Deprexiety Soup: Geek Anxiety and Depression

Last week, Wil Wheaton shared his struggle with anxiety.

Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess, has talked openly on her blog about her struggles with anxiety and depression.

Buzz Aldrin (first man on the moon – depression), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia – bipolar disorder), Margot Kidder (Lois Lane – depression), and Leonard Nimoy (do I even have to say? – brief alcoholism/depression during the Star Trek years)…these are just a few of the faces of geek culture who have struggled with mental illness.

So…are geeks just born to be anxious and depressed?

Science Says…Maybe, for Some of Us.

Sad geek

Geeks, especially creatives, may have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression.

According to Scientific American, creatives are 20 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, and 10 times more likely to suffer from depression.

Stanford University professor of psychiatry Terence Ketter says creative people and bipolar and depression sufferers share several traits, including sensitivity, high intuition, curiosity, and quickly changeable feelings.

But what causes this link between creatives and mental illness?

Possible Causes

It may be that those susceptible to bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety naturally gravitate toward the arts by nature of their sensitivity and manic drive.

But for many geeks, the cause may be more muddled. In my case, for example, depression and social anxiety were brought on by a stew made up of family history of depression, a rocky home life, and severe school bullying.

Again, our sensitive nature makes many geeks less able to cope with such upheavals, causing us to become more stressed, anxious, and depressed when faced with such problems.

Many of us also gravitate toward high-stress careers, such as technology or the arts — and stress is a major contributor to both anxiety and depression.

Let’s also not forget that working on a computer (at a probably stressful job) all day, then spending our down time in front of a movie or gaming console, is not exactly an ideal way of battling stress.

Geeks, Anxiety, and Depression: Fighting the Scourge

Disclaimer: If you suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, suspect you may be bipolar, or have suicidal thoughts, DO NOT TAKE ADVICE FROM THIS OR ANY OTHER WEBSITE. Get thee to a licensed medical professional, posthaste.

The good news, my fellow geeks, is that we don’t have to take this deprexiety soup with a heaping side of stress. There are things we can do to help ease our risk and symptoms of these diseases.

First, use those creative brains and find a form of exercise you enjoy, even if you have to make it up. May I suggest Gamercize (Warning: Automatic video – turn speakers down if you’re at work)? Or a geek-a-cycle?

Second, get out there and do