meditation classes; if you can code, build amazing things, if not it is a great thing to learn; go to various meetups; pick up new hobbies, choose the life you want to live and relax.

Life is beautiful, life is gracious, you just have to go and find what it is that makes you happy.

Don't conform, do what you love and love what you do. I suggest reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Stay Strong.

>Go somewhere where you will be happy

So amazingly important. Read who's your city by Richard Florida.

Hey man, I've been there. People can give you all sorts of advice here like exercise, heavy drinking, or whatever. But you really should see a professional psychiatrist, someone who knows about this stuff. A good one won't just give you happy pills, they will determine if you need them. And there's nothing wrong with needing them if you do! We live in the future, where sicknesses can be healed. Having your brain have irrational thoughts of guilt and suicide is a sickness. One that can be treated. So go schedule an appointment now.

It takes a lot of courage to admit that you struggle with depression, even with an anonymous account, so first off I want to say good on you for writing this.

I've had severe problems with depression before, and one of the biggest realizations that helped me out of it was that I have the power to change nearly every aspect of my life. There were many things in my life I wasn't happy with, and it took me a long time to realize that it was in my power to change them. It took me a much longer time to actually implement a plan and change them, to the point that I feel pretty comfortable in my own skin right now, but that realization was the start. I spent some time on medication (Lexapro) and in therapy, but I'm not a psychiatrist so I can't make any specific recommendations on that front. I can say that I viewed the therapist less as a doctor and more as an outside observer into my life, to whom I could talk about almost anything and get some trusted advice. I think it's paramount that you talk to somebody about this before you hurt yourself or, less dramatically, before you spend more time feeling depressed and questioning why you're even alive. Talk to a therapist, talk to a hotline, or even talk to a bartender somewhere if it's this bad. You've taken a first step by posting here, and that's a really brave thing to have done.

Please e-mail me if it's this bad and you genuinely feel you've got nowhere to turn. My e-mail address is in my profile, and while I'm not a psychologist/psychiatrist, I will gladly give you what assistance I can. What've you got to lose?

I have been in a similar situation to you. In my case the depression was so bad I simply HAD to do something about it, and it involved significant changes to my lifestyle (changing job, moving away from the city, etc). My wife also went through depression recently, and has recovered through CBT (with an excellent therapist) and anti-depressants. I'm not really a fan of anti-depressants myself as they are mostly (or all) placebo, but I guess sometimes a placebo can be a trigger to kick yourself out of depression. There are free online CBT tools such as mindgym which might be useful.

In your case I think a big part of your depression is loneliness (and lack of girlfriend in particular). The human brain has evolved to want companionship, and depression is its way of nudging you to try and achieve that. I was in a similar situation to you - I didn't have a proper girlfriend until I was almost 30, and thought I would never have one (but now I'm married).

There are lots of online dating sites which make it easier to meet people (that is how I met my wife over 10 years ago, and there are much more options these days).

Basically there are lots of opportunities out there in terms of jobs and relationships - you just need to change your mindset to realise that.

I'm happy to chat with you further - just post a throwaway email address or something.

re Mindgym: can you post a link? The closest I could find was http://www.themindgym.com/ but there is a huge amount of cotent there.

Oops, I meant moodgym. www.moodgym.anu.edu.au.

Partly depression is because of the kinds of thoughts you have,and partly its your brain and body chemistry. Lately (for me anyway) its also partly due to the city I chose to live in.

Do what we geeks are good at.make a list and start fixing things. If you are suicidal go see a doctor right away and get some drugs.if you can't/won't do that, do some research on st.johns wort and 5-htp. If used properly these can be as effective or more effective than drugs.

See a psychologist.you don't need a doctors referral and if you have a job it will at least partially be paid for. Shyness, anxiety and depression are 3 different things. Even in perfect health its not likely you'd be able to address these things on your own. You need help.

The old cliche is true - exercise,it releases natural happy drugs. Research vitamin d. 500-1000 mg per day will do wonders for your health,and your mental well being.even if you live somewhere sunny you are vitamin d deficient.

Eat well,although I'm not really convinced this actually makes a big difference (its all too easy to feel like crap and build vitamin or mineral deficiencies when you are trying to eat healthy).

