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A Long, Ugly Year of Depression That’s Finally Fading (moz.com)
313 points by squiggy22 on Sept 19, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 129 comments

Man, there are a lot of diagnoses getting thrown around this thread. As a caregiver to someone with a serious illness, as well as someone who periodically suffers from many of the same mental and emotional issues raised here... How about refraining from doing that unless you are A) a mental health or otherwise trained medical professional; and B) someone who has actually seen and assessed the patient. I'm not calling out anyone in particular because let's face it, this is HN and we're probably all know-it-alls at one time or another, but this can have some particularly pronounced thoughts and effects on the posters who are getting the comments.

If you are dealing with any of these issues, my heart goes out to you. Please reach out to a counselor, or at the very least a counselor or therapist who specializes in the things you're dealing with. If you need help finding one, my email is in my profile, i'm glad to help.

I'm also recovering from a depression which lasted for quite a while. It absolutely sucks because you think you're worthless, nobody loves you, you can't get anything right and the best would be if you just wouldn't exist anymore.

And on top of that you isolate yourself. I know how hard it was to ask for help therefore I want to show you some things which helped me:

- Realize that your depression is lying to you. It doesn't tell the truth. It makes you believe that something is logical even if it isn't.

- Read 'Feeling Good' - terrible title, great book. It will probably work better than average on the average HN reader because it takes a 'rational' approach to depression (cognitive-behavioral therapy). It helps you to recognize destructive thought patterns and how to deal with them.

- Garbage in, garbage out. What works for computers also works for your body. Yeah, you're a geek but you can eat some vegs instead of the 500th pizza. Also working out (or other sports) are pretty great.

- Long term: Therapy which tries to work on the root cause and not just at symptoms.

Finally, here's a rather extensive list with lectures, books, exercises, etc. which help dealing with depression [1]. Back when I was fed up with feeling crap I created a spreadsheet with the 8 activities and tracked those every day.

Note: Every person seem to react to differently. I read about people who improved a lot by meditating - on the other hand, it didn't work for me.

So, try some things out and don't give up. You can beat that liar in your head.

[0]: http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-The-Mood-Therapy/dp/03808...

[1]: http://www.reddit.com/r/getting_over_it/comments/1nd14u/the_...

PS: If you have any questions feel free to ask - if you want to send me a private one write at <username> @ panictank.net

I've been depressed for over ten years, I'm currently thirty years old.

I left my job in January due to depression, though I didn't tell anyone. I haven't worked a day since then and am just living off savings as they dwindle. I haven't spoken to any of my former co-workers who were my only contacts in the Bay Area since I moved from the East Coast to work at a startup. I've spent all day every day numbing myself with weed, porn, mindless internet browsing, etc. I don't even code, every time I open up Xcode or Android Studio I just end up doing nothing. And I honestly just don't want to do anything.

The last time I went out socially was in January of this year and even that was just with my then co-workers. And over the past ten and fifteen years it hasn't been any different. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been out socially over the past ten years that wasn't work related (and while employed the number of times I went out with co-workers also number in the single digits).

The isolation is what kills me. I haven't had sex in several years and haven't had any intimate relationships in my entire life (the sex were just one nighters and nothing more, and I've never had a "best friend", not even in high school or middle school). Unlike a lot of people with depression, I don't have friends, family (all on East Coast), or girlfriends (I've never had one). I don't even talk with people online, not through FB, not anonymously on web forums or instant messaging. In the past week the only people I've talked to is the cashier at the local supermarket, and that was just to say I wanted a bag and say "thanks see ya later". In fact this is the first time I've written about depression online, I've only told a few people (my mom and a doctor) that I even have it.

I've had a hard time dealing with it. I'm trying to get into meditation and what not. But I mostly fear the effect of this extreme isolation. There's a lot of evidence that it kills your brain (literally).

I'm reading a book called "The mindful way through Depression". I bought it over two years ago and only started reading it two months ago. I'm still only halfway through. The worst part of depression is that it saps my energy to do anything, even when I do read the book I'll read several pages and not remember a thing of what I read.

Sorry about the wall of text if anyone reads this, but it's 5:46 AM and I'm not doing anything else. I haven't gone to sleep yet...I'm just mindlessly browsing the web (I discovered a new TV show earlier today and am marathoning it right now). Either way I still hold some optimism for the future.

I feel for you, but I'm going to be blunt. You've got to get rid of the weed. As long as you're smoking, your head isn't going to clear and you're not going to want to do anything. Flush your stash down the toilet and don't look back.

Then, as someone else has said, getting a job is a really good idea. Otherwise you're going to wind up on the street, which will be far more depressing than your situation now.

Once those two things are taken care of, get help. I don't personally recommend staying on antidepressants for life -- no, I'm not a psychiatrist; this is just my opinion -- but they can be a useful temporary crutch.

Yes! it's a very easy trap to focus on the 'big things' when you're unhappy or depressed, while often the solution lies in simple things like diet, exercise, and general lifestyle.

Sometimes I think our brains actively keep us from realizing this, because they want to stay in charge. So we find solutions in more abstract, mental things, where sometimes the first (and sometimes the only really necessary step) is to start taking care of the whole of us.

Agreed 100%. Daily smoking, (especially starting in the morning) puts your life in a permanent twilight. And regarding girlfriends... a chronic stoner is usually pretty unsexy.

Put the weed away. Maybe put the computer away also. Start exercising. Spend as much time outdoors as you can. You need to feel physical want and frustration and pain a little bit. Don't hide from it... feel it. This (in my opinion) is one of the best antidotes to apathy and depression.

Please just takes some risks. Honestly, bold moves is what lifted me from a similar state. I'd been diagnosed and was living at home with my folks. But picking up and forcing myself into new situations is what lifted me out.

Don't worry about the fact that you're 30 and never had a GF. Honestly, it doesn't matter. I'm 33 and my GF is my first and she doesn't give a fuck. All she cares about is that I'm honest and that I reveal my true self. That's hard when you're a 30 yo dude and you're meant to have had a spate of relationships. But trust me, if you own that you haven't had much experience and become cool with it - women don't care. I've been there. My girfriend is super hot too ... but you learn that that doesn't even matter.

Just face up to who you are. Quit comparing yourself to your ideal and accept your imperfections and fuckups. Don't be a depressed waste of space like I was, pretending how bad I had it. Force yourself outside. I'd even get on something like Tinder and start getting pussy again just for your self esteem and self worth. Keep building and working on that. It's not easy, but stay focused on the small stuff and making fractional progress. Trust me, it adds up.

Don't be a cliche depressed fuck like I was. It's just so shit overall. Take risks and challenge yourself based upon the fact that you'll be fertilizer in no time. There's really no other alternative.

>>get on something like Tinder and start getting pussy again just for your self esteem and self worth.

I appreciate you helping here but i would disagree with this statement. This could be a recipe for disaster and lot of mind fuck. Never ever base your self esteem and self worth on how much sex you are getting and from what type of women.

I'm not saying it is the only thing to base self esteem on. But sex, almost universally enhances quality of life and self-worth, unless you identify as asexual or enjoy being alone (which it didn't sound like it to me). My point was that the hangup of not having had a GF should not be something that people should feel shame for.

I agree though. I think Tinder can be terrible for people's self worth. Meaningless sex can be really destructive. But it sounds like meh_master isn't meeting people - and I think Tinder is a good way for people just to connect (even if it doesn't lead to hooking up). Just trying to help a guy out who seems to be looking for some answers and is in a pretty lonely place :(

That sounds very similar to (though more intense than) what I go through. All I know to do is break cycles. Run out of weed, don't buy more for a while. Sitting around too much, force myself to go outside and walk around a park. Force myself to go to a social outing that I really would rather not go to.

I have found that even though I dread doing these things, and in general hate forcing myself to do stuff I don't wanna do, when I am actually doing them I am truly enjoying myself. More than I thought I would. Like, I might dread going to a get-together because the convos will be boring and I'll be waiting to leave, but then when I'm there I manage to find someone actually interesting.

I think there is a large "eat your vegetables" aspect to breaking out of this. At least for me that's the case. There's stuff that I know I should do but I just don't feel like it at all. But if I examine why I don't want to, I really find that there's no actual good reason. That's an indicator that I'm not thinking straight and need to spend a while doing things that I wouldn't otherwise do.

The only other thing is being extremely honest with myself. Honest about what I really want, honest about what is not making me happy. I was in a marriage that left me feeling unfulfilled, but I refused to admit this for over a year. That drove what turned out to be the longest and probably most severe depressive episode in my life. I am lucky though, and know that my depression is fairly mild, comparatively speaking.

I feel obliged to respond to this post since I've feel that you've basically described my life. I quit my (soul-crushing) job three months ago and plan on living off my savings until I manage to gather the energy to find another one (or to kill myself). I'm 29 and never had a girlfriend either. I feel utterly invisible to the opposite gender, as if there was some kind of unexplainable communication gap that I never managed to cross, while everyone else (including the countless couples of teenagers I see walking in the parks) just seems to have moved past that. For me this is the thing that kills me the most. I feel like I've wasted the best years in my life, and that because of that and missing out on some basic experiences that most people share, I feel extremely alienated from the rest of my peers. So I just fake it all. I lie about my life. I live like an impostor, and when someone is about to uncover that, I just run away or make up more excuses and lies.

