DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻

Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Posted on

Most Software Developers Are Depressed

It’s not uncommon to see people in tech talk about the new stuffs that’s out there, and how awesome a technology is.

But… are most engineers really happy? I mean, the “real happiness?”

This is not something that’s talked about a lot and I’d love to hear it from you, if you’ve found happiness, what made it work? And if you’re struggling to find happiness, what really makes you unhappy?

I’ve got a few of mine too but I want this to be a discussion.

Happiness is attainable and we all deserve to be happy

Let’s talk!

Top comments (52)

Collapse
 
jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

I think this highly depends on the work and environment. I am not changing my workplace although I could earn nearly double the salary if I'd try to land something in big-tech. This is because a few priceless reasons:

  • All work we do has a purpose and positive impact on society, this is so important, many underrate this factor
  • I have a high degree of freedom to influence our technological decisions only a tech-lead usually has
  • I have freedom to try out new concepts, do some POC work, try new frameworks or packages
  • I have very flexible working times, which is crucial with family+children
  • Most of my vacation can be applied on short notice as long as there is no immediate milestone coming up
  • Yes I have crunch times but I can compensate them with one or two days off afterwards without the need to take vacation
  • 100% remote work so I have much more free time than before where ~2 hrs a day were wasted by traveling

I think it is important to get to know what's important and what you want and then decide for a job environment where these values are matched.

Of course I am biased, since education/higher education is mostly free in my country and we have a strong social service system, which releases the pressure to work my a** off just for paying back my college degree credit or the recent medical bills.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Wow, I must say, I’m impressed by the amount of effort your workplace puts into their staffs mental health and freedom.

This alone can greatly increase the feeling of importance and happiness at work.

Collapse
 
jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

I have to admit, this is also partially because I work at a University but most of these benefits are due to the culture the head of our research group has established.

Collapse
 
kazimir profile image
Valentin Stahlmann

I totally agree with what Jan just said.
As part of management i am responsible for the working climate and i try to allow the same things.

The most important point here is freedom. Not everyone understands the positive impact freedom has on your work. And most people just realize when changing jobs and recognizing that not a lot of companies allow this.

But I disagree that it is a lot of effort that I need to put in.
There is nearly no effort here to create an enjoyable workplace for everyone.
Most of the time it is about trust. As long as i see that projects are finished in time and core work is done I am absolutely happy.
And if the colleagues are even going above and beyond I always realize how amazing my company and colleagues are.

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

There is nearly no effort here to create an enjoyable workplace for everyone.

Good point 💯

I have never been in a managerial position before so it seemed to me as being a lot of effort since the practice of creating a mentally healthy workplace is all too uncommon and seldom experienced by most people.

Collapse
 
rcls profile image
OssiDev

We recently held a workshop at our company's location to improve our workplace experience, and the following words came up when describing the current situation:

  • Freedom
  • Trust
  • Meaningful

Our work has an impact and we want it to. We also have freedom to work however we like without any managerial supervision as we are all experts in our field. These are key elements to a great workplace.

Collapse
 
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

I filly life with hobbies!

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

I should definitely try new things

Collapse
 
kazimir profile image
Valentin Stahlmann

Definitely!
I mean as a developer i always tend to try new frameworks, languages etc in my free time. But this is a bad habit in my opinion, as it will drain your life out and makes developing stuff a burden because out of a sudden you are spending 14h doing the same thing.

I always try new hobbies that might be computer related or not.
Sometimes i feel like others might think i am in a midlife crisis because i start learning stupid stuff :D

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

others might think i am in a midlife crisis because i start learning stupid stuff :D

👆That part got me laughing 😂

You’re right about things starting to burden on oneself when it’s all you do in a repetitive manner

Doing other things could really keep the spark up 🔥

Collapse
 
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Actually I would be willing to bet that my unhealthy work life and subsequent depression went away when I took on a new found appreciation of life without code at the forefront l, that and being told that if I don't eat better I will get type 2 diabetes, helped me shape up 🙄 but the hobbies, that's a diet for the mind.

What would you like try?

Collapse
 
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

I like model trains
Woodworking
Gardening 😁

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

I’d love to try:
Learning how to play the guitar 🎸
Snowboarding (when I travel abroad)
Swimming
Workouts and maybe basketball too 🏀

Thread Thread
 
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Tomorrow, go swimming for an hour, couldn't hurt? I hope you try something new, shake things up

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

I’m getting new kicks 👟 for jogging this weekend (because I never exercise) and I’ve also planned out a movie outing with 3 other devs against Friday.

Going for a good treat once a month is a commitment I wanna make

Also, as regards the swimming? Well… might take a short pause on that 😅.

But I’m definitely making effort, the hard part is keeping it consistent 😇

Thread Thread
 
adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Shoes! Ah you reminded me, I have to buy some new ones I have holes in my converse. I don't get out much either (it's warm inside 😂)

Good, keep up the social, I sadly can't go see my team tomorrow, COVID 19 🇬🇧 is making us all drop like flies and it's going around my house this week too, I tested negative today 🙏

Oh yeah for sure treat yourself, I broke my rules of my diet today, had a cream cake, a Cornish pasty, gotta stay sane even going the other way trying to be good

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Oh, Adam. You legit just put a smile on my face 😇.

