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Start-Up Founders On Dealing With Depression

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the blue-mondays dept.

Businesses 257

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Founders at a number of Boston startups shared their stories of building and growing a company while battling depression. One founder didn't even realize he was depressed until glucose and blood tests came back normal, while another said it was worse than her life struggles growing up in the projects. All shared different coping mechanisms. Any advice for dealing with the same?"

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Oh yeah it can be tough (4, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | about 10 months ago | (#46654647)

When I ran a start-up, I remember the pressure being crazy. I believe I had gastric reflux pretty bad. Then when it failed (like most start-ups do), it hit pretty hard. The good news is that it was an incredible experience, and I learned a great deal about business and life from it.

Re:Oh yeah it can be tough (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 10 months ago | (#46654961)

Giving up sex for more office hours.

Bad things happen.

Well???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655573)

What did you learn? Stuff, mostly?

Re:Oh yeah it can be tough (4, Interesting)

ebusinessmedia1 (561777) | about 10 months ago | (#46656567)

If you are feeling depressed or anxious, go see someone - a counselor; a psychiatrist; a pastor; a good friend that you trust, etc. Another thing you can do is avail yourself of one of the better self-help books out there; it's called "Feeling Good" by David Burns. I highly recommend reading the first 50 pages, minimum, and doing the exercises (about 10 minutes per day) to start; the book is based on years of solid research and is very accessible. The techniques described have been proven in labs all over the world.

The reason I like this book is because the techniques employed are lab tested; it is not a "feel good" book; it's a book that describes how to deal with the thoughts that cause depression - i.e. cognitive distortions, and how to "talk back" to those distortions in ways that effectively disarm them. Feeling Good is available for about $10 from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-... [amazon.com] ; it is used by therapists all over the world and is probably the most effective book of its kind. btw, this book is also helpful for people who are just going through a rough patch, but are not depressed.

By... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654657)

Reading slashdot?

beer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654681)


Get a conventional job and arrangement. (2)

sethstorm (512897) | about 10 months ago | (#46654695)

As Ricardo's comparative advantage would say: Not everyone is fit to handle a start-up, nor should they be pushed to it by policies making every other condition second-class.

Of course, that may not fly well with some.

Exercise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654707)


There's only one thing; (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 10 months ago | (#46654735)

There's only one piece of advice those who think they may be suffering from anxiety or depression need: Seek professional help as soon as possible, and ignore the ignorant fuckers who tell you to just man up and move on.

The level and type of professional help you'll need may be a counselor, may be full on treatment - but you'll never regret it.

Re:There's only one thing; (2, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 10 months ago | (#46654933)

Dude, just fucking man up.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656667)

Is that even legal?!?

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655373)

Many companies offer some kind of plan that can cover the costs of such activities. As company founders, they have particular sway over the kind of health coverage offered to employees (including themselves). It may be a little different if you are talking about your own S-corp that is still struggling to get started. Obamacare mandates coverage for depression screening, so you should have at least some coverage.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655415)

You may regret the life long addiction to anti-depressants where you have to steadily increase dosages and move on to stronger and stronger drugs once as body gains tolerance. If you do manage to break the cycle, the withdraw symptoms exactly match your original depression and you're never sure if you've been cured or not so you go back on the meds. The stronger the pills the more side effects you get and soon you're taking many different types of pills in poor attempts to manage the side effects. All these build on each other and you're spending hundreds of dollars a month.

Definitely seek a counselor, but if you're not actively trying to kill yourself I highly recommend trying everything else before you start taking anti-depressants. The biggest alternatives are more sunlight, better excursive, counseling, better diet (normally meaning more veggies), and getting a pet (but only if you can care for it, maybe try fostering to test it out).

Man up is poor advice, but minor depression tends to clear itself up after a few months so it does have some merit (and the depressed person will hate you for saying it).

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655637)

I forgot sleep. Getting enough good sleep is very important. If you require something to pick yourself up during the day or to wake up in the morning you're not getting enough sleep.

Re:There's only one thing; (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655671)

Experiences like that tend to happen if you have dealt with a bad professional or ignored professional advice (or in a rare case, have a lifelong imbalance of some sorts, in which case alternatives might not work anyway). You should be using the antidepressants to help with sources of problems, to help you get back on your feet so you don't need them anymore. Unfortunately, too many people go to a GP and demand something, get a prescription, then never follow through with actually fixing or dealing with things.

The antidepressants are supposed to be like a bandage that stops a wound from getting infected, poked at, and gives it a chance to heal. Except in this case the healing is not a passive thing usually, and you need to be working on making things better once you have motivation to get things done, with or without the help of counseling. The only reason most people should see an increase in dosage is because the original dosage didn't work from the start, not because of tolerance build up, and then as things progress they should be lowering dosage with time. At the very least, any reasonable professional should be quite aware of withdrawal issues and not mistake it for just needing to go back on the drugs.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655951)

Depression is a swath of issues, problems, and illnesses, many of which can be inherited without any psychological merit. These "bleeds" don't heal, these people were never meant to stand in the first place.