I've got a few good friends, but they are far away. I've still got my family though, but I haven't told them about my depression. I actually have told no one except one friend, who was supportive but didn't really understand what I'm going through. I've been depressed for as long as I can remember, since I was a teenager I guess. Something like 10 years. I've also been thinking of suicide for years now, on a weekly, sometimes daily and hourly basis. The biggest problem is that I don't see the purpose of life. Most people will talk about family (children), career, religion... Things that don't work for me. I don't believe in any gods, I don't want any children (who would inevitably inherit my shitty genes) and my career is nowhere near where I would have wanted it to be, to the point that I was better off right out of college because I was mentally more apt then than now that I'm burnt out. (And lost almost all passion for programming)

I probably some form of ADD as well, because I've lost almost all ability to focus when trying to work on programming projects.

Right now I'm far away from home, taking holidays in the sun, and trying new hobbies. But nothing ever seems to stick (including meditation, which I've failed to pick up many times now). I've met people, but ultimately there is always a moment where I'm alone in a room and start wondering what is the point of going through all that. Life is ultimately absurd and we're all gonna die anyway.

Even writing this message feels utterly stupid. It's probably the worse answer that one could write to your message. Usually when I write these kind of messages, I tend to write them and immediately delete them because I feel so silly and pathetic. For once I'm gonna hit the reply button anyway.

I've been where you are. For me the path out was exercise. Wake up and work out - every day, 7 days a week, first thing after you wake up. "Working out" can mean walking to the end of the block and back. And then you get to think, "Even if I do nothing else of value today, at least I worked out." Do that every day for a month, first thing. If you can ingrain that pattern in your brain, I promise you one block will become two and two will become four. And you will look at the crap you're about to put in your mouth and think, "this is not food." For me that was the path out. There's ways to overcome the women thing - really. And 30 is not too late, not even close to too late.

This is going to sound silly, but have you tried bodybuilding? Not just running or hitting the gym once a week, but actually weight lifting? It works for me every time, and I think here's why:

- it releases endorphins - making you feel real happy just after the workout

- it increases your testosterone - making you more likely to do those "manly" things like approach a woman, or do something you've been previously afraid of.

- it makes you loose weight - making you more attractive to the opposite sex, which boosts your self esteem

- you'll see progress: depression is all about breaking with bad habits and progressing in something. as soon as you'll see progress - it will be easier to keep going, as you'll visualise the reward.

- you'll make new friends: I've made more friends in the gym than anywhere else I think

- you'll get the girls: sooner or later, once that muscle shows up, you'll get laid, and women will want to date you. The only better route to that is making a million bucks quick, but you're not mentally ready for that, so lay off the PC, go lift some weights until you're exhausted, sleep, and lift some more. Repeat until depression is gone.

PS Don't break anything. Get a proper book (I suggest Arnold's Bodybuilding Encyclopedia) and follow the rules.

I get frustrated with advice like this - there have been periods where I've gone to the gym 5 times a week and had it have no affect on my emotional state whatsoever.

Moderate Depression is literally a different disease from severe depression. Don't assume what helps one will have the slightest affect on the other.

On the women thing - I lost huge amounts of weight after a massive diet and exercise regime and it... made no difference at all. I'm 5'5" therefore an untouchable as far as they're concerned (just google around on male height + dating if you don't believe me, I'm tired of arguing as to why this is the case people tend not to want to believe it.)

I think this side of things would make a difference with women, however, if you have no obvious flaws so for normal dudes it's applicable. But don't think it will necessarily have an impact on the depression. Severe depressives should see their doctor and try to get outside help.

Obviously it's all personal, I'm just saying it helps me. I'm 5'7" and date models. Lots of bodybuilders are short.

Also, a lot of people confuse "going to the gym" with proper bodybuilding. There's a big difference, at any time the gym is 90% full of looser guys on the treadmill. Like with anything, to get proper results out of it you have to take it seriously, research, read books, maybe get a trainer to get you started. You'll only get out of it what you put in. Light jogging on the treadmill won't help much, and it's not just about extra weight. There's something about pumping iron at your lifting-limit in particular that releases endorphins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nZ1v96-veM

I feel like I did nearly avert a situation much like you are describing. I was just falling into a pitfall of depression when a decision, made in a strange, drunken state changed my life forever. By the weirdest circumstance I went to a latin dance class. The combination of structured social contact, technicality and physical exercise did wonders for my self esteem. There's a certain meritocratic vibe with dancers where with just simple repetition and hacker mindset you can become quite good, and people will respect that however your physical appearance. You can make lots of really great friends in a short time. I think that's one of the greatest life hacks a depressed hacker can do. You learn to interact with people easily as there is a very clear framework on how you approach people, there is always a big shared interest to talk about, and the amount of calories it can burn is incredible. I'm sure one can accomplish this with other shared activities, for example sports, but the amount of positive influence latin dances can do to a hacker is in my opinion unparalleled.

I could have written something similar when I was in my late 20s.

My teenage years were filled with depression. My circle of friends consisted of a handful of people I knew from IRC. My 20s consisted of a string of failed business ventures. I was living at home. I had almost nothing in my bank account. I had very few friends and I would inevitably sabotage every friendship I had. I was overweight. I didn't have a girlfriend and had never even experienced a kiss. I lost a parent and then lost a step parent. I felt like the supposedly best years of my life were slipping through my fingers.

After being rejected by a girl I met online because of my weight/appearance, I decided that getting in shape would help. Eventually I was able to lose weight and I met a girl after attending a rare social event. I thought she was perfect and we hit it off but after our first date she rejected me in a very harsh way. I was devastated and decided to end my life.

I'll spare the details but I spent considerable time researching. I purchased the instrument of my demise. I wrote letters to the few people who I thought would care apologizing for my shortcomings.

Before I took what I believed would be the solution to my pain I took all of the money I had from a gig and went on a solo trip overseas. The first night I cried myself to sleep. I literally walked everywhere until the heels of my feet bled. I talked to some people I met and had a wonderful experience that reminded me good can enter your life in the most unexpected of ways and at unanticipated times. But most of my travels were in my mind.

My pain didn't end when I came back but I didn't end my life. Today I am in much better financial shape but I don't feel I have lived up to my potential and I'm still very much a procrastinator. I still don't have many friends. I have a girlfriend although anyone in a relationship can tell you they look easier than they are. There are days when I feel lost or like an impostor. I still have more regrets than I can count. I am currently mourning the loss a pet who I considered one of my best friends.

You're not silly or pathetic. I don't know what the purpose of life is either. Life is absurd and undeniably impermanent. I don't have any advice to give but if I could suggest one thing, it's that absurd, impermanent things aren't inherently worthless and incapable of providing happiness. "Nothing matters anyway" is as much an invitation to experiment with life and live it without worry or expectation as it is to give up on it.

Human beings are wired to find intrinsic value in certain things. Art, music, puzzle solving, beauty, achievement, scientific knowledge, friendship, fine tasting food, travel experiences, charity work. Even life itself has some intrinsic value that we recognise. Ultimately none of these things has permanence and the pursuit of them all is absurd in some sense.

All of these are things that transcend our animal needs and desires. We value them not because of their ultimate usefulness or their needfulness, but because they have intrinsic value. Not ultimate value, but intrinsic value nonetheless.

Trying to fill your life with as many nice experiences as possible before you die only exaggerates the impermanence of our physical lives. And striving to "leave a legacy" for future generations can distract us from the intrinsic value of things that only we can experience and appreciate, and necessarily only in our lifetimes.

I'm absolutely desperate for the New Horizons spacecraft to finally arrive at Pluto next year. I'm going to look at every photo that thing sends back and be thrilled at having lived at precisely the right time to see it. And I'm going to keep looking and soaking it in until I am sick of that sucker. I'll read every article on it. Not because I think that it's going to have any meaning in the broader framework of my life (I'm not a planetary scientist), but because that will be an experience only people in my generation can have. To me, that rock will be beautiful, no matter how ugly and devoid of life it looks.

The same is true of a day's work. Any such day is probably meaningless. But at the end of it you can look at what you've done and derive satisfaction from it. Not permanent satisfaction, so that you don't have to do it all over again tomorrow. But real satisfaction that only you can experience.

Once I read a geology textbook, and learned about how the mountains are pushed up by continental shelves pushing together and worn down by erosion. Layers of sediment get uplifted. Earthquakes cause faults, and so on. After reading enough, I actually started to lose the sense of the beauty of mountains. All I saw was mechanical processes at work.

But this didn't last. Eventually, my innate sense of beauty captivated me again, so that when I look at mountains I am filled with wonder and a deep sense of awe. This despite the fact that I still know precisely how they got there, scientifically speaking.

I'm unsure whether the intrinsic value there is in the mountain itself or in my appreciation of it. But for that moment when I can actually visit a mountain, when I can actually have that experience, I appreciate that beauty.