Stop drinking. Just do it. Alcohol messes with your body and brain. Im not saying that nobody should drink, but if you are depressed, there are many ways alcohol is making it worse, and continuing to drink will prevent you from getting better.

Seek out people like you to be around.don't try to hang out at bars or the mall,if that's not who you are. Assuming you are a typical hn`er,see if your city has a maker space and go build stuff.or spend a few hours at a co working space (great because you can work on a project, around other people, and have as little or as much social interaction as you like). Go to startup meet ups even if you don't have a startup.volunteer at you local computer recycler, they often rebuild PCs for underprivileged people.

A lot of stuff here and piles more. Like life,its a journey. Honestly I think that most people are not happy most of the time. You and I have an advantage, we want to get better.

FYI.I'm doing all of these things except for the doctor (don't want drugs) and meeting people like me. I moved to a city where there are very few people like me. Fixing that soon. In small bits and pieces, its getting better,but its a many year process.


Firstly, it sounds like you have manic depression (extreme highs and extreme lows), however I am not a doctor, so please talk to someone about how you're feeling so they can make a diagnosis.

Secondly, no matter how alone you may feel right now, please remember that this is only temporary. Over time you will meet like-minded souls who will become your friends, but they key is in finding them.

I have lived overseas on my own before and have felt loneliness and depression, but have found that in order to beat this you must make friendships. This will involve joining new groups and meeting new people (something which is not easy, especially for a self-confessed wallflower).

Fortunately, there are many groups and meet-ups from which you can discover like-minded people and I would encourage you to try and engage with one of them if you feel that you can. Once you have attended at least one meet-up you will see that:

a) It's not that hard to meet new people and (perhaps more importantly) b) New people like to meet you and that you make an important contribution to this world.

I hope my comment on this board helps you and that you are able to seek the professional help you need. On a parting note, please remember that even though sometimes you may feel unloved, the reality is is that you are loved by many.

Yes, I've been trying to do it, volunteering especially. But wherever I go, I get "outed" as a "techie" (my skills are laughable compared to the HN crowd, but apparently still good enough for non tech people) - after that, people only talk to me when they need help with computers. It's my fault being shy, not theirs.

About the part of being loved, I doubt that seriously.

Don't even try to hang out with normals. Hang out with the Hn crowd and be a noob.

We are almost at same age and i totally understand what you are up to because i was in same situation before. I researched a lot regarding my sick thoughts and behaviours. I hoped for a help from someone but words did not worked as i thought it would. As much as i read and observed MRI's of depressed people, i got the point that it is just a malfunction of the brain with social problems that seems unable to get solved.

So what i did was just starting to use an efficient anti-depressant. (I hate doctors and i decided myself which to use) Not that hardcore ones that makes people like sheeps but just ordinal one. (Citalopram) Before that i was very afraid that whether i will be someone else or damage myself but you know what? It totally changed my life forever. I have been using it for two years but i admit that if i didn't start to use it i would be in very different place (or maybe hell) by now. People thinks that this kind of drugs as "chemicals" and not a natural way to solve the problems. But it worked with me and increased my life quality. I think you should try one of those before you definitely decide to kill yourself or whatsoever. You will loose nothing on that case but giving life a chance.

Kudos for reaching out to talk about this.

I'm sure the problem goes deep and has multiple layers, but it seems a major factor is that you hardly know anyone and probably feel disconnected from society. I used to be shy also, but for different reasons (I stuttered pretty badly when I as young). I can say for certain that opening up and truly connecting with people makes a big difference in life satisfaction.

If you haven't read it, a good starting point is Dale Carnegie's classic 'How to Win Friends & Influence People".

Beyond that, take small steps to connect with people. Here is a first big step IMHO: start smiling more and projecting happiness. It attracts people to you. Even more, psychologists have found reason to believe the act of physically smiling improves your mood. Fake it til you make it.

Here are a few others: start making eye contact with people on the street, smile at people on the street, start saying hi to random people (the waitress, the person working the cash register, co workers), make random small talk with strangers (about anything! you have nothing to lose really), etc.

All the small steps will slowly add up, and over time, you will find yourself connecting better with people, making more friends, etc.

Good luck!

Here's the truth. First of all, be proud of yourself for asking for help. Not an easy thing to do.

Now, Extreme emotional swings and suicidal thoughts?