In the case of this article, sure, you can say this, but you're being to generic.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655973)

more sunlight, better excursive, counseling, better diet (normally meaning more veggies), and getting a pet

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why one should not take medical advice from the Internet.

I'm glad that the majority of people don't list such things as cures for cancer (anymore... much), but when it comes to mental health, everyone's an expert. Even the only generally relevant item on that list - counselling - is vague (CBT? psychotherapy? a cup of tea and a chat?) and might be entirely useless without medication to get a person in a position to begin recovery.

There's another thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655459)

Something I haven't seen anyone else mentioning is that seeking professional help ... gets you professional help. Getting professional help may lead to a diagnose of depression (or something similar).

Depending on the laws of your country, this may not be something you want on your record. As a business owner (as opposed to being an employee) you may well have income insurance for if you end up disabled (or similar). If for any reason they need to re-evaluate that insurance contract or you need a new one altogether, you will now have a condition that may ban you from coverage for any mental illness down the line. I know someone who this has happened to, who was later diagnosed with a completely unrelated (probably) mental illness that has left him practically disabled - and they're not paying due to previous a depression diagnose.

I'm not saying you shouldn't get help if you think you are depressed - but try the usual remedies yourself (abstain from all drugs at least for three months, exercise enough, sit in the sun enough, eat well, have sex, etc) before you go running off and get diagnosed.

I own a company myself as well, and have for almost a decade. It's hard. It's stressful. It's certainly not for everybody. I might suffer from mild depression myself now and then, but I did that before running a company as well, so they're not necessarily related.

Nowadays I make it a point to exercise an hour each day though, if at all possible outside in the sun (this 'winter' has been great here in Europe) - usually running or cycling. It helps - a lot.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655477)

but you'll never regret it

Until you apply for any job that requires a security clearance. Or try to buy a firearm. Or be charged with a crime.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655791)

Hasn't caused and problems with me (and some coworkers) with doing the first two of the three you listed. In the first case, just don't lie about it.

Re:There's only one thing; (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 10 months ago | (#46655611)

Indeed, may I add one caveated to that, educate yourself on what the professional advises, read the labels and be aware of the side-effects of anti-anxiety pills such as Zoloft, mixed with regular alcohol I've seen at least 4 middle aged friends have their lives totally wrecked by that particular combination, two of whom ended up spending time in jail, not to mention the distress caused to their partners and kids. This is because we need some stress, it's the bodily signal that tells you what you are doing is wrong/dangerous, unfortunately I was too slow to make the connection in my ex-wife's behaviour to save my own 20yr marriage.

So my advise is seek professional help from a qualified psychiatrist who will probably recommend a good counsellor. Do not accept a script from an ordinary GP, ask for a referral to a physiatrist for a second opinion. Above all educate yourself enough about any drugs you are given, especially the unwanted side-effects that can be far worse than the anxiety attacks. Used properly the drugs are effective, I have more friends that have benefited from their correct use than have suffered from incorrect use.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 10 months ago | (#46656029)

Mod parent up!

Re:There's only one thing; (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 10 months ago | (#46656287)

LOL! My friend started taking zoloft and ended up getting kicked out of a bar for trying to spin a stool on his finger... over and over again, because in his warped world, he was spinning it for a long time before it fell. Then he went out to the parking lot, and assaulted some guy who was making out with a woman. He thought he was batman and that he was saving her from an attack.

Luckily, he escaped the police and a family member got him better treatment; involved quitting the startup, changing medications, and not drinking. He's doing much better now. But he doesn't go to bars... he realizes he can't drink while on psychiatric medications.

Re:There's only one thing; (0)

John Bokma (834313) | about 10 months ago | (#46656519)

Another caveat, and a much more important one at that: there is something called TRD: Treatment Resistant Depression. SSRIs have been proven to have barely any effect at all (https://www.google.com/search?q=SSRI%20ineffective ).

What seems to be way more effective is ketamine: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com] But it suffers from not being easy to administer (40 mins IV drip), not being approved for treatment in depression. And maybe most importantly (or tinfoil hat): there's little money in it...

Re:There's only one thing; (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656571)

Research on the effectiveness is a real mess, because there are way too many studies that fail to take into account relevant things. A big one is a lot of studies that show ineffectiveness in general don't hold up if you factor in what situation the SSRIs were prescribed in. There are a lot of situations, especially if prescribed by a GP, where they are not useful, and lumping that together with more straightforward cases skews everything.

Re:There's only one thing; (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about 10 months ago | (#46656897)

And then there are studies who exaggerate greatly the effectiveness of SSRIs. If they actually helped, why do people need to switch regularly and add / remove other meds as well. My experience is that it's just like throwing things at a wall to see what sticks.

Re:There's only one thing; (2)

seebs (15766) | about 10 months ago | (#46655981)

Pretty much this, yeah.

