New here, depressed developer checking in

First of all I just wanted to say I really appreciate the existence of this site. I just found out about it recently but I can really relate to many of the threads I have read.

I would like to share a bit of my story and maybe vent a bit, and do my best to keep it brief.

I am a 30 year old software developer. I seem to recall developing depression / anxiety in college although I didn’t really know what it was or how to deal with it. A huge pain point for me was starting life with $70, 000 in student loans. My 20s were a rough ride financially and emotionally.

Fast forward to the present, I still have 40k in loans, married, one kid, another on the way. I have just recently started taking SSRIs which helped briefly but the effects wore off over time.

I feel like no matter how hard I try, depression catches me. I try to do all the right things, but in the end I am toiling my life away at a computer, and pissing my paycheck away to Sallie Mae. I am a slave.

I have a constant fear that I am not a good enough developer. Maybe i will finally pay off my debt one day and this career will have left me behind and I will have nothing.

I would love to travel the world, but its just not practical. I think I would love some career that does not bind me to a screen, but I have no clue what that would be. I feel my creativity and ability to even dream slowly dying. My life feels scripted. My life is going to pass by in a blink and I will have done nothing. Our bills are piling up and it feels like I was never meant to have anything.

I could go on. But I just wanted to share a bit of my struggle. Thanks.

Hi there Desmond,
I can relate to some of your feelings. I’m still a college student, I developed extreme depression and anxiety during the last year.

I think that the feeling of entrapment and helplessness may have contributed to your depression. Have you tried talking to your wife about this? Are you bored of software development in general or the specific work you are doing currently?

Let’s talk about it.

Ruben Cordeiro

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Hi Ruben,

Thanks for replying to me. I think it is great that you recognized the symptoms of depression and anxiety early on, it will help in dealing with them and I hope you are finding solutions that are working for you.

You are spot on that the feelings of entrapment contribute to my depression. Of course that is not the whole story, and sometimes I wonder if it is the depression that causes the negative feelings in the first place.

I have tried sharing these feelings with my wife over the years, but she has a hard time understanding. She is an extrovert and does not relate to my depression. Often if I am depressed she will want to know what caused it, as if I am just in a bad mood that day. Its much more overriding and prevalent than that.

She feels that we just need to be grateful for what we have and that will solve everything. But to me it just sounds like I should just give up and accept my lot in life. We were seeing a great counselor last year, but my insurance changed and he is no longer covered. It was another case of when something starts working, the floor seems to fall out.

In regard to career choice, I think that I enjoy the flexibility that software development allows. I can work from home and the pay is good. But I often feel like my life is not accomplishing anything. I could be seeing the world or helping others. We are so financially strapped and with a family now that any change in life feels impossible and a pipe dream. Again, i dont even know what that change would be.

I recognize that circumstantially my life is better than many others. But I have also seen other friends and colleagues be able to save money, build equity and invest, or drive around sports cars without that burden of debt. Not that I am envious of their possessions, I am envious of their freedom. I feel that time is the only form of currency we have and the value of life is in the quality of our experiences. Therein lies a great source of my unhappiness.

I apologize that this started turning into a novel quickly. Take care.

Hey there again,

I myself am still trying to deal with my situation. I have this feeling that my work is not really making anyone’s lives better. I am thinking about doing some voluntary work for a local organization.

Have you thought about maybe looking for local institutions that need people? You may take a saturday morning or evening for that effect. I find that it is very therapeutic to help others. Honestly, sometimes I feel that I am helping myself more :slight_smile: You should think about it.

Most people have a hard time understanding depression, I think that you have to experience it in order to fully understand it. My family does not understand it completely so your wife’s arguments are to be expected.

I also think that you need some time for yourself, have you ever considered taking some days off to travel alone and clear your head? I undestand that doing that when you have a family is more difficult, but it may help you.

You have the feeling that the debt and the responsibility you have with your family does not allow you to take any risks, a true choice. But what choices would be available if you had no strings attached? Some doors close when you have more responsibilities, but sometimes the feeling of entrapment is caused by this fantasy of freedom. I am not saying that it is your case desmond, rather something you should reflect upon.

It’s good talking to you.


This is a great idea and something that I have thought about. I used to do things like that when I was single, our life is so busy now it’s easy to not make time. Plus when my depression takes over it is hard enough to continue normal daily activities. I do really enjoy helping people when I have had the opportunity.

I definitely have considered that if I did not have the debt, it’s possible I still not would not be doing the things I want to do. However it’s so hard to look at all the money I have paid in interest over the years and what it could have been used for. Money does not solve all problems but it does provide options whereas having debt does not.

Any way this unfolds the bottom line is that by the time this is paid off I will be around 35 (if all goes well) and will feel like I am starting life all over again. We will have to build a proper emergency fund or save for a down payment on a house, all of which takes more time. All of which hinges upon me performing the same tasks at work that I have been doing for years to come.

And at what expense to my mental health? I feel like I have already paid quite a cost. I can only hope I am coherent enough when I am older to enjoy what small freedoms I have left.

Sorry for being so bleak. But then again guess I am in the right place , right? :slight_smile:

Hi Desmond,

I’m a developer that has suffered with depression most of my adult life. In the last 5 years though, I’ve managed to turn things around and now I have a great job and family life. One thing I realized, that really helped me, is the meds are not a silver bullet. They may bring you up to “normal” but to get past that you have to make changes to yourself and your habits and create the life you want to have. But it all starts with getting to “normal”. Once you do that you can start seeing tiny openings where you can improve, and then they start to snowball. Once you able to see through the fog you can start seeing solutions, then you can start implementing solutions, and your life does get better. So much so that as a family, I have a wife and 2 elementary school age kids, we have adopted 2 mantras:

  • Happiness is a choice, and to increase it we change our perspective
  • Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift

Here’s some observations I’ve made that may help you on your journey.

  • If you don’t think your meds are working speak to your doctor about it, I went through this was given something that was supposed to help, turned suicidal after a couple weeks, started a new drug and it allowed me to see through the fog of depression. The drug you are taking may not be the best drug for you, and different SSRI’s work better for different people.

  • Another thing I’ve done is begin exercising, I was told this a million times and never listened, but I can tell you even a 30 minute brisk walk helps. Again it’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a good part of a plan. There are lots of studies out there supporting this:

  • Change your diet. Another one that I always thought sounded nuts, I adopted a vegatarian / vegan diet in the last month and my mood has skyrocketed. I had to change my diet, I was 60 pounds overweight, my cholesterol had gone through the ceiling, and I have been given the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. But changing my diet not only is helping me trim the pounds, it’s changed my mood drastically. There are some really interesting studies coming out about the link between inflammation and depression: Here’s a link to an anti-inflammatory diet:

Here’s some things that have helped me over the last year:

Change your habits and adopt new ones. This really resonated with me when I was trying to figure out how I could get better. I used to have a habit of going to McD’s every morning for a breakfast sandwich.

This was was about changing my perspective. I never really bought into the positive psychology movement too much until I read this and his childrens book, Ripple’s Effect, The premise is simple, success doesn’t make you happy, being happy makes you successful.

Doing the exercises really helped me.

I’m sorry I rambled on so long, but good luck on your journey!!!


Thanks for such a helpful response, jimiray, and for the resources. I will definitely be checking them out. I agree completely that diet and exercise play a huge role. When my meds were working I had lost 30 lbs and was eating right. But as they wore off I lost my will to do many things that I knew would help me. I am now two weeks on a new SSRI (lexapro) and am seeing better results. I am now more motivated again, just hoping the effects will be longer lasting.

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How have you been desmond? Your story interested me and I wanted to see how you’ve come along