The answer to your question is: Go see a doctor, and consider therapy or an antidepressant, or both.

Socializing is fine, and you should certainly reach out, go to a meetup with HNers in your area, or a maker space, or a gaming group whatever... but make an appointment with a doctor.

Doesn't have to be a psychiatrist, can be a GP or whatever. Whatever reason you have been using to put this off... forget it and go. Push through the depression, ignore the transient happiness, and make that appointment. Making the appointment is probably harder then actually going, your natural inclination to feel guilty can help you keep an appointment.

You are not alone, you do matter, but you should go get help. You know this, or you wouldn't be asking for help here, but while HN can be a wonderfully supportive community in many ways, it's not mental health care. It's safe to ask here, and I applaud you for asking for help. But it's up to you to take action.

Also, if you are looking for specific social suggestions, indicate your city. Good luck.

I'm sorry you're going through this and I'm joining the chorus of other commenters who empathize with your pain. You've got to seek some help--other than that, here are little things that have helped me:

-blogging (or journaling, if you want to start facing your own thoughts on a micro-level first. both are great.) -read a classic work of literature, read the sparknotes, read the criticisms of the work, decide how you feel about it. relating to themes in literature and philosophy help me deal with the absurdity of real life. -find a cause to support. activism helped me find some motivation and conviction for something outside of my work. -change your space. sell all your stuff and buy some new stuff. changing a rug or rearranging a floor plan can make me feel like I'm somewhere else.


I stopped watching MTV in college, and I haven't really had a problem being sad since then. You should reevaluate where and how you get sensory input and consider tossing some things out the window.

I can totally relate to you. Same boat. Anytime you feel totally down, please think of the person who loves you the most.. That has always helped me. It could be your sweet-heart or mom or dad or whoever., but just close your eyes and visualize 'em hugging you..

Oh and if you are really hurting, please consult with a doctor.. If not for u, for those who love u, please do...

Check out this research paper: Delivering Happiness: Translating Positive Psychology Intervention Research for Treating Major and Minor Depressive Disorders


For me, i get less depressed when I have a significant other and friends to spend time with, and a project to occupy me. Just pick something, and try to change that for a month. Try a new sport, or something that makes you be with others more.

you just need a win, 1 good experience every now and then to keep you overall positive.

I find it amazing that when I finally, after lurking for a very long time, decide to create an account to have posting privileges, I see a post asking how you fight depression. Especially after a two-day spree of wondering what in life matters.

I've asked myself this a few times in life. And, sadly, I'm actually probably the only person in my family who doesn't need medication, my depressions always come from reflections on mistakes I chose in the past and still pay for, as well as wondering how the future will improve.

And compared to one year ago, it has vastly improved. It's gone from an insane amount of stress to much, much less. It's gone from having no point in life to some. And unfortunately, then I discovered that I was still getting depressed over what the future would hold. That's after giving up a job that was killing me, mind you.

Oh boy, shyness, man, I know your pain. Awkward and "other problems" - I know you may think other people can't relate, but there are people with the same problems. I haven't yet discovered a unique problem. Of course, that doesn't matter.

Manic depression is real. Some people need medication for it. Other times, I don't know, maybe life really does get you down. I'll be honest with you. There was a time in my life when I drove fast. Really, really fast. Because I believed suicide was wrong. But if I drove fast, and an accident happened, that was different.

I'm glad an accident never happened. Even though I've spent the last couple days depressed. I'm not a programmer or engineer, which is why I never created an account before now, though I've lurked for a long while watching people I initially thought (but have since revised, somewhat) discuss technical stuff. Yes, I've cried over how hopeless things seem, recently. And I've been stuck in that boring job, alone, expenses just managing to inch that close to expenses, credit finally reaching it's limit, and living day to day with the realization that each day is only wake, work, entertainment, sleep, repeat.

And yet, I've seen things change. And man, I'd never believe it. I'm in my current situation, a much better one I should add, because I told someone that I couldn't stand my life, couldn't deal with what was happening. Fortunately, it was someone that somehow, at that exact time, had a situation open up that they could bring me in on. I was lucky. I don't know how much longer I could have held out. But I wasn't reaching out to others.