You know, if any other part of your body hurt or stopped working as-expected, you'd probably go to a doctor pretty early on. But we have this cultural ideal that "willpower" is a virtue, so people want to "be strong". But you know, if stamina were a "virtue", would that mean that you should just laugh it off if you suddenly couldn't do normal things without being out of breath? No, it would not.

Gratuitously stolen, but... (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 10 months ago | (#46654737)

"I hate my job. Is there a support group for people like me?"

"Yes, it's called Everyone. we meet at the bar."

Re:Gratuitously stolen, but... (0)

datorum (1280144) | about 10 months ago | (#46655313)

sorry, I wanted to rate "funny" but hit "overrated"... someone please correct that " If you continue to post this comment, all moderations done to this discussion will be undone! Are you sure you want to post?" well, I guess I can at least undo it, this way.

Re:Gratuitously stolen, but... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 10 months ago | (#46656309)

News flash: the drunks at the bar may think they're just like "everyone," but most people are not at the bar.

Re:Gratuitously stolen, but... (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 10 months ago | (#46656877)

News flash: the drunks at the bar may think they're just like "everyone," but most people are not at the bar.

I don't go to bars. They depress me.

Um.... (3, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about 10 months ago | (#46654745)

Maybe try getting professional help? Instead of asking Slashdot? Just saying.

Re:Um.... (1, Insightful)

BradMajors (995624) | about 10 months ago | (#46655269)

"Professional help" does not have a high success rate for treating depression.

Normal is bad? (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 10 months ago | (#46654761)

One founder didn't even realize he was depressed until glucose and blood tests came back normal

What? His tests came back normal and that was a sign of depression? Oh, I see, it was just a poor summary.

Re:Normal is bad? (1)

Neruocomp (513658) | about 10 months ago | (#46654859)

Maybe poor for not explaining that a symptom of depression is fatigue and decreased energy.

Re:Normal is bad? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#46655133)

And I, on the other hand, thought I suffered from depression, but then the blood tests came back and I turned out to have a substantial chronic hypoglycemia. So it goes. ;-)

(Oh, and then they told me that I'm a schizoid, so I still may be more inclined towards comorbid depression anyway. Crap.)

Huh? (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 10 months ago | (#46654765)

One founder didn't even realize he was depressed until glucose and blood tests came back normal

If his results were normal why would that indicate he had depression?

Re:Huh? (1)

Neruocomp (513658) | about 10 months ago | (#46654837)

One of the symptoms of depression is fatigue and decreased energy

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654857)

Neither of which were indicated by the tests.

Re:Huh? (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 10 months ago | (#46655079)

But if you rule out a reasonable amount of everything else, attempting to treat depression may give results.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655117)

Those tests remove other possible sources of those symptoms. Diagnosing a lot of psychological conditions requires removing or ruling out other possible sources of symptoms. E.g. don't diagnose with psychosis if they've just taken a bunch of psycho-active drugs.

Re:Huh? (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 months ago | (#46655177)

One of the symptoms of depression is fatigue and decreased energy

So if I'm tired and don't have any energy does that mean I'm depressed?
What's the difference between depressed and just being tired from working too hard or being burnt out?
Basically, if you don't know you're depressed, how do you decide when it's time to be "tested" and are
there even any "tests" that can be done to determine if you are depressed if you aren't displaying classic

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655735)

Fatigue is one of the symptoms, not the only symptom, and even then typically needs to be chronic to be associated with depression. If you want to know about other symptoms and signs, there is already a lot written on the subject from the layperson level up to the professional level and likely to be more comprehensive, concise and correct than what a random Slashdot reply could cover.

Re:Huh? (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 10 months ago | (#46656279)

What's the difference between depressed and just being tired from working too hard or being burnt out?

If you feel tired from working too hard or being burnt out you are depressed. If taking a 3 day weekend, sleeping in late in a hotel in a different city, getting more exercise and sunshine doesn't make you feel refreshed and relitalized, your head is going to a dark place sooner or later.

Re:Huh? (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 10 months ago | (#46654849)

Because depression presents in all kinds of weird ways.
In this case "started to get dizzy and feel sick" could have been anything.
Once blood work ruled out physical problems, that's when you start looking for psychological ones.

Re:Huh? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#46655171)

I thought depression is still a "physical" problem, although not one immediately obvious in blood tests? Otherwise why would you prescribe drugs altering the brain chemistry (which is beyond the blood-brain barrier)?

Re:Huh? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#46656127)

I thought depression is still a "physical" problem, although not one immediately obvious in blood tests? Otherwise why would you prescribe drugs altering the brain chemistry (which is beyond the blood-brain barrier)?

Because there's good money in pharmaceuticals?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654913)

I assume normal tests led him/doctor to realize whatever "symptoms" he was having were from depression and not from abnormal glucose or blood values.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655231)

normal glucose and blood tests rules out diabetes and vampires, both of which are known to cause feelings of, you know, bleah.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656639)

If his results were normal why would that indicate he had depression?