This is the coolest message I’ve read today and yea, I’ve got a few rules I break myself e.g I almost never sleep early and I seldom eat well

I’m super happy you tested “Negative” too 😊

Collapse
 
tjuranek profile image
Thomas Juranek

This isn't a good take.

If finding happiness is your primary goal in life, I don't think you're ever going to find it, at least not in a way that is meaningful.

We're very fortunate to be in software development. It's a great career with the potential to be very fulfilling and very rewarding. It's unfortunate, but we tend to focus on the frustrating or "depressing" parts of the job. Annoying coworkers, terrible requirements, and out-of-date technology.

You'll never be satisfied with your job if you continue that way. Instead of focusing on the negatives, or some ever increasing milestone like title or salary - focus on your journey as a developer. Realizing you're continually progressing and doing your best to make that happen will bring you much more fulfillment than anything you manage to achieve.

And remember there is a lot more to life than just software and your job! Form relationships with others, make an impact in whatever communities you're a part of, do what's meaningful. :)

"Almost all the positive emotion that any of you are likely to experience in your life will not be a consequence of attaining things, it will be a consequence of seeing that things are working as you proceed towards a goal you value." - Jordan Peterson

Collapse
 
190245 profile image
Dave

If finding happiness is your primary goal in life, I don't think you're ever going to find it, at least not in a way that is meaningful.

I was going to post a very similar sentiment, but I would go a little further. If someone depends on their work to grant happiness, they have probably lived in a corporate culture far too long.

One example of happiness from me: my son has taken to "getting in my way" (even when he's really not) and simultaneously jokes that I'm in his way.

It's the small moments in life, regardless of how they might contribute to a bigger goal.

Collapse
 
hawicaesar profile image
HawiCaesar

I would also add anxiety to this.

There is a lot expected from you during interviews
There is a lot expected from you to keep up with your tech stack

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

I couldn’t agree more, the tech space is growing fast and the expectations are sky high

Collapse
 
polterguy profile image
Thomas Hansen

Most software developers are maintaining monster legacy code bases, where trying to add even a small feature results in 100+ new bugs in unrelated places, making it "impossible" to move the code forward in any ways, resulting in that they end up as "baby sitters" for past projects ...

Of course, this isn't true for everyone, but it's true for far too many ...

If you don't become depressed in such an environment there is something wrong with you ...

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Oh, Thomas 😂😂
You just had to make my day with this comment 😅.

I can relate to this, I once worked on a project with super legacy and spaghetti code.

If I’d known the address of the developers that wrote them? I’d have paid them a visit and challenged them to a “Boxing fight” 🥊 for making my life miserable 😖.

It takes days to refactor one thing and even more to allow implementation for others, it’s literally a land mine 💣 waiting to take my soul!

Good news is I survived 😂

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen • Edited on

A common causative of depression amongst newbies especially , that I’ve come to realize is “the feeling of not knowing enough” and I had my fair share of this round

Collapse
 
angellicaaraujo profile image
Angéllica Araujo

My two cents: “the feeling of not knowing enough” hunts me even after 15 years of experience with everything changing haha

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

That would make both of us (tho I don’t have up to 15years)
Let me get my helmet

Collapse
 
geofspot profile image
Geof

Great topic..And almost a fact. However, I believe there are important variables that counts here like:
Is your passion huge enough?
What is your purpose, are you a programmer/developer just cus you have bills to pay, or it's a job you love doing?
Your passion and purpose can actually affect both your job and life.

Another important thing here is knowing that you must live in the moment, live that life, wear those nice stuffs you love, get at least 7 hours of sleep, do whatever makes you happy. You are going to get lonely at times as a programmer but you should try and socialise at least for a few hours everyday.
If you happen to marry another programmer😁,(and you both really love each other) perhaps things could get spicy too.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Good points.

live that life ( 💯 ) cannot be overemphasized!

I would say however, I’m my own opinion… I think depression is likely to be more intense when you’re very passionate.

People that don’t give a damn about something can’t get depressed from it

Nevertheless, your last point about marrying another programmer 🥰, oh my…

Collapse
 
geofspot profile image
Geof

Nice one..On your view about passion, I guess you re somewhat right, but for me I also think it's passion that makes it more like fun than a job for me 😁

It's actually passion that made me switch to tech from oil and gas.
And if I can get the "last point" that would be a nail on the coffin🤩

