Programmers Depressed?

It is kind of sad that I get more amusement from the local TV news than actual information. While they are having their daily, being fat affects your heart (I call that ground breaking investigative reporting,) health segment they manage to make me feel bad. The screen shows people in front of computers in their cubicles and the voice over tell us how depressed people are more likely to die from heart disease.

This thought entered my head, are programmers more prone to being depressed? Do people think we are boring depressed people?

My job requires tons of concentration. More than just memorizing a new language where it matters if you are missing a single space, programmers have to solve problems on the fly and in their head. We tend to like either a quiet environment or we like to be able to control the noise. I personally can program to music blasting from headphones, but not to someone talking on the phone. Most programmers that I have met also like to have coding sessions where they just don’t communicate with others. Do other people at the office think we are introverted and depressed people?

I have been depressed in the past but it has never had to do with my type of job. I don’t think that having to work in front of a computer screen makes me more prone to depression, but maybe that is the general consensus. Do people think that Dilbert is depressed? I really would like to know, do other people see cubicle dwellers as sad, poster children for depression?

3 Responses to Programmers Depressed?

  1. I don’t think it has anything to do with the job itself…it has a lot more to do with if you allow the job to cut you off from other human interaction. Yes, at times we all need time away to work and concentrate, but it’s how we come back, seek out other human contact, etc that I think can be the issue. It is here that the danger of podcasting can come in…I spend a lot of time on my computer and I listen to quite a few podcasts. It helps me pass the time and it’s a nice break from the music every once in a while. But I think we can get into a trap where we feel because we’ve listend to podcasts or interacted with blogs or sent a few MySpace or Facebook messages, that we’ve had contact..when really not so much. And that can lead to isolation, which could lead to depression….if you let it.

  2. Michael,

    I might allow my job to cut me from human interaction at work. As a matter of fact I have at places where I have worked before because of a previous bad experience with a coworker, however it did not affect my life outside of work nor did it make me depressed.

    I totally disagree with the idea that online “fake” human interaction leads to “isolation.”

    This is not directed at you, but I am tired of people thinking that the internet has made people less social when in reality I think it is doing the complete opposite.

    I don’t think the invention of the telephone set our society into a downward spiral towards no human interaction. In recent years I think we have seen that we like talking to people a lot more than we like talking to automated prompts.

    While I do think that some people do use the online world as their hiding place because of whatever reason they might have to be scared or reluctant of actual human interaction, however I do not see the internet being there as a cause for it. We all have the choice and like you mentioned we need to be careful.

    Some MMO games can be highly addicting, but I do not think that they are the cause of depression, just a symptom. I think as humans we replace behaviors rather than stop them completely.

  3. I think with the whole weight/heart/depression issue that they were presenting while showing cubical dwellers, they were probably just showing sedentary people.

    When trying to get a visual for depression, without asking someone to be filmed in their home while hitting rock bottom, they took the next best thing, a constantly sedentary individual.

    To see people moving, running, exercising, out and about, ect ect, they “appear” to not be suffering from any sort of depression. The movement of that individual lends the mind to see it as excitement.

    And Michael, you have a great point. Being stuffed in a chair, sitting 2 feet from a monitor, can have an adverse effect. Even if you are being social by blogging, commenting, ect, there’s something to be said for getting out and literally hanging out with living, breathing individuals. Does a heart good.

    And Logtar, “I do not think that they are the cause of depression, just a symptom” you have a valid point as well. It might not be a cause, however, being a recluse behind a monitor probably doesn’t help the depression any.

    Either way, I think that programmers are delightful people. I know plenty of them. I’m married to one, actually. But, I also know that if you let them, they’ll sit there (because how/where else are you going to program??) for endless amounts of time doing what they love to do. You just have to remember to feed and water them daily. ;-)

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