But somehow, sitting around all day looking at photos of beautiful mountains, or even living right under one, isn't going to make me enjoy the rest of my life. The mountain is an experience I get to have irregularly. In this way, the intrinsic value of that experience catches me by surprise.

I even think that if I got on an aeroplane tomorrow to fly to a mountain to see it, I wouldn't be that affected by it. I'm sure we can do many things to increase our enjoyment of life, but I think that we have to be careful of believing that if we keep feeding experiences to ourselves we'll keep enjoying them. Treasured experiences can be very opportunistic. They depend on a happy coincidence of circumstances which I am uniquely able to appreciate at that time and place.

To both you and parent poster thanks for taking the time to write down your experiences. I used to completely dismiss people who had depression and anxiety, until I started having anxiety attacks myself. Now that I know how real they are, I instead feel like I want to study and understand the experiences of others and even ask questions (I will manage to restrain myself).

The fact is, technically minded people think about these conditions differently than others. We have the ability to be more detached, even from our own circumstances, and report our experiences without the mysticism and sentimentality. We also understand the placebo effect and evidence-based science, so we tend not to share endless anecdotes based on pseudoscientific potions and cures which are supposed to somehow magically solve the problem.

Therefore, I personally find your post hundreds of times more helpful than what I might find elsewhere. I also find blog posts (such as the linked article) from technically minded individuals on these issues, recounting their experiences, extremely insightful.

Although I've only seriously suffered from anxiety disorder, not depression, I can relate to a few things you write.

There were periods in my life (actually before the onset of my anxiety) where I couldn't see the point to life itself (I mean from a logical perspective; I didn't have suicidal thoughts). Actually, I had this from a very young age. I started off at age 4 with a passion for lego. But I quickly realised that I couldn't build a machine for doing real, useful work with this lego (it would break). And even if I did, what point would there be for me in building an excavator or a digger or motorcar that used the levers and pneumatics/hydraulics I was learning about with my lego? What purpose would I use the machine for? And even if I could answer that, what would I want to do that for, etc. So what was the real purpose in playing with lego?

I'm 38 and have never had a girlfriend! I live in hope. (The only thing I can recommend there is a dating website. I sure wish I'd discovered these when I was 29!!)

But when I was about 29/30 something strange happened that rewired my brain, seemingly all at once. All in the same year I suddenly became intensely interested in chess, scene (assembly) programming and a sport called martial arts tricking, after decades of not really taking all that much pleasure from anything. None of these things have any ultimate usefulness! And yet my entire mindset just suddenly flipped.

So what (scientifically speaking) happened to me? I've no idea, and I'd love to know!

Tricking stayed with me for 9 years. And even now I look back at it longingly. It has no ultimate purpose, but I miss it like crazy (there's no gym nearby where I can do it in my current location, and I'm getting a little old for it now). It's as useless as my childhood lego.

I don't want to suggest my experience has any immediate practical benefit for someone with depression. But I can definitely relate that what makes life enjoyable and livable, paradoxically, isn't necessarily something that gives it ultimate purpose.

I'm not suggesting I did something myself to change things. I just want to relate that even though I'm technically minded and fully understand what you mean by "life is ultimately absurd", this ultimately isn't an obstacle.

A king called Solomon apparently once wrote, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." When I was 29, I definitely thought I was suffering from the "insanity of Solomon" (a little early I thought). But apparently, it turns out, life is meaningless. That just isn't the problem.

Obviously standard advice applies. Most people here (especially me) are not psychologists and if the depression and associated thoughts keep up, seek qualified help, if you haven't already. Psychologists should be able to help you root out contributing factors, help you isolate and shut down unproductive thought patterns/habits that exacerbate the problem, and psychiatrists can dispense medication which might give you time to reset and recover. At least these days they too are starting to pay attention to evidence based science!

At least for me your message is very valuable, because the recognition in everything you say makes me feel less alone, or weird for that matter.

I quit my job just short of a year ago and took some time off. To some extent, it was helpful, because leading up to my quitting I noticed that I found it harder and harder to deal with even simple dilemma's or interpersonal issues. I felt myself steadily getting weaker, less resilient, and more isolated.

Leaning into that isolation, at first, helped. Having saved up some money I also didn't have to worry about, well, anything basically.

But at least in my case I feel I let it last a bit too long. The lack or purpose, even a 'stupid' purpose like showing up for a job I hated, ultimately made me feel terrified and the resulting existential 'depression' was possibly worse than barely-managed lifestyle I had before.

For the past few months I've started engaging again. I try not to ask myself too often what the 'point' is, but rather I try to dip my toes into different things, in the hope that I can find something that pulls me in so much that I stop dwelling on myself and 'big questions'.

I'm also considering a psychologist, even though for now I think I'm in an upward trajectory.

In the end, I've come to the (tentative) conclusion that my problem is not that I cannot find meaning, purpose, fulfillment or, well, happiness. Because in the end I believe nothing 'really' matters in some objective sense. And if I believe nothing matters, why would it surprise me that I cannot find something meaningful?

But that's not the issue at all. No matter how meaningless we think life might be, I've rarely met someone who truly feels that way too. We generally don't live with full awareness of our rational beliefs. And I myself too have gotten caught up in things that, until I reflect too much, feel intensely meaningful.

Rather, my problem, or at least one of my problems, is that my inability to handle the day to day realities and my attempts to 'fit in' (even while openly rejecting 'normalcy') have kept me from losing myself in whatever 'game' is challenging and fulfilling enough to not feel like a pointless game. As a result, not only am I stuck in a perpetual state of 'this is not meaningful, I need to reassess/fix/change/improve', and simultaneously a tremendous lack of experience with the mind-boggling variety of life games there are to play.

In fact, maybe an even bigger problem is that I have the arrogance to think that there is no game that can fool me.

I've found a lot of help in being around people who do not suffer from all that introspection. They seem to just randomly try things first, and only then concoct a story and meaning around it. And partly as a result of living in this way for a long time, they have actually figured out a lot of what makes them tick, and they found that 'game' that challenges them just enough to make them feel purposeful, but not so much that it overwhelms them.

And sometimes I think one good solution is to do more of that.

It's like I've gone through much of life trying to find that right partner without actually trying out relationships. The result is that I have spared myself the trouble (mostly) of broken hearts, mistakes, and terrible breakups, but I've also kept myself from actually figuring out what kind of relationship fulfills me. Because you can't really figure these things out without doing them.

I suppose mostly I'm just expressing my own process/issue in the hopes it helps someone feel less alone in their struggle. I don't think any of what I'm doing is necessarily a good prescription to anyone else.

Ultimately I find that at least one things that drags me out of depression is to focus on the trouble of others, or to swap stories. It doesn't solve things long-term, but I think it helps. The only thing I find worse than depression is feeling alone.

Just upvoting this for visibility, hope someone has some helpful comments for you.

I really, really don't know what to tell you. I mean I can tell you what needs to happen, where you should start, but I've been there before and for me the biggest obstacle was that I didn't care, had no energy or motivation. So while I knew all the right answers, actually acting on it was the biggest obstacle.

I'm not sure if that's your problem, too. If not, really just try ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Not knowing anyone with a bit of savings can be extremely liberating. It means you can literally get out of bed and do anything that day.

If I were you I'd start by writing down the things you'd like in life, then writing down what you need to do to achieve them. Set a goal and work towards it. You mentioned removing isolation. So work, education and sports are the main places we meet people. And once you meet a few there, you go and meet others through them elsewhere (like at a party). So get a job, any job, a volunteer job may even be the best. People love you, it's often a very gentle and caring crowd, there's no pressure, no attachment or stress, and it's incredibly satisfying. Then do a sport, a teamsport. Anything that fits. Used to play football, do that. Never did sports in your life? Join a beginner running team.

And get out, solo, too. Buy a bicycle and just ride, take music if you'd like, explore and think while you're out in the sun and the wind. And beyond that, take care of yourself, try to keep a more regular schedule, try to really wake up and sit down for breakfast, don't buy some crap and roll out of bed and into a chair and eat it while doing mindless browsing. I know I know, hippy territory here, but being mindful of the moment, consciously deciding to prepare a proper breakfast, and eating it at a table, with a moment of zero-distraction clarity, it creates the kind of dignity that can allow you to try something new. If you don't do that, you just fall into the same pattern and spend another day doing nothing in your chair. I've been there, that pattern is the worst.

Anyway feel free to post more of your thoughts or PM me anytime :)

Since when did being mindful got associated with being hippy?

My point is that a lot of people have an anti-reaction to words like mindfulness, meditation, vegetarianism, yoga, when science shows it seems to really help. A bit like how a stereotypical redneck shuts down when a stereotypical hippy suggests a different lifestyle.

So I was just joking to recognize he MIGHT just be rolling his eyes at that point, but to consider it none the less. This attitude may not be so prevalent at HN, but when someone has depression for 10 years, chances are he's heard the same story (e.g. "oh, read this book about mindfulness, you'll be better before you know it!") a million times before. I get that. I didn't want him to stop reading at that point. I used the word mindful purposefully because of this, not 'mindfulness'. Anyway you can ignore my point.