And you know what? Looking to others online (I did it too) can alleviate some of the pain, but I know that as much as these answers comfort you, remind you that others ARE in the exact same situation, or have been, everyone is different, situations are different, and nobody, NOBODY, ever really understands what YOU are going through. Even if it may seem trivial, even if you personally know it may seem and even be trivial, it doesn't mean other people understand.

I don't understand. I've had my own problems. Millions of other people have had problems. Lots of people somehow live. Some people do end up dying.

And though this may be hackernews, and though there it may not be something you believe, in the worst of times here's what's kept me from doing anything more than that speeding I thankfully left in the past: I do believe in God, and that although things are bad, he'd be SAD (yes, emotionally depressed, God himself would be) if I decided to take my own life, as would my mother, and I'd never have a chance with that girl that really, I didn't actually have a chance with. Yeah, they aren't all reasons other people would look up to, but it's real.

And you know what: I'm still here. Still crying at knowing things may not get better than they currently are. But I can't deny they are better than they were, even if I still haven't solved my problems.

I won't lie: life can get worse. And yes, it can get better. But it might get worse. The question isn't if you can look forward and see where the good will come from. It's about whether you can reject the bad, no matter how long it lasts, and tell the world that yes, you're better than it. That no matter how it smacks you down, you're a better person than how it wants you to be.

You may be stuck in a terrible job, stuck in a situation you can't handle, and not know anyone. I sympathize. I may even understand - but I can't state that for a certainty because really, I don't know you. I know millions have similar situations. But not one person would I dare to say I really understand, it'd be too cruel.

But I do know life should be lived. As I said, it may get worse. But, it may get better. Here's the answer: we really don't know what the future holds. It's uncertain. But here's what I do know: we aren't dealt a life that's already certain. Fate doesn't exist. Life can get better. It can get worse. But here's the thing: we don't know when it'll get worse. But we can absolutely work and struggle and make it better.

Man, I know it's tough. And sometimes, you cling to things you can, as small as they may be. As long as you live, please, believe me, they are worth holding onto. You don't know what the future holds. Your fears, my fears, some exist, some will exist, and some will only be imagination and nothing more.

I can't tell you how to fight depression, because that's your battle. I can admit that I have a family member that is definitely, clinically depressed. And I know from how they act when they haven't taken their medication. Right now, they, who a few years ago were so depressed they deceived their parents about taking medication at all and wouldn't for months at a time, is now leading an incredibly happy life they couldn't even imagine being possible during that time. It was completely unexpected.

They still need to take medication to fight the real, clinical depression. But that doesn't change the fact their life did in fact change in a way they couldn't expect, couldn't foresee, couldn't even fathom as a regular person, let along a depressed person.

I know it's not much to go on. But enough people die constantly. I know it's hard: that much I do know, really. There are groups that can sympathize. And as hard, as incredibly painful and humiliating it can be to talk to others about something so person, so painful, without the wall of anonymity, it does in fact help. The first step is hardest. Medication does help. It's hard to believe sometimes, even if you don't believe you're one of the "really really depressed ones," but watching someone go from suicidal to having a new outlook on life because they corrected a real deficiency in their brain is incredible.

And here I stand, still someone suffering. But I do know better. I do think it's wrong. And there are still people I love. There are still things I hold onto. And, I still have, no matter how small or how much of a sliver it is, hope.

That's how I fight depression. I don't always win the battles. But so far, I'm here typing. Never stop the fight. I'm sorry, but I can't say the fight will end. But never stop the fight. And find something you love - that's important too. No matter what it is, love something. Can't believe that I picked this day to register, and saw this post somehow. You never know what the future holds. But you can influence it.

Thank you for the reply. Didn't expect such an emotional reply at HN :)

I know what you mean by driving fast and accident - I'm glad that the accident never happened. I also totally understand when you say if I decided to take my own life, as would my mother - I've aged parents that depend on me, that's the biggest reason why I haven't harmed myself so far. Frankly though, unlike most people I'm not afraid of dying. I just want to live meaningfully and more importantly, happily, as long as I am around. All this office politics, hypocrisy etc is just tiring. One way is to just give up this made up life and go work for a non profit (volunteering is one of those few things that really makes me happy).