Maybe try RTFA

Check before hand (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 10 months ago | (#46654813)

Maybe don't do a startup until you realise you got a pair. Just sayin'.

Depression is weird (1)

deathcloset (626704) | about 10 months ago | (#46654833)

When you are depressed you are supposed to have lower mental activity, and yet some of the most brilliant people have been known to be clinically depressed [citation not needed]. So then, if depression sometimes comes with brilliance, what gives?

And does this mean that for some people of this class antidepressants (chemical and psychological) have the effect of actually dulling insight and brilliance?

Be depressed, be brilliant: Be happy, be dumb.

Life is such a bitch.

Re:Depression is weird (5, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | about 10 months ago | (#46654951)

Depression is weird

No, its really, really simple actually, even depressingly so. When you're smarter than everyone else, they all team up to try to destroy you. This is very stressful and the effect of the stress is quite distracting in a way that is nearly constant, even when not being actively bullied at that moment. Imagine how much smarter our most brilliant minds would be if they weren't tormented by mainstream society and their "peers" practically from the cradle to the grave.

Re:Depression is weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655839)

No, its really, really simple actually, even depressingly so. When you're smarter than everyone else, they all team up to try to destroy you.

Not really. Some people are just arseholes who like being jerks to other people and are surprised when it's reciprocated. If they have even a fraction more than the usual intelligence, they justify their behaviour by claiming that other people are too stupid to appreciate their inherent inferiority and lack of worth. If they are at all richer than average, they claim their money makes them obviously superior - not just economically but morally - to 'the poors' (poor people are all lazy moochers, you see). If they are handsome, they mock the 'homely-looking'. And if they don't have any of those qualities... well you find them hanging out with classy groups such as white supremacists, congratulating each other on their great success in being born.

Re:Depression is weird (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656059)

Dude, you sound like an asshole.

Re:Depression is weird (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654979)

Intelligent people often have a more realistic view of the world around them, the world is pretty shitty, this makes intelligent people depressed.

Re:Depression is weird (4, Interesting)

Hentai (165906) | about 10 months ago | (#46655027)

When you are depressed you are supposed to have lower mental activity, and yet some of the most brilliant people have been known to be clinically depressed [citation not needed]. So then, if depression sometimes comes with brilliance, what gives?

Here's a weird analogy that seems roughly accurate:

Being depressed is like being perpetually out of gas. You just can't *do* anything.

Now, your average person's brain is a typical Honda 90 horsepower engine. Good gas mileage, terrible performance.

Your average genius's brain is like a Ferrari V8 - super-high performance, but at the cost of needing a LOT more fuel.

If everyone's getting the same amount of emotional 'fuel' from their friends, family, culture, society etc., who's going to run out first?

Re:Depression is weird (1)

AnontheDestroyer (3500983) | about 10 months ago | (#46655137)

Ignorance is bliss, and you're talking about the opposite.

Re:Depression is weird (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655227)

Citation definitely needed. Clinical depression is long term, constant depression (like your cat always just died) with a few dips into major depression (your wife and family burned to death because you left the stove on). The people you were trying to refer to had manic (bipolar) depression. That type of depressions swings from major depression into high manic states. In a manic state you're not depressed, you feel unusually high and optimistic, extremely energetic, and have grandiose beliefs about your own abilities.

Feeling great, having tons of energy, and believing you're the best and capable of doing whatever it is you're trying to do is a recipe for brilliance. When you fail you know you'll get it right in a few more tries, you have the energy to keep trying, and failing never gets you down. Basically you're well motivated and well motivated people normally excel at whatever it is they're trying to do. You don't have to have manic depression to become highly motivated, but sometimes it helps.

Re:Depression is weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655237)

There is a range of strength of symptoms of depression, and they are not constant day to day for many suffers. In extreme cases you can have something that is like combination of bipolar and depression, where you oscillate between normal and really low. That often gets misunderstood as depression (and misdiagnosed by doctors), as does plain bipolar disorder too. If you take someone who is really brilliant and/or productive, they can sometimes make up for the down periods by achieving a lot in the up periods. Even the most brilliant person is going to under-perform, if perform at all, when in a big down swing that includes lack of motivation to do anything.

Re:Depression is weird (4, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 10 months ago | (#46656819)

There is a condition known as "manic depressive disorder." Essentially, you can have a day where you're feeling so great that you decide to move all of the furniture in your house, repaint the living room, run a mile, begin a novel, and more. You have tons of energy and can do it all. And then you crash into the depression stage where getting out of bed is a major achievement.

There were some very brilliant people who did some wonderful things in their manic stages only to sink into horrible depression stages (sometimes committing suicide while in these).

Advice? (1)

mikes.song (830361) | about 10 months ago | (#46654845)

Make more money!

Re:Advice? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#46654927)

Money cannot buy happyness.

But you can rent it.

Prozac, Prozac, Prozac (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 10 months ago | (#46654911)

It's all about the meds...