Find a doctor and get diagnosed. I'm not going to tell you that it will help you get better...I can't promise that. But getting the diagnosis will allow you to sign up for Social Security disability and keep you from eating through your savings. Everyone is different and every depression is different and the only thing I'm virtually certain of about your situation is that the stress of eating into your savings isn't helping you. Having someone who forces you to talk about yourself beyond a superficial level on a regular basis probably won't hurt either.

That said, here's what I wish someone had told me ~10 years ago when I first sought help:

1) Psychiatrists are too quick to prescribe medication. It alleviated the initial symptoms and allowed me to go back to work, but it separated me from my emotions in a way that's been hard to recover from since I've stopped taking them. That sentence looks weird to read, but it's the only way I know to describe it.

2) Try CBT and mindfulness therapy first. Also, socialization exercises help. It may not seem like it, but simply adding a "how was your weekend?" to your interactions with the cashier at the supermarket or forcing yourself to smile at 1 person a day can make a difference, however small.

3) Depression isn't only disease. It's a state of mind that can be useful. Take this opportunity to think deeply about things. Your current state of mind probably allows you to "dwell" on an issue in a way that I sometimes wish I could regain.

4) Sunlight helps. If you're feeling near catatonic, you might try being near catatonic in the park, in a back yard or anywhere where you can sit outside.

Good luck with getting better and I hope you can believe that it's worth it to try.

Get a job. Any job, but preferably something involving manual labor or with tangible results. Or volunteer. Build Habitat houses or something. You're not coding or doing anything else useful now so it's not going to take away from that. It will get you out of the house, put you back in contact with other people, and give you a feeling of having accomplished something every day.

Hey meh_master,

First, congratulations for exposing yourself here. I know it's not easy. As someone else said, I wanted to email you but you don't have a contact in your profile. Feel free to write to me if you want to speak to someone - I'm in Europe though, so I probably won't reply to you as timely as you might expect.

I would second the advice of the other commenters who told you to do a bit of physical activity. And, if you are still in good term with your mom (as your comment suggest), maybe you could move in with her temporarily? You'll save some money on the rent and will have someone to talk to.

Good luck!

Try to pick up some kind of sport. Taekwondo worked for me, you just have to conquer the embarrassment of being a beginner among new people, but those communities are usually friendly and get a lot of newbies all the time anyway. No social obligations, just go and do your own thing, over time you'll probably build some relationships as a side effect.

Running was a big help for me too. Again, just gotta get over the initial hump of laziness and being embarrassed at doing something that you're not very good at, until you start to get into it.

My thoughts are with you meh_master. You really deserve better.

Please watch this at some point.


Things can get better but please, please, please try to find the strength to reach out to someone, anyone and open a conversation.

Take a look at http://www.devpressed.com/ too.

Take care and look after yourself.

If you find it hard to get started, consider making an appointment with a psychiatrist and ask about Wellbutrin. It gives you energy rather than feeling low throughout the day and makes it magically easier to not get caught up in logically pointless and destructive thoughts. The best part is, you can continue to self-help it just becomes easier, and you only meet once every 6 months rather than every week with a psychologist.

Just my 2 cents, best decision I ever made after ~10 years depression, went when I was 29. Look up Dysthymia.

I took Celexa and Cymbalta a few years ago but neither seemed to do anything for me. I may give medication another shot in the future, but I don't know.

Yes I tried Prozac and Zoloft 12 years ago before giving Wellbutrin a try early last year. It worked worlds better/differently because it is a non-addictive stimulant as well. Some doctors prescribe it to their children as a safe ADD medication.

Interesting. I tried Adderall a few years ago as a stimulant, but it had no noticeable effect.

I ended up going through a month supply of it in under a week, I kept upping my daily dosage hoping for a miracle cure, because I wanted a magical pill. Happiness in a pill or something that would numb me to daily life.

I used Adderall a lot in college and a bit after but it only works temporarily and doesn't target depression. Actually the subsequent low from Adderall and other stimulants is why I hate them and they never turned into a serious addiction.

Wellbutrin had a stimulant effect at first because I wasn't used to it, but it slowly becomes less noticeable, leaving only the positive effects. I remember thinking about a week or so in: This is how other people get to feel?!? wtf

Non-addictive stimulant? Maybe it isn't chemically addictive, but all stimulants have the possibility for psychological dependency. Trading one dependency for another is not what I would consider to be progress.

It only has a noticeable stimulant effect in the beginning, after a few weeks you can't tell a difference and it just becomes part of routine with the same anti-depressant benefits. Whatever small risks you're assuming are far outweighed by the rewards.

People expect a big change to come along and fix things, but that is rarely the case. Regression or progression is a battle of inches with goals that are miles apart. For me, using a "one" system has proven greatly beneficial in making progress. I made a list of the areas in my life that I want to improve, and every day I try to do at least one thing towards achieving those goals. In my case the primary goals are: physical fitness, personal projects, eating healthy, reading, and home cleanliness. All I need to do is make at least one effort per day at improving any aspect of each of those five goals. It can be as simple as doing a single push up, updating one word on one page on a website, taking a multivitamin, reading a blog post or a chapter in a book, or putting away some laundry, as long as it's at least something. Most of the time I find that once I do at least one thing, I will end up doing more, since I've already started and have momentum. One push up turns into 10. Washing one dirty glass turns into emptying the sink of dishes. Sometimes it's the bare minimum, and that's fine too. Tracking each day can turn it into a bit of a game. Jerry Seinfeld's system makes a lot of sense to me: http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-se...

Progress is often slow and painful and it's easy to lose perspective on where you were, where you are, and where you want to be. Reflecting on your goals and your accomplishments can help you maintain perspective and stay positive. Also reflect on your mistakes so that you do not repeat them. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes, everyone makes them every day, you are just more aware of your own. If you are kind to your future self it makes it easier to have a positive image of your past self which can improve your outlook on the future. To me that is what meditation is all about.

Since you smoke, maybe try and use that as a reward. Right now it sounds like a coping mechanism, which can help, but it's no replacement for feeling and dealing with your emotions. That's dangerous long term. In the morning, before you wake and bake, read a chapter in a book. Do 10 push ups and then get high. That way you start the day on a positive note and knock out one or two of your daily goals right away.

If you are isolating yourself and not going outside you might also have a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight exposure. A daily multivitamin can help with that and other dietary deficiencies. You aren't alone in what you're feeling and it can get better as long as you try. Good luck!

A typical multivitamin is only going to have 500 IU D3. That's very unlikely to help anyone unfortunately. I know a lot of people that see a huge benefit in mood with D3, but you need to take a lot more. Most people I know who take D3 for depression take 8000 IU/day, some 10000 IU. I wouldn't take any less than 4000 IU. (Research hasn't indicated toxicity until at least 20,000 IU.)


You reminded me of this Reddit comment: "No More Zero Days"


I've been through depression myself, and managed to fully recover and now living a very happy life. I've also seen many friends and family go through depression, some recovering.

I would suggest three things:

[1] Have more social contact, even if it is going out for a walk and saying 'hello' to people.

[2] Do some enjoyable physical and mental activities every day.

[3] Find a motivating goal and work towards that goal every day.

Feel free to email me at cpncrunchhn@gmail.com and I'll be happy to chat with you more.

Do the mindless internet browsing in coffee shops, it's a bit better. Cycling is my preferred exercise, either having a look around town, or off to the next town, catch the train back, or cross country. Unless you join a club it's fairly solitary, but it gets you out, covers more ground than running, provides a bit of adventure, keeps you occupied, distracted, avoiding monotony. Weed doesn't work for me, swap it for coffee.

I really recommend you do whatever it takes to find close friends who you can talk to about this stuff if you don't have that already. Whether that means joining some kind of help group, church, whatever. Other people are a great normalising influence - they correct our negative thinking, but also help normalise shame and other stuff because it normally doesn't feel so bad once it's shared (and because we realise other people are just as screwed up as us, or at least, have problems of their own). Plus friends help us focus on others rather than ourselves.

I was hoping to email you, but don't see a way to contact you. Could you please add an email address to your HN account? Stay strong meh_master.

Go out for a run every day. I have gone through depression (one of them extremely bad) and I know the feeling of isolation. Fortunately, the brain is very plastic, so this damage might be reversible.

Is there any specific reason you are depressed? I got a severe depression due to hormons and vitamin deficiencies; you might want to get that checked.

Drop me a line.

I have to submit to reality even though it makes me question a lot of things, but yes, you have to stop believing your own emotion and self when things become either too dark or too shiny.

About isolation, it's kinda tough, people may leave you alone after a while which reinforce the feeling of uselessness.

I just want to second "Feeling Good". I only read the first 30-50 pages, and that was enough to instantly and permanently decrease my depressive thoughts by about 85%. Your results, of course, may vary.

> - Long term: Therapy which tries to work on the root cause and not just at symptoms.

This can lead people down the wrong path and can be harmful rather than helpful.

I guess I'll be the only person to comment on the actual Moz business struggles rather than the depression side of this post. Moz raised their money at a really tricky time because it was right before Google essentially bent over the SEO industry. When Rand mentions the Content tool that hasn't even started being developed, that was something that was supposed to take your Google Analytics keyword referrer data and match it to your content and your rankings and your links and your competitors and basically help you spot keywords and content you can easily rank better for.