Thread Thread
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

True 😅

Passion makes it fun for me too 💯

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

There’s more to life than code and deadlines

That part hit me like a tornado. That statement runs deeper than meets the eye

return 🙏

Collapse
 
angellicaaraujo profile image
Angéllica Araujo

if you’ve found happiness, what made it work?
"Sometimes" is my answer for that just because happineess is something you feel and do not get and keep it. Here is my point of view, happiness is something that you might avoid looking for outside, for example, feeling happy cause of a job change or a new relationship. As a senior developer, I realize that most of being happy every day is on me. It is about the way I deal with technical and personal challenges at the workplace. About the way I keep my delivery agenda organized and trustable, keeping myself updated, avoid being surrounded by toxic people both at work and in personal life, taking care of mental health consulting doctors... and many other small details

And if you’re struggling to find happiness, what really makes you unhappy?
Again, yes. I sometimes struggle to feel happy but I consider myself extremely grateful for what I have accomplished until today.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Well said, Angèllica.
Especially the part where you said

but I consider myself extremely grateful for what I have accomplished until today

It would appear from all the contributions I have gotten on this post that, happiness is something the requires a conscious effort. And that being grateful for what one has and living without the pressures of what one doesn’t can really improve our mental health.

Thanks for contributing 🙏

Collapse
 
devfranpr profile image
DevFranPR

The overall about working as a developer is great, but some people are stuck in their career/work because external factors and this added to the fact that sometimes this work put you on a lot of preassure make a lot of people unhappy of working in the industry.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen • Edited on

this work put you on a lot of pressure

Quite a number of people said this same thing, the pressure and expectations in this line of work is high

Collapse
 
devfranpr profile image
DevFranPR

Mainly because its hard, subjective and ambiguous to measure the work to employers. Even harder if they don't understand the development process and the time it takes to make a solution to a problem. You can feel like you're going to be fired at any moment, even if you know that isn't your fault. The icing in the cake is that the main income of small/medium business are those people. If you are a junior or you don't work in a well managed project the pressure is enourmous and the inability to disconnect from it grim.

Collapse
 
abbeyperini profile image
Abbey Perini

I think the question really is what you consider real happiness. There's this persistent myth throughout human existence that happy people exist in a state of perpetual joy, and the reality is even happy people have bad days. Plus, even joy would get boring after a while. In yoga philosophy, there is a guideline called santosha, a practice of cultivating contentment throughout your daily life. Note it's not joy or happiness per say, but rather a releasing of desires that disconnects being content from external happenings. It's more like bringing your baseline to neutral instead of negative and being nonreactive to external inputs. Thus, the idea is to practice contentment instead of constantly seeking out external means of providing yourself joy or languishing in your negative self-talk.

There seems to be another myth specifically tied to tech that all developer jobs have to be misery. Partially because of the gaming industry and also because there are many companies out there who would rather burn through developers and wonder why they have high turnover than support them. Jan's company is a great example of the kinds of trade offs developers need to consider when interviewing. I won't even apply to jobs that have "fast-paced" and the like in their job description. You've got to learn what you consider most important in your job and work life balance to find a job that doesn't make you miserable.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Deep stuff. Well said.

I agree with the idea of happiness being a “state of mind”.

Collapse
 
brianburton profile image
Brian Burton

The one bit of advice that has stuck with me is to prioritize your mental health by maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

  • No, I won't work 12-14 hours a day for weeks/months.

  • No, I won't come in every weekend.

  • No, I won't work when I'm sick or I need to take care of a family member.

If your depression is caused by your job, change! It's important to do what you love to do. But if it's caused by something deeper, seek help and take care of yourself.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

Valid points! 💯
Unfortunately, so many people are stuck in jobs they hate just to pay bills 💰

Collapse
 
delia profile image
Delia Ayoko

This is a pertinent topic. Most developers are NOT happy abouy their lives. But they have no option; technology is used everywhere in the world and for them to keep surviving in one way or the other, they must continue. I'm not really generalizing, this is from another developer's point of view.

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

True, although I don’t particularly agree with the “not having a choice” part. Everyone has a choice! However, the way the tech ecosystem is can somewhat encourage its proneness to depression and as such extra efforts needs to be put in place to make it work (just my opinion)

Collapse
 
nuclearzzet profile image
Nik

Well I am unhappy due to a simple problem, my parents don't support what I am doing. Neither they support me doing programming nor they allow me to.
They are like in my country no one can't be successful without education. They are like learning programming is useless. Use that time for studies and get a high paying job. Dreams can't be made possible in my country

Collapse
 
emmaccen profile image
Lucius Emmanuel Emmaccen

This is a tough situation and I can say I understand you to some extent.

I might not be in the best place to advise on this because I don’t know how you really feel but here’s what I would do:

If they want you to “study/go-to-school” that’s totally fine, the beauty of this profession is that you can study and still learn software engineering or code etc

Education is great to have and has no disadvantages

Moreover

it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it

So I’d say, please be happy, don’t let that get you down.
You can totally code/do tech in your free time

Chances are, when you start making bags 💰 in tech, they’ll change their perception about the idea 💡

Collapse
 
ethand91 profile image
Ethan

This sums me up pretty much.
I'm happier when my work-life is balanced, and exercise is important for mental health IMO.

return -1;

12 APIs That You Will Love

Free and easy to use APIs for your next project, learning a new technology, or building a new feature.