Re:Prozac, Prozac, Prozac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655783)

I was on Prozac for a bit. It had the ironic effect of making me more depressed.

Depression (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654919)

High performance requires high maintenance. Just the way the universe works (entropy and all).

Depression may be an evolutionary stable strait, meaning like pain receptors, it may be there to protect you.

Here are some things I know after studying it for many years, and experiencing it for many years:

1. Get your Thyroid checked (TSH, free T3). Stress among many other things can bring it down and create depression. Even if you are young: Dr.s won't begin testing until you are middle-aged, typically, so ask for it.
2. Walking every day or other healthy exercise is shown to reduce mild to moderate depressive symptoms in studies over and over again
3. Take a B complex vitamin that contains Niacin. Take choline and L-Glutamine for brain food. Look these up.
4. Make sure your blood sugar stays stable. Read up on hypoglycemia. Standard protocol is protein every meal and have 5 small meals a day.
5. Acknowledge your limits and adapt around them.
5. If your thyroid is fine and you are still suffering with depressive symptoms it's time to look at either lowering stress in your life or getting with a good Dr. to help adapt.

Depression will one day be found to have many types I think. It will fool you too by making you think you have thoughts that are your own, but they are as much influenced by mood as your deliberate effort to think. This means simply, if you are depressed, your judgement is not good. That's why support systems are important, but get to good Dr. Your life may depend on it. Oh, and most cases of depression can be remedied.

Re:Depression (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about 10 months ago | (#46656597)

SSRIs have been proven to be barely effective. So no idea what you mean with "remedied". Popping Vit B might help you, but it's not a magic cure.

Advice from someone with chronic depression: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654949)

Don't listen to "successful" people telling you about their "battle with depression". Their experiences are always atypical and usually represent a mild condition. The obsession with listening to heroes, as if a person who is good/lucky with one thing is competent at everything, is thoroughly harmful.

Instead, obtain professional help, and (within that professional framework, if possible) seek peer support from regular people with regular lives. Depression is often made worse by the sufferer's filtered/distorted view of the world, and you're not going to find any answers from a vocal minority.

Exercise and boredom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46654989)

Exercise helps; but only time and boredom seems to be lifting me out of it. Six months ago I thought I'd never program again. Inexplicably, I started to feel more like programming. Strangely, I think the mere observation that the rest of the world was "moving on" while I stood still helped motivate me some. This is the old school, "quit your bitching and get back to work" school of thought on depression. You know, the WW2 father who would just smack you. Sometimes that works; but not on everybody. OTOH, I distinctly remember thinking that there was "no good reason to do anything" and now I think, "there if value in the pure pleasure of crafting good code". It's really hard to nail down to any specific thing. That's why it's such a huge deal...

Clearly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655019)

There is a clear pattern here. They need to leave Boston and move to a real city.

Go out and smell the flowers once in a while (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#46655041)

People who spend dark to dark in their offices often lose sight of life, while scrambling to the top. Give your endorphins a chance to work out, too. We're all headed to the grave, make sure your journey there isn't all work and no play.

Re:Go out and smell the flowers once in a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655203)

Seriously, a little work-life balance? Radical concept, I know.

Re:Go out and smell the flowers once in a while (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#46655577)

Seriously, a little work-life balance? Radical concept, I know.

My oldest sister informed her work-aholic husband she was tired of him not coming home from the office, he was already a success and it was time to delegate some responsibility. He didn't take it seriously and was shocked when she finally filed for divorce.

IMHO, she could have found more to do with her own time, but guess she was too lovey-dovey to be alone.

Re:Go out and smell the flowers once in a while (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655815)

They're suffering from something else I think, because they'd probably really enjoy a little play time. Depression is more like you don't want to do anything and nothing makes fun, even things that most people most the time would find fun. If someone asks you how the food tastes or the movie is good or the weather is nice the height of your scale is "meh, it's okay". I'm there quite often, life's not really miserable in any way but I'm somewhat of a nihilist and nothing I do feels like it matters. There's just the momentary feeling of it but at the end of the day I feel like when I got up, bland and indifferent. I guess it's easy to say "live more" but somehow getting "extreme" isn't triggering anything except maybe a sense of self-preservation. It really all feels like tricks to keep the mind occupied to pass time.

Re:Go out and smell the flowers once in a while (1)

bitt3n (941736) | about 10 months ago | (#46656569)

People who spend dark to dark in their offices often lose sight of life, while scrambling to the top. Give your endorphins a chance to work out, too. We're all headed to the grave, make sure your journey there isn't all work and no play.

Listen to you trying to get me to go home early so you can weasel your way past me to the corner office. I'm onto you, you scheming bastard. You and your bloody endorphins are headed to the grave sooner than you might imagine.