The timeline seems to be matching up where they had this plan for this tool before any of the Google SSL stuff started, so as they started working on the design and UX of it, Google started rolling out the SSL stuff and it basically ruined their idea. Moz ended up adding tools to try and guess what keywords made up your "(not provided)" data but that's a far cry from what they were originally planning.

I'm basing this entirely on being heavily involved in the SEO industry around the times mentioned in Rand's article and having even run a successful SEO SaaS product (which is still going even though I've moved on to other projects). I just remember seeing screenshots of what they wanted to build and thinking "wow, if they can nail this, it will be great". I wanted to build a similar app. But when Google started hiding all organic keyword data in analytics, I distinctly remember saying "Well there goes Moz's whole new product".

Google really fucked the SEO world up with their (not provided) move. Think what you will about SEO but it's still a legitimate marketing channel and I really have never been able to understand why Google thinks it's ok to not share your organic keyword data but your paid keyword data is totally fine to share with site owners.

But not much anyone can do about that now I suppose.

Thanks for commenting on the actual business struggles - I found that missing here too.

I have watched Moz very closely for the last 3 years as well and was not super delighted by Moz Analytics, and this sheds some more light on it now. I do love their Moz Academy though, that was a big improvement.

On the content tool - why do you think they couldn't pull in Webmaster Tools keyword data instead of the GA keyword data? Not as accurate, but 75% of the way there. They could have also matched up rankings to content pages to still make a cool tool. I imagine they are 80% there on a bunch of features like this but just haven't finished them. Possibly related to the comment on Rand's high potential/low performance (although that take a team and that quote is quite deterministic).

Well they certainly can do that now, I just think that that's not what they were planning on doing originally and with all the other dev problems they ran into, they couldn't pivot fast enough to the new data source.

I think they're just facing a lot of growing pains in trying to become a Big Company in an industry (SEO) that is getting rocked year by year by Google. That's why they're trying to change to "inbound marketing" with a more balanced focused on social, seo, etc. I don't think they're necessarily wrong for doing that, I just don't think the market they're targeting is big enough personally.

The thing about the recent Google updates for Analytics and Penguin/Panda is that it knocked a ton of beginner or amateur SEOs out of the park. Basically the guys who dabbled in Grey Hat, thought Black Hat was cool but didn't know how to do it right, and fed on as much White Hat stuff as they could to "protect" themselves from the big G. When Google rocked all of their sites, most of them just gave up - I saw this directly in my subscriber numbers after a big penguin update - leaving the pure White Hat guys and the Black Hats.

The Black Hats don't give two shits about Moz and most openly deride them because they either build their own tools or plain just don't care. So that really just leaves the White Hats, which is a tough road to follow when you ultimately have no control over the algorithm.

"I just don't think the market they're targeting is big enough personally."

Last I checked Hubspot will be filing an IPO with close to 1 billion dollars market cap.

Hootsuite also will be approaching 1 billion market cap when they file their IPO.

Hubspot has a very different client base and sales system than Moz does. Hubspot sells their services and tools directly to small business owners and it is not cheap at all. Moz sells to SEOs, of which there aren't a lot of and the pool is drying up slowly every day.

"that was something that was supposed to take your Google Analytics keyword referrer data and match it to your content and your rankings and your links and your competitors and basically help you spot keywords and content you can easily rank better for."

That doesn't sound very clear to me exactly - how?

Google Analytics ALREADY did match your rankings to your content - it showed which search terms ppl entered when they landed on a specific page.

GA showed you which keywords were driving traffic, correct. But they didn't ever tell you the position your content was ranking at.

So what if you have an article on your site that is ranking bottom of first page (~#10) for a keyword you didn't expect and with a little bit of on-page optimization and some on-site interlinking, you could boost that page to the top spot? That could cause a pretty big traffic boost with very little work.

All you would need to know is what keywords your page is getting traffic for and then you can scrape Google to find out the positions for each of those keywords and then you could use something like Moz's Keyword Difficulty tool (or mine, serpIQ) to find out which keywords would be easiest to rank higher for.

Before (not provided) this was a very good strategy to use. You basically identify promising keywords and make your existing content rank better for them. Now that (not provided) ruined the whole organic keyword data, you have to use something like SEMRush to find out which keywords your pages are ranking for, and they just simply will never have fully comprehensive (or up to date) data.

Ah I see. Yeah, that would be useful.

Slight tangent, What do you think about buzzsumo.com for evaluating content ideas?

Can you expand on what you mean? I've only played with buzzsumo a bit to bulk check sharing stats for sites.

What are the best practices for SEO now that keywords are gone? Apart from the obvious stuff like create good content with proper headings etc.

Well, good content is always important for a variety of reasons. Links are and will always be a major factor for why a site ranks. Technical SEO is what I recommend to most people...basically doing site audits to make sure you don't have any duplicate content, all your links work, proper content siloing, page speed is good, etc.

You can also use tools like SEMRush to still kind of find out where sites are ranking but obviously their data can only be so good as they're just crawling Google SERPs. But it's the best we've got now unfortunately.

>> ...“layoffs” is a Pandora’s Box-type word at a startup. Don’t use it unless you’re really being transparent (and not just fearful and overly panicked as I was).

I made a similar mistake once as a manager and experienced this kind of thing more than once as an employee. Certain words like "layoffs" or "merger" are so loaded because employees know that you know more than they do. Even if you think you're being totally transparent, employees are correct to assume that you're holding some things back because you are. It's your job to understand the state and direction of the company and give your employees the information they need to do their jobs. Employees, especially the smart ones, are going to try to infer additional information from what you tell them even when you think you've told them everything they need to know. Leaders need to be aware that a certain amount of "Kremlinology" happens in every company.

He made things worse by being vague about the company's real situation and contradicting himself a couple sentences later when he said, "...we'll survive (though not with much headroom..." If he's talking about layoffs, who is this "we"? Everybody? Rand and Sarah? If you're going to be transparent, you also need to be specific and direct. A better approach might have been, "Sarah and I modeled out some worst-case scenarios last week and this stretches our break-even point an extra six months, which will constrain our growth."

> "the funny thing is, Marijuana doesn’t have any pain-killing properties. It just lessens tension, anxiety, and stress for some people."

Marijuana is an analgesic. But in this case the effects are stemming from the fact that's its an anti inflammatory, so that the fluid in your disc is no longer compressing the spinal nerves. And the fact that it reduces anxiety also reduces inflammation even further, since anxiety is probably largely what was causing the inflammation.

Speaking purely to the experiences of building a new software product, I've seen this exact story play out countless times. Everyone (except maybe the engineers themselves) seems to think that designing a software product is part of the "planning phase", and thus should happen before any time is "wasted" on development:

> "That product planning led to an immense series of wireframes and comps (visual designs of what the product would look like and how it would function) that numbered into the hundreds of screens..."

The biggest contributor to this I've seen is the dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of small ways that a design (done in a vacuum, without simultaneous prototyping) will differ from established development patterns, frameworks, and other pre-packaged solutions that engineers use daily to avoid reinventing every wheel. And engineers respond with timelines that expect to be able to leverage those frameworks. Thus the dissonance begins.

One example: a design calls for a form to be broken across 4 pages. There may be great aesthetic rationale or even user testing to support this, but that means that in all likelyhood any framework (e.g. Rails/Flask/Play/etc, not to mention native apps) will have to have additional modification to support sessions, changes to validation, changes to the auth domain, persistence changes, etc. And it's not necessary for an MVP. And many times these differences are much more subtle and deeply entrenched, and would require rethinking much of the wireframes/designs to align with development patterns. /rant

I'm not sure what the answer is here, except maybe that this is one more point in favor of having a "technical founder" or in general a technical person with decision-making authority, to avoid going down a road without proofing out your ideas or timelines.

I love it when CEO's own up like this, it's probably one of the most appealing traits in a leader I personally can think of. As long as they don't become too insecure to actually lead, introspection and self-criticism are strengths, not weaknesses. Besides, being aware of these traits and their negative repercussions put you in a pretty good place, the ones who really suffer are the guys who repress and deny the down slopes, always happy and bubbly on the outside but in reality inches from a mental breakdown.

The last part about how stress causes physical health problems is very important, and very overlooked. Besides the muscle and nervous tension the OP mentioned, stress seriously reduces immunity which can manifest itself in a myriad of unexpected ways (whichever subsystem fails first), from infections to cysts and all kinds of nastiness.

Wow, props to Rand for sharing this.

Rand, if you're reading this, two things occur: 1 - you're far from the first person to go for big-bang software releases (though listening to your cto is probably a good idea)

2 - in _Fooled By Randomness_ by Taleb (I believe, I could be misremembering) he describes the incredible level of stress that monitoring his investments daily created. I seem to recall the author writing that he simply was unable to monitor them every day and instead had to only look at some periodic summaries. Perhaps this may help people who get to mentally exhausted looking at numbers daily? I mean, it's good to notice immediately if they crater, though that can be scripted. Beyond that, there's probably not much value looking at them 7 days a week that you don't get looking at them once every seven days. I use the same technique on the elliptical machine; time crawls if I look at the timer, so it's an exercise of will to go as long as possible before looking.

