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Start-Up Founders On Dealing With Depression 257

Posted by timothy
from the blue-mondays dept.
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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Start-Up Founders On Dealing With Depression

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  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:06PM (#46654735) Homepage

    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.

  • Um.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shoten (260439) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:07PM (#46654745)

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

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:15PM (#46654849) Journal

    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.

  • Depression (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:20PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:22PM (#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.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:44PM (#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.

  • How I deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:51PM (#46655321) Homepage

    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.

  • by dsgrntlxmply (610492) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:38PM (#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.

  • by Theovon (109752) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:30PM (#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.

  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:47PM (#46657059)

    No lollipop for you. Getting angry doesn't make you more intelligent. Angry people are famous, in fact, for doing really stupid things.

    However, at least some forms of depression seem to be related to obsession. You receive what most people would think of as a minor emotional injury and you can't let go of it. It drags you down constantly as it replays over and over in your head.

    Receiving a MAJOR emotional injury where "they all team up to try to destroy you" is more likely to end up with a major shooting incident or the like.

    Obsession can be crippling when it comes to handling injuries, but obsession IS considered a sign of genius when you can't let go of a creative idea and keep pursuing it long after sensible people would have dropped it.

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