Man The Fuck Up -- Take Drugs -- Talk It Out (4, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | about 10 months ago | (#46655055)

Yes depression is real. Yes people have chemical imbalances or are wired the wrong way. Yes some people are born into shitboxs with terrible life circumstances. Yes some people lose their fortunes taking a crap-shoot gamble on flaky or even sure-fire premises. Depression is complex. It could be sourced from professional failure, home-life problems, neurological imbalances, marital issues. Man the fuck up and face your emotions head on. Or take drugs if your brain doesn't allow you to cope that way. Or just talk to somebody about it and let it all out. Venting is helpful too. Depression is real. Sometimes it is overdiagnosed. Sometimes it is missed in people. There are many coping mechanisms. I'm making generalizations but all in all depression is not a binary state, but a spectrum. This is not news for nerds, but it is stuff that matters, particularly if the rates of depressions are on the rise, rates which could be indicative of the socio-economic status of a populations inhabitants, and perhaps about the greater culture as well. I am a software developer and have no professional qualifications to comment on the matter, but since this is the internet, fuck-all lets give it a go!

Re:Man The Fuck Up -- Take Drugs -- Talk It Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655471)

This may be in agreement with what you say, but "manning up" often means admitting you /do/ have a problem and being willing to get help. A lot harder and requires a lot more courage than might think if you've never actually had to do it.

The Highs and Lows can be a mess (3, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 10 months ago | (#46655239)

I once had to work in a highly stressful environment. I started doing more and more exercise out of work to just forget it all. I stopped having appetite. Eventually I started losing weight really fast. I also started sleeping less and less. I finished and delivered the project to the client, then left.

Afterwards I stopped working for a while. My sleep instead of improving got even worse. It came to a time where I did not sleep for 3 days straight. That was when everything started going bonkers. I got highly irritable at the slightest things. Blood pressure went down for no reason at all. I went to the hospital to get some diagnosis on my sleeping problems. While I was waiting for my appointment I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was lying in an hospital bed.

When I finally got a proper diagnosis and got proper medication, a trial in itself, my condition improved. After a couple of months I went back to work again.

My advice to you is if you are in a stressful work environment either change your conditions or leave it ASAP. Preferably prevent it from happening in the first place. Try to keep a private life outside of work in order to avoid getting stuck into mind loops. If you keep doing the same workload that is causing you to be stressed under the medication you may come off the rails. I have seen it happen. This condition is a lot more frequent than people would like to admit it. For whatever reason it seems to be anathema to discuss this subject in Western societies. Even if a lot of famous people e.g. Winston Churchill suffered from it.

Problems of the 1% (0)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#46655277)

Most low-level employees today are depressed. And underpaid. In a poll, 81% of fast-food employees report having wages stolen from them in the form of unpaid time.

How I deal (5, Informative)

ddt (14627) | about 10 months ago | (#46655321)

I've suffered from chronic depression all my adult life, but I didn't want to medicate unless it was a medicine which could cure me, which doesn't exist (yet). I've been an entrepreneur for most of my 20+ year career. Here's how I "self-medicate":

  • Moved to a place with lots of sunlight.
  • Sold my car, bicycle everywhere.
  • Got rid of my cell phone, use skype # for calls.
  • Got rid of my TV.
  • Got lots of redundant bandwidth- FIOS, cable, 3G/4G modem
  • Got a roomie.
  • Eat more fish and vegetables.
  • Became a regular at a couple of restaurants.
  • Got involved in local hacker community and broader game dev community.
  • Stay productive. Getting something done every day helps.
  • Work on projects with others, use skype video often if not in same space.
  • Got a medical marijuana certificate. Best when used judiciously.
  • Make a habit of checking in on my last dozen or so thoughts. Are they all sad?

There's no one thing that seems to have done the trick, and it's not a perfect cure. I still have "down days," but I feel a lot better off overall than I used to. I think the hardest thing for anyone to do would be to cut their TV, cell phone, and car out of the picture, but I have to say, these were some of the most helpful things I did. Not only did they dramatically reduced bills but also reduced lots of stress and distractions. Granted, I can find plenty of distractions with my copious internet bandwidth, but at least they're more self-directed.

Re:How I deal (4, Insightful)

nmoore (22729) | about 10 months ago | (#46655635)

I didn't want to medicate unless it was a medicine which could cure me, which doesn't exist (yet)

Got a medical marijuana certificate. Best when used judiciously.

I am not sure how to reconcile these two. Selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors count as medicine, but partial CB1 agonists do not?

Re:How I deal (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 10 months ago | (#46656129)

Wow, is there anything else than productivity in your life ?

Who cares.. what about vets? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655457)

Who cares... you guys don't have anything to whine about so stop.

Brave people who fought for our country (whether our goals or actions as a country were right or wrong doesn't matter) and 22 of them are killing themselves every day. Maybe more. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/

You can get some help after we've helped them.