Hope he's in a better place now.

One last comment - this post from Rand reminds me of the following from Ben Horowitz:

"By far the most difficult skill for me to learn as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology. Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared to keeping my mind in check. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of CEOs all with the same experience. Nonetheless, very few people talk about it and I have never read anything on the topic. It’s like the fight club of management: The first rule of the CEO psychological meltdown is don’t talk about the psychological meltdown."


So few people and places can allow for this level of vulnerability and authenticity. This post is going to help a lot of people.

I have even more respect for Rand and Moz. We can say Fail Fast, Fail this, fail that ... but this kind of writing is the true embrace of failure, learning, wisdom, humanity.

I respect Rand and give him a lot of credit for vocalizing his challenges. Depression is a challenge and it can be overcome.

I am not a doctor, but I can tell you that a lot of my peers are suffering from depression from business, marriage or just in general.

One thing I do know is that the world has changed a lot in the past decade. The price of everything just keeps going up and we are constantly bombarded by information. Humans are not built that way. There is no badge of honor for being under stress 24/7. It will catch up to you one way or the other.

Humans suffer from the fight or flight responses that we encounter during high stress situations. The challenge is to digest it and make decisions not based on fight or flight emotions.

The body produces cortisol when we are under duress and it is horrible for you. It screws up everything with your body and your mind. One way to counteract this is by working out, getting sunlight, eating the right foods and staying off caffeine. Try some black or green tea instead.

30 minutes of working out will combat cortisol production for about six hours. Even going for a walk helps a lot.

Most of the worlds brightest minds and most successful people suffer from depression and knowing that your ARE NOT ALONE is a huge step forward.

You can beat depression and your life will turn around!

Talking about it and seeking help is definitely a step in the right direction. Keep your chins up.

You mentioned staying off caffeine, but recommended teas that both (usually) contain caffeine. Not trying to be a jerk, but genuinely curious - is the caffeine from tea better for the body than the caffeine from coffee? Or did you mean decaffeinated types of tea?

I also agree with the caffeine thing. The reason I stay off it is not so much the immediate effect of caffeine on anxiety (I find none), but because caffeine increases mania. Ultimately mania (dealing with life frantically) causes the nervous system to respond poorly. And anxiety seems to be above all a disproportionate reaction of the sympathetic nervous system. There is also an effect on sleep regulation and a hard edge to withdrawal that can exacerbate anxiety. Incidentally, chocolate contains a related compound, but not caffeine itself. I've experimented with chocolate over what I would consider to be statistically significant periods of time, and I honestly couldn't detect any effect in moderation. Your mileage may vary.

Caffeine in tea is very different than coffee because tea has an extra substance that helps balance the negative effects of pure caffeine. This article explains it much better than me :) Personally, I've been doing Yerba Mate (the traditional way from a ghord) which has been a great substitute. I still get a good boost feeling but not the crash or jitters.

Your not being a jerk, I should have been more concise. Decaf but Black Tea, in general is helpful. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/media/library/tea

This is an incredibly brave, and hopefully cathartic post by someone I greatly admire. I really hope he is able to find the support and peace he needs.

As a bit of an aside, I wonder how much of this has led to similar troubles for other founders:

When the Foundry investment closed, we redoubled our efforts to build Moz Analytics. We hired more aggressively (and briefly had a $12,000 referral bonus for engineers that ended up bringing in mostly wrong kinds of candidates along with creating some internal culture issues), and spent months planning the fine details of the product.

I've heard from friends & colleagues about the massive amount of pressure they've felt after closing an investment round. While fundraising is already an incredibly trying process, the next stage is sometimes even more difficult.

In contrast, other friends & colleagues who've opted for the bootstrapped route (either by choice or circumstance) haven't seemed to face a similar massive amount of pressure. Yes, they faced incredible stress too, but not to the level of those that have raised capital.

This is merely an anecdotal observation made in my peer group. I don't mean to imply that this is some kind of phenomenon. And clinical depression is something that can cut through any kind of circumstance.

I just can't help but notice the stark difference in stress level of founders who are growing organically & carefully vs founders who are in a mad recruiting rush and sometimes hire the wrong kind of people. I wonder how much of a relationship there is between having the right kind of people in your company vs the wrong kind of people, and the stress level of a founder. I would imagine a lot.

I admire what Moz has done and it was an interesting read.

My comment is more of a meta one about HN. Are we really that interested in these stories of depression? We seem to get at least one a week. I realise it's an issue that may affect people here, but I'm not sure if we need the volume we are seeing now.

I sure as heck want to see more of these as opposed to "We got acquired and will be living the good life!" or "Heck yeah, we growth hacked to 10,000,000 customers using a vague strategy you probably can't apply to your startup"

Really? Maybe I'm more Pollyanna-ish than most, but I'd much rather read stories of success.

We see so many because of the prevalence of mental ill health in society.

These stories are obviously applicable to start ups - what would you do if a co-founder or key employee asked to reduce hours while they were getting medical treatment for mental ill health? What would you do if they were detained against their will under mental health laws?

The other reason they get such prominence is that treatment for mental illness is still variable. Cognitive behaviour therapy and medication (for depression) is about as good as you can get yet it still seems weirdly difficult to get that as a package.

Finally: these stories point to gaps in the market that startups could fill. Online delivery of therapy has some evidence base, so if you can deliver it better or cheaper there's money to be made. Or perhaps providing evidencd based information to clinicians ("patient has diagnosis X; what should their care look like?") or hundreds of other ideas.

I would say that the stories here are over-represented compared to my friends/family/acquaintances.

Also for "what would you do if a co-founder or key employee asked to reduce hours while they were getting medical treatment for mental ill health?" You could subsitute cancer/paternity leave/military service in that sentence and it would be just as relevant to a start-up. The issue is the reduction in hours, not the cause.

Well, the stories are submitted by users and voted up by users. Logically, if you think about it, depressed people probably spend more time on social news sites than people who are not, since people who are not are more likely to spend more time working. So depression stories probably have an audience more engaged with the site.

The staff do tend to ban or cripple votes of things like NSA stories and whatnot when they want to interfere, but you are talking to the wrong people for an admin hack.

Yeah, but I do sometimes wonder if it's self-reinforcing.

- Story on Topic X gets votes - People look for other stories on X - New story on X gets upvoted because the other one was - More stories on X appear

I would bet that many people on HN have some sorts of manic depressive tendencies. I fit that myself.

A friend of the family had that. She is an entirely sensible, respectable mother and worker, but when she is in a manic phase... It must be hard to find yourself doing things so out of your usual character.

I kind of like the manic part. I get so much done. The depressed part I don't like.

Forgive my ignorance and bluntness, but reading the above, it sounds more like an anxiety disorder than like depression. Both are serious, but I'm not sure if it helps to confuse the two?

I've not experienced either seriously, but I know people who have. Depression seems to be more about things not mattering anymore, everything being pointless, the world seeming drab and just not fun anymore, rather than feeling that everything is going to go to shit. Anxiety, though, (and I'm speaking from experience here, having had some light anxiety attacks caused by too much regular caffeine usage) seems to be characterised by a feeling of impending doom, that everything is wrong, it can't be fixed, it's all hopeless, etc. But in my (mild) anxiety attacks, like Rand, I still cared about the outcome. I just felt like there were too many problems to solve, overwhelmed, ready to say "fuck this", give up the entire thing, and start again from scratch with something completely different.

PS: Otherwise, props for the very honest and open article. Running a business is a lot of responsibility and very stressful and it can be comforting to know you're not the only who seems surrounded by world-ending scenarios.

> Forgive my ignorance and bluntness, but reading the above, it sounds more like an anxiety disorder than like depression. Both are serious, but I'm not sure if it helps to confuse the two?

I disagree.

It could easily be case of chronic significant stress/anxiety that lead to depression. It happens a lot. Tons of reputable articles on it:


The reason why I say that it probably isn't just anxiety was this statement in particular from the story (and there are others):

> Depressed Rand is weird. Don’t get me wrong, regular Rand is weird, too. But depressed Rand magnifies the bad 10X and minimizes the good. He refuses to even acknowledge good news and, because he’s a pretty smart guy, he can usually argue for why that good news is actually just temporary and will turn to shit any minute. The weird part is, I think depressed Rand is actually a very authentic version of myself. When I felt depressed, I upheld TAGFEE – particularly the values of transparency and authenticity – as the reasons why I could and should be such a raging, all-consuming, negative naysayer.

> just anxiety

Don't make the mistake of thinking that an anxiety disorder is trivial or that gp parent comment was trivialising something as "just anxiety", as being less than depression.

Sorry about that. I am not trying to minimize anxiety with that phrasing, but rather trying to stress that the situation was more complex than -- just one thing --.

Yeah, that paragraph sounds like anxiety to me - why does it sound like depression to you?

This is classic depression:

> But depressed Rand magnifies the bad 10X and minimizes the good.

You find that in descriptions of depression:


(e.g. "you feel hopeless and helpless." "you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.")