Shyness - this has become a big problem for me. Sometimes it is painful to see people go far plainly on talk - get that awesome job, date that nice girl and generally be very popular. This is even more true in the west, where being an extrovert is valued almost as much as any other skill. I don't know if there is a support group or something, that I can get help from.

But those are all external reasons. I still don't know why one day I am so happy, and minutes later I fall into deep depression.

If you don't mind me asking, did you do anything specific that improved your situation?

"One way is to just give up this made up life and go work for a non profit (volunteering is one of those few things that really makes me happy)."

I think you've identified yourself a path to become happier. Is it a big risk to give up your current job? If not, go look for a non profit you can work for. Your salary may be lower, but you might become happier (and maybe make some at-work friendships?).

Unfortunately, going from happy to deep depression in a very short period of time (minutes), really does add to the clinical side of things. Even if it may not seem chronic or like "real" depression that other people get, it can be, and any further question about that should really be to a doctor - yeah, it can be difficult, but it'd help.

Yeah, parents you love is a big thing. Fear of dying... well I've known a lot of people a lot, lot more messed up than me. Fear of death is not what kept them going, it would definitely be really low on their list of what kept them alive. Not to undervalue that, but I would think it's not entirely uncommon... I personally think a greater portion of people are afraid of how they die rather than if they die, though I think we'd all prefer to not worry about either for most of our lives.

As for me, what helped was that I'm an extremely rational person at heart with a idealistic streak, so no matter how bad things got I could never convince myself things would never get better. I'm good at reasoning, and my idealism refuses to let me to settle my day without believing that things possibly, regardless of the chance, could get better.

As for material changes... it's a bit personal but what the hey: I was in a dead-end job and played online video games a bunch, had a few pretty good online buddies I knew. Things were getting bad, one of them complains that their roommate was moving out soon and they didn't know how they'd get by without one helping out, and I was desperate. I was willing to drive 3000 miles just to get out of my job and take a risk on the other side of the country.

Told my mom, and she didn't like the sound of moving in with someone I didn't really know. However she and her husband (who didn't rent/own, they lived by "sitting" other peoples houses while doing web development and barely scraped by) also happened at the same time upon a situation where they were going to watch someone's house for 6 months, only 2700 miles away, and I might as well come with them.

Oh boy, no, things didn't go as planned. I quit my job, and a few days before I was to leave there... they called me and told me the client had misrepresented their house, it was more of a garbage dump than a place to sleep.

And yet, somehow another place was found, other people in the same area had rooms in their big expensive house they could put us in for 5 months, and after that web work picked up and we ended up another 2000 miles away in yet a different direction, in cars that we had no clue would make it.

Yeah, it's kind of unbelievable. That's why I say: you don't know what the future holds. Sometimes it's crap for a very long time, and doesn't seem like it'll ever end.

And then, suddenly without warning, it improves. Yeah, it's still not fantastic. But it's so much more manageable. And if you had suggested to me I'd be driving across the country twice in the span of a couple months, and that'd save me from going off the deep end due to a job that was chipping away at my life, making the doctor say: "Because your so young, I'd like to wait a couple weeks and then take your blood pressure again before officially stating your in stage-1 hypertension," I wouldn't have believed it.

Don't get me wrong: a lot of bad things happen. And I have to look at some of them and go: you know, I could have forseen this, because I took a particular gamble in life hoping for a good outcome on bad odds. This too was a gamble.

If you ask me as to what I would do specifically in the past, if I could do it over again though, to improve my situation, I'd say: learn sooner in life that working for anyone other than yourself is stressful, and find a way to make money in life working for yourself. Failing that, at least be the kind of person that can enjoy working for others.

Oh, and my career path, the one thing I'd do more than anything else, is now something that I thought I was absolutely terrible, horrible at in school. And I was a A/B student. That's why I want to end again with: find something you love. Even if you can't (yet) feed yourself doing it, find something to love and work at it.

I guess I can think of one more thing: don't worry about timetables. There are things that would take years to learn and get around to doing, when the immediate concern is the money and accomplishment needed today. I thought that day after day for a while. And then one, two, three years later I sat there going: wait what? I could have finished learning/doing THAT by now, and there's been no progress when there could have been. So don't worry that something is going to take 3,5, or more years to start paying off. Because you'll still be there in 3,5+ years later, thinking that it'd still take 3,5+ years.

Meditation has helped me.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

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