Group Depression (3, Insightful)

Sanat (702) | about 10 months ago | (#46655517)

When I worked as an engineer at McDonnell Douglas and things were spiraling down... I watched as the energy required to do a small task seemed to require a herculean effort to complete... Seemed that each day there was less employees to do the work... and each of them had less energy to "make it happen"... I have been fortunate not to have to experience this over and over like some individuals have. My heart goes out to those who suffer with depression and with those who struggle maintaining ... whether it is maintaining a job or trying to maintain consciousness to man up and get by.

Better places (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655527)

Get out of Boston. Seriously, there's a whole great big country out there with a whole lot of other, better places to be and live and work. The big, old, provincial, self centered, self absorbed, naval-gazing megacities on the East coast just aren't the place to be.

Add "and smoke weed" to all of the above. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655621)

You think it's a joke today, but give it a few more years of study and we'll see that marijuana is effective in interrupting cyclical depressive thoughts, inspiring curiosity and willingness to learn even during clinical depression, and reducing the sensitivity to pain which inhibits depressed people from adopting better exercise habits. I've seen it work, more than once.

But don't take my word for it until then. Also keep in mind that if you're going to smoke weed, which can rob one of motivation, a depressed weed smoker is no longer immune to the "man up and deal with it" prod. You really do have to man up and deal with things, or you have to quit getting high.

Like a tangled cord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655657)

Feelings generally come from thoughts. That's where psychotherapy comes in. Unfortunately a lot of psychotherapists can make matters worse. I highly recommend a book by Chris Thurman, The Lies We Believe.

During my counseling sessions, I realized why I couldn't fix myself. My thoughts were a tangle, like a tangled cord. Like many people, I knew I was messed up, but I was too stupid and fearful to do anything but pull hard on the cord, which just made matters worse. I need someone to gently take each knot, step by step, and help me replace them with accurate, helpful thoughts.

Entrepreneurship vs. mental illness: distinct? (3, Informative)

dsgrntlxmply (610492) | about 10 months ago | (#46655927)

One model claims that manic depressive tendency is under-recognized and over-represented among entrepreneurs. This sounds intriguing, but I must admit not being aware of any data that directly support the claim.

Another factor is post-mission depression. Here, we have something in common with military people, aid workers, and religious missionaries returning from deployment. One's life was for a time directed by a highly directed sense of purpose and mission, held in common with one's principal cohort. This often was within an organizational structure that made high demands, but diverted attention toward the mission and away from unknowns and uncontrollables. When the mission ends, the coherence and structure end with it.

Startup culture can reward what in other contexts would be seen as manic and obsessive/compulsive behaviors. In a bubble market with an IPO pending or recently made, it can be difficult to distinguish reality from illusion from delusion. For a while, one's life can evolve toward an obsessive focus upon one number: a stock price.

Spoken from experience.

From my experience. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46655971)

Don't own any guns. Avoid streesful situations and social situations as much as possible. Live in your parents basement, and sleep large amounts of the time. When you start to feel down, lethargic or just unhappy about something lay in bed away from all stimuli, then cry until it stops usually a few hours at most. This has worked wonders for me for the past 19 years. I have managed to survive, only hospitalized twice from it, have a mediocre job I dislike and a general fear of the real world, but hey I am here still to enjoy(?) life. Yes this is serious, and yes get real help from real people who know what they are talking about, it can get worse.

Depression can hit anyone (1)

mea2214 (935585) | about 10 months ago | (#46656051)

Depression is a disease much like cancer. If this story was entitled "Start up founders on dealing with cancer," why would anyone think start up founders have any more insight to that suffering than anyone else? Depression can hit anyone, even billionaires without a care in the world. Like cancer, depression too frequently ends in death.

Any advice for dealing with the same? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656073)

Yeah, kill yourself. No one needs your shitty start-up.

one size does not fit all (1)

jafac (1449) | about 10 months ago | (#46656079)

Not all depressions are alike, and not all sufferers are alike.

Some depressions are biological, some are caused by situation; (before diagnosing yourself as depressed, first determine whether or not you are in fact, surrounded by assholes - to paraphrase Twain, I think). Seeing a doctor can help, but sometimes, seeing the wrong kind of doctor can screw you up worse. Some doctors just want to push pills at you. And sometimes, it's the wrong kinds of pills, or sometimes, the problem isn't one that pills can fix. (like - being surrounded by assholes). (or. . . seasonal).

I'd say that if you see someone for help, and you're not getting any better with treatment after 6 weeks, definitely see someone else. I've seen CBT work fairly well for some people. And fail spectacularly for others. (and there are many incompetent therapists, as well).

OUtdoor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656145)

Spend 2-4 hours everyday outside. Go rock climbing, surfing, fishing, whatever you like to do. If you do not know what to do, then find out, just make sure your ass is outdoor.

This sucks... (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 10 months ago | (#46656509)

This whole thread harshes my mellow...

My advice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656533)

...bottle it.

I remember being in the shower and not wanting to get out and go to work.
I made a conscious decision to remember the feeling.
A couple of years later, when the chance to cash out arose, I replayed the tape to stop myself getting greedy.
Retiring (at 45) with more money than I'll ever spend was the best trade I ever made.