You do not find that in descriptions of anxiety:


My concern is that you are mixing together the definitions of anxiety and depression so that there is no difference between them, but they are in fact different things. Anxiety is generally does not consist of a feeling of constant doom/dread, but rather a feeling of anxiety/nervousness (which is a type of excitability, shortness of breath, tightness, flight or flight response, etc.)

Anxiety is more in the moment (whether that trigger is drugs/caffiene, or a situation that provokes it), where as depression is a constant (you wake up with it and it stays with you all day.)

It is useful to think of anxiety as a form of excitability (which provokes action, or at least that is the psychology point of anxiety), whereas depression is sort of the opposite (it reduces motivation for action.)

The "doom/dread" spoken of is not the doom/dread you are associating it with. Anxiety disorder (regular panic attacks) absolutely comes with a sudden feeling of impending doom/dread. That is its most characteristic trait!

Sufferers of panic disorder sometimes feel so convinced they are going to die imminently they end up in the emergency room, only to be told there is nothing physically wrong and that they are suffering a panic attack.

And generalised anxiety can result in a fairly consistent state of anxiety about things with a vague sense of impending doom.

I agree panic attacks are not a constant feeling of doom/dread. They have a sudden onset and usually pass within minutes (though can reoccur regularly for hours or longer when unmanaged). This can then be followed by a constant jitteriness, even shaking, feeling weak and feeling anxious for days or even weeks following a bad attack.

Also, anxiety attacks are not necessarily triggered by drugs/caffeine or a trigger situation. They can occur completely randomly when perfectly calm and relaxed and not thinking about anything in particular.

I also agree anxiety is very distinct from depression. But the two often occur together.

Slightly off-topic, but I wanted to expand on anxiety quick:

> Anxiety, though, (and I'm speaking from experience here, having had some light anxiety attacks caused by too much regular caffeine usage) seems to be characterised by a feeling of impending doom, that everything is wrong, it can't be fixed, it's all hopeless, etc.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder earlier this year, after some career-related stress gave me a panic attack. Your description, the feeling of impending doom, everything is wrong, etc. is spot on. For me, it feels like a broken fight-or-flight response. I feel like I have to physically do something right now, and if I don't then something very bad is going to happen.

After my first panic attack, I immediately scheduled an appointment with a doctor. I was prescribed Xanax to take whenever I feel anxious, and then I was given a recommendation to see a therapist.

The therapy has helped, but by far the biggest improvement has come from daily, rigorous exercise.

Two months ago I started running twice each day, along with walking to/from work and walking our dog. My anxiety has been almost completely eradicated, excluding a couple random 5-minute bouts every other week, whereas before it was an every day, all day thing. I'm also happy to say that I have not had to use the Xanax at all since I began exercising.

If you're feeling any of the symptoms of anxiety (feeling of impending doom, it's all hopeless, etc.) or depression, please, make an appointment and see a doctor. You can get help.

Two things to keep in mind: 1) There is more than one kind of depression 2) Its actually common for Depression and Anxiety often go hand in hand.

Anxiety and Depression often go together. There are neurophysiological reasons for this. I found that lack of quality sleep, energy drinks and prozac was a really bad combination.

Note: I'm not a physician and this is not medical advice. I have experienced more than a few medical misadventures along the way.

This suddenly feels way too familiar. Thanks for writing this - and I think I'm going to try going decaf for a couple of weeks and see whether or not my anxiety eases.

You need something like 14 days for caffeine withdrawal to cease (during which anxiety may temporarily increase). And any effect from changing things about might take weeks to have an effect on anxiety (perhaps up to 6-12 weeks). Exercise (if tolerated) can have an effect in about two hours, and I've read papers which suggest some prescribed (and indicated) medications can have an effect in around 3 hours. But withdrawing stimulants such as caffeine, although essential to long term recovery, generally doesn't have a sudden effect. Similarly, some standard treatments for anxiety actually increase symptoms in the short term (e.g. patients who were given sedative antihistamines in the past, which are no longer recommended as a treatment, used to be advised that their symptoms may initially increase).

See also my reply to rbinv below, for more details on what it feels like for me, if you're curious.

Could you please elaborate on your caffeine-related anxiety attacks?

I can speak from my experience. I was for a long time drinking 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning. During the morning, generally things were good and I could crank out code. However, during early-mid afternoon I'd often get overwhelmed, tired, and unfocused, especially when multitasking, and often would lapse into a browse-reddit/agh-i'm-not-being-productive/browse-more-reddit cycle. Cutting down to one 1 cup in the morning has made a real difference - I no longer get the early afternoon slump, and can stay focused for longer in the afternoon without being overwhelmed by a long task list.

I'll throw in a personal experience with caffeine. I was feeling really bad (anxiety-attack-ish, according to Google) whenever I sat down to work on my thesis, a few years back. I'd use nice coffee to bribe myself to work on the thing. One day I went to work on the thesis after going to the gym and left my heart-rate monitor on. I noticed that this bad feeling coincided with a seated heart rate of 110 bpm, long enough after exercise that it should have been around 68. Investigation and experimentation ensued. Short version: caffeine + hard thinking about something scary launched me into a real physical anxiety attack; just switching to green tea allowed me to continue my work ritual without the panic.


I've found that when I drink coffee regularly over a long period, my intake invariably increases. Eventually, it reaches 2 cups of double-espresso-with-milk or equivalent a day, and goes past that too... after a few weeks or something months of that, I start getting strange episodes at random times that I describe as "light anxiety attacks".

The way they feel is that I get an impression that something, SOMETHING is wrong. I'm not sure quite what, but I don't realise that I'm not sure what until I realise I'm having one of these attacks. There's an unpleasant feeling of tension that starts in the chest and radiates out to the rest of the body - all the way to fingers and feet, through shoulders, knees, etc. That's the physiological aspects. Mentally, I feel like everything is going wrong. Nothing looks like it's going to work out. I tend to be more aggressive and curt with people, and extremely negative of course, since nothing seems like a good idea. In one of these episodes, I could easily find myself thinking that this business that I run, that employs 17 people and turns over over a million pounds, is doomed and that I should just leave it and run away from it and do something else. When I think something so ridiculous, usually some part of me wakes up and says "hey, that's not quite right", and then I realise I am having an anxiety attack.

If awake, once I realise that's what's going on I can deal with it fairly effectively. Get rid of any physical discomforts (e.g. go pee if I need to pee), have some water, take some deep breaths, and refocus on positive things. It used to take longer, but by now, once I realise it's happening, I can get out of it in a couple of minutes, even while I'm in the middle of conversation with others, so it's not noticeable to others.

If I'm asleep, it's more bothersome, because I'm unlikely to notice it in a half-dream state... so I'll lie in bed half-awake and half into some kind of mild nightmare where everything keeps going wrong and I feel stressed. Eventually, 30-60 minutes later, I'll actually realise what's going on, and go and open the window, take some deep breaths, go to the loo, have some water, etc... then once it's calmed away, I can go back to sleep.

I would not call this an "anxiety attack" in the full sense because usually people who suffer anxiety attacks can't get out of them so easily... but it definitely seems to overlap with the general understanding of what an anxiety attack is meant to be like. So I call this a "very mild anxiety attack".

I've noticed that when those are happening more regularly (e.g. once or twice a day), if I reduce my caffeine intake to zero, they go away almost entirely within a couple of days. So I'm pretty sure it's caffeine-induced.

I've read that anxiety and depression often present together, so much so that it's hard to tell which is the primary issue.

I personally suffer from anxiety without depression, so it seems easy for me to tell the difference. An anxiety attack for me is something that comes on very suddenly, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of impending doom. Usually it's a feeling that I'm about to lose control or drop dead right then and there. The thought that often goes through my head is, "oh no, something isn't right, this can't be right, I have to call an ambulance" or "I have to get out of here, now!". When the attack passes, it is followed by feeling extremely jittery, weak and anxious for hours or even days. During the attack, any number of physiological symptoms present, including pounding heart, feeling like I might pass out, wind, diarrhea, feeling weak, etc.

I did suffer from mild and occasional depression when younger. It seemed to be more of a feeling of disappointment with various things in life leading to an extended malaise, but with a chemical origin (brain chemistry). (I think of such episodes as "chemical depression" as opposed to "ordinary depression".)

But because anxiety and depression can often go together, it is not usually so easy to distinguish them.

I read that sunshine and aerobic exercise help with both depression and anxiety (in my case exercise helped more than normal since I used to be overweight; a contributor to my depression at the time).

Treating either depression or anxiety seems to require a multi-pronged approach. Most important in my experience seems to be teaching yourself (or be taught) how to shut down unproductive thought patterns as soon as they occur. They are habits which apparently exacerbate both issues (not necessarily immediately, but cumulatively).

For anxiety, ruthlessly removing sources of anxiety (especially initially) can be helpful in the long run. Being blunt with people and simply telling them what the issues are that are stressing you out, and how much of an impact that is having on you, can help. Bottling up those issues and being unassertive and endlessly constructing "what-if" scenarios before or after the fact, exacerbates the problem.

For anxiety, cut out caffeine and other stimulants. Avoid intense anaerobic stress (e.g. heavy weightlifting or aerobic exercise past the point of exhaustion), which stresses the nervous system. Also keeping the system running smoothly (e.g. modifying your diet for smooth digestive transit and controlling any allergies with standard hayfever antihistamines) seems to substantially lower overall stress levels.

And obviously there are pharmaceutical options if you consult people qualified to dispense them.

At some point you begin to realise you haven't had any real attacks in a while and that you are recovering. That relief in itself helps in the recovery process for anxiety (which I have heard can take months or even years in some individuals).

I've had both separately and at the same time. Anxiety causes me to have a panic attack, but its the depression that causes me to dwell and feel trapped by the anxiety. Otherwise with no depression I can easily shrug it off and continue as normal.

That's interesting. I have had panic attacks so severely that it is impossible to shake them off. My jitters and anxiety about further attacks can go on for hours or even days. I think I have a normal amount of depression ensuing from this, but not what I'd call clinical depression.

If I could put it into words, I'd say I felt more scared than depressed. "What if this is how my life will be from now on? I don't see how I could possibly cope. This must be what torture feels like."

(Fortunately the reality is that I managed to stabilise my anxiety using some of the methods I mentioned, to the point that I have few if any discernible symptoms for periods of months at a time.)

I've actually read papers by psychologists who seem genuinely unaware that quite severe anxiety disorder can present without any significant depression.

However, when I was a teenager I had a form of OCD that psychologists at the time considered to be a holy grail, essentially untreatable. I taught myself some mental tricks, which I later learned are standard fare for psychologists (CBT basically, although I'd never heard that term), and it went away after two years. I really and honestly thought full recovery wasn't possible at the time on the basis of what psychologists thought.

With anxiety, I choose not to own the condition. I don't feel attached to it in any way. I view it as definitely temporary, even if it does still flare up occasionally. And I believe that full recovery is realistic based on my past experience.

Of course I am just lucky that I don't have clinical depression to go with my anxiety. But I have friends who have fully recovered from that.

"I've actually read papers by psychologists who seem genuinely unaware that quite severe anxiety disorder can present without any significant depression."

That's incredible to me. Since this is mostly my condition.

Swombat, that is both ignorant and blunt.

Please don't try to imagine what goes on in someone else's mind.

I read through this and the Can't Sleep/Loop post, which had me wiping my eyes. I feel I'm there, right now.

We're in the middle of raising money, while I also keep the engineering ship moving forward with product releases. We're about to run out of initial seed money, as we were supposed to have brought in the balance of the round and been on to Series A at this point. It's challenging, but I feel like I'm handling it.

Or so I thought. It turns out, I'm getting little sleep right now -- maybe 4-5 hours a night, on average. I've gained back so much weight and I abhor seeing myself in photos. I watch colleagues take absurd plans to investors and get way overfunded, more than they were ever asking to take on, while our little operation that's actually generating revenue (we will likely be break-even in 6 months) gets passed. I know it's not a rational reaction, but still the mental headwinds it creates really sap my soul.

It sucks when you're a (very) logical being, and something in your head no longer fits into place. I'm short with my kids at home, and I literally dread downtime. I find that cocktails go down easy, really easy.

It's a loop, alright.

Slightly OT, but I read the whole thing thinking Moz was a nickname for Mozilla, or, at the least, that Moz was related to Mozilla.

It's still good to get these stories.

Yep, I was very confused by this as well. Never heard of this company, but 'moz' is a common nickname for Mozilla, I believe.

It's more than a coincidence. The company's original name, SEOMoz, was inspired by projects like DMOZ [1], an "open" web directory that started under the mozilla.org umbrella.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMOZ

Depression in technology is a very common condition. If you suffer from it, please know you ARE NOT ALONE. This talk is very honest, open and has some really helpful and practical advice.


Mental illness impacts more people than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Unfortunately only 1/3 of people who have the illness get treatment due to cost, access, stigma, etc.

We're working on an app that uses technology to help bring clinically proven treatments to market at a price point that dramatically improve access. We are pairing this with product design that's common on the consumer web but uncommon in mental health apps to help with adherence and engagement with treatment.

I hope this isn't perceived as attempting to capitalize on a serious thread. We (the founders) have incredibly personal reasons for perusing this problem. Many in this thread are likely ideal early adopters for the product. The general awareness that this discussion is raising is a good opportunity to reach out and ask for help as helping us will ultimately help many others.

Two ways to help:

(1) 7 question survey, < 1 min to complete: http://bit.ly/1plE2Rg

(2) contact us directly via cbtmobileapp@gmail.com if you'd like to provide insight via a more in-depth interview.

We talk a lot about successes.

It's also good to talk about failures, both partial and more complete.

And redemption.

The road to victory is long, and I would put my back against Rand because I know this struggle has made him better.

I saw an idea of writing about rejections and failures in science earlier this year, e.g. http://composition.al/blog/2014/04/29/rejections/

I think there's still risk of others reading a list like that and thinking "look how much they _do_", but it's definitely an improvement on the usual pattern of sharing only successes and good news.

I think the idea that after a business failure someone needs 'redemption' is harmful. Sometimes businesses fail and the person doesn't try to start another business, and that's okay.

Not an overnight fix. But with sustained effort, meditation changed my life. Eventually other things fell in place. Diet, exercise, relationships, mental health. Buddhist teachings really helped too.

I started here. http://headspace.com

Here's what the English "National Institute for Health and Care Excellence" say: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG90

As somebody who is not depressed, it is always confronting to see just how hard depressed people are on themselves.

Is confronting the word you meant to use? It does not make much sense in this context. But the alternative explanation is that an attempt at "comforting" was auto-corrected to confronting. But being "comforted" by another person's sadness makes it appear that you are a "less than virtuous and decent" person and that does not seem like something you would want to advertise.

His writing style suggests either he's dyslexic or that English isn't his first language.

He seems to reside in .au and has a decent command of English idioms. Quotes like the following lead me to believe he is simply a little "less than classy and virtuous."

   Dont be  a depressed waste  of space like I  was...Id even
   get on something like Tinder and start getting pussy again
   just for your self esteem and self worth.

Maybe l33tbro meant "disconcerting"?

Perhaps "confounding". That sounds right to me.

One of the most honest blog post I've ever read.


I started writing poetry when i got depressed - www.thinknothing.co

I've been through this at every startup I founded, but managed to pull through in the end - and I'm still hoping this startup won't be any different. I struggle to imagine if any CEO has not had a tough time like this and felt utterly depressed at least once when things weren't working out. Rather than focus on the depression aspect however, why not discuss what COULD have been done better, and what Rand and other CEOs can learn from this - because ultimately there's an important lesson there besides "depression sucks":

- Don't bet your whole business on one product. Products come and go, businesses pivot. Remember how Steve Jobs launched the Mac? He created a separate, small division for the Macintosh to directly compete with the rest of the company (working on Lisa - which wasn't going well actaully). That's genius. He knew Mac is a risky project that could well take much longer than anticipated. He didn't bet the whole house.

- Start as small as possible. Moz Analytics was meant to be this giant swiss army knife right? Wrong. MVP lessons still apply. Couldn't you have launched the new brand with a tiny set of core features? Broke it into a modular setup where consumers could pay for features/modules in the future as you develop them?

- Iterate. Real artists ship, remember? Agile software development and all that? Doesn't sound like you had clearly defined iterative goals that you were hitting as you went, because then you'd really have an idea for where you are in the software development process. You seemed to have to go on someone's word on this. Instead you should have been producing A product every month with an increasing set of features. That way you could have still launched on time, but with less features.

- Review your progress often, and don't loose sight of the grand mission. Being smart doesn't help here - it often makes you stubborn, and I've got the same issue. But sometimes you need to have that thc-truffle, take a step back and think how else you could allocate your resources. Are there some other opportunities that the business can simultaneously pursue with a small set of resources as a backup plan? Are there some major M&A deals that can be done to shuffle things around? Do we need to hire more staff / or let people go who aren't hitting the deadlines? Drastic times call for drastic measures. The biggest issue with depression is that deep inside you still expect things to just get better on their own. And as they don't, you feel worse. Well the bad news is they won't get better on their own. You have to do something about it.

- Don't fail to communicate. The value of your business is in its passionate community, not one product. Seems like there are lots of people passionate about SeoMoz. Instead of shutting yourself out due to what appeared to you as a product failure, perhaps you could have engaged the community in the process, help you establish the product roadmap for the features you should be rolling out first, and try to understand why 90k of sign ups failed to try out the product.

I cannot stress how much exercising to exhaustion daily (read: Crossfit) and eating healthy (Slow Carb / Paleo) impacted my depression.

Please try them before you medicate.

I don't doubt that Crossfit does a lot of good, but after reading this I decided not to try it personally:



Aerobic exercise is also great for anxiety disorders, but it is important to note that exercise to exhaustion can severely complicate anxiety, as opposed to depression. The reason is that it stresses the nervous system (producing excess cortisol) and ultimately intensifies anxiety attacks. The same goes for anaerobic exercise. It's equivalent to exercising to exhaustion, at even moderate intensity.

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