While I was in the saddle I used to de-stress by writing PIC assembler - absolutely nothing to do with my business,
but immersive, and cathartic. Beats old fashioned meditation.

Best advice as a post-startup entrepreneur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46656543)

To avoid depression succeed! I'm half-serious. If your not succeeding you picked the wrong job. For most start-ups if you haven't succeeded (ie things are looking bright) within 3 years your best bet is to find a real job. If you haven't made it to the 3 year mark- well, I think the evidence is in and your just not cut out to be an entrepreneur! Go get a real job. (yes, spoken by someone who has succeeded)

Drugs (1)

plopez (54068) | about 10 months ago | (#46656807)

Lots of drugs.

Better intestinal health--better mental health (3, Informative)

Theovon (109752) | about 10 months ago | (#46656903)

SSRIs work reasonably well for a lot of people to help with depression. But that depends on how much serotonin you have in reserve and whether or not the depression is actually caused by low serotonin. One of the major places your body stores serotonin is in the intestinal lining. If you eat a diet that is more conducive to intestinal health, you’ll store serotonin better. Meanwhile, 5-HTP supplements are like eating pure serotonin (there’s actually a two step conversion process from 5-HTP to Tryptophan to Serotonin, IIRC, but 5-HTP passes through the blood-brain barrier much more easily than Tryptophan). And if you are too low in serotonin, an SSRI won’t help, because there just isn’t enough serotonin to reputake inhibit.

Some people are low on norepinepherine too, so an MD might prescribe an SSNRI. Tyrosine (which you can also get in pill form) is a precursor to dopamine, norepinepherine, and epinepherine. Another way to boost dopamine is low-dose (i.e. 4.5mg) naltrexone (LDN), prescribed for a variety of things including chronic fatigue and autoimmune diseases; it’s a dopamine receptor antagonist that causes the brain to produce a net surplus of dopamine. Some people with mood problems also benefit from supplementing GABA, but that never worked for me or my wife, so I don’t know much about it, except that GABA is inhibitory in some parts of the brain and excitatory in others, making it have the opposite of the desired effect for some people.

Another mood enhancer is Theanine. You can get it in pill form, but a great source of that is Kombucha, which is fermented tea. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and probiotics. The probiotics and possibly the moderate amount of vinegar are also helpful for digestion problems.

Getting back to intestinal health, some people have a mild sensitivity to things like dairy (casein, lactose), wheat (gluten), and/or soy. Removing those from your diet may reduce tissue inflamation that interferes with good intestinal function. My kids can’t have dairy in winter. That’s when all these colds and other infections go around. Dairy causes just enough additional inflammation that when they pick up a bug, they much more prone to ear infections that require antibiotics (which tend to also kill off a lot of good bacteria). In small children, eustachian tubes aren’t fully developed and tend to have drainage problems. If we keep them off dairy (they get calcium and protein from other sources), proper drainage prevents ear infections from getting out of hand, and although they probably pick up various infections anyway, the symptoms are so mild that there’s no need to take them to the doctor. IIRC, when I was a kid, my parents observed that if I had too much dairy, I’d get phlemmy and have more trouble with colds and such. The dairy might also directly interfere with immune function. Anyhow, removing that may seem like a mild food irritant can actually have a substantial positive impact on intestinal function due to reduced inflammation and as a result better mucosal lining and better serotonin storage.

Other amino acids people often take to enhance intestinal health (e.g. people diagnose with celiac disease who require a great deal of gut rebuilding) include glycine and glutamine. Google that for more.

Not to get mystical or anything, but everything in the human body is a lot more connected than is suggested by what you learn superficially in high school biology. Why would the human body store serotonin (an important brain neurotransmitter) in the intestinal lining? I don’t know. Because there was no selective pressure not to? Perhaps the mucosal lining that partly serves to protect your tissues from getting digested themselves just happens to be good at suspending other things the body needs to store. Either way, the link is well established (see http://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/16/6348.full.pdf in the Journal of Neuroscience, for instance). Some things may seem obvious, like maintaining proper blood sugar levels (prefer low glycemic foods) and making sure you get enough protein are good for mental function; in fact, the link goes much deeper. Eat well, and you’ll think well.

Been there.. (3, Insightful)

john_uy (187459) | about 10 months ago | (#46656937)

I think the most important medicine is to surround yourself with people who care and are able to support. Me and my colleagues started a business. Things are going well now but I had those bout of depression before (including thoughts of suicide.) Before, I felt alone in an island. The image of me being perfect was so high that I didn't open up to other people.

Now, it is different, I've learned to share and ask for support from my family and close friends. I have learned that I am not superman and I do make mistakes. I have learned to take care of myself and love myself more. :) Life is so much better now. :)

P.S. May be one bonus for me is that I am generally a happy person living a simple life. Though one disadvantage is that if bad things happen, it does probably hit me harder than other people. I also didn't take any prescription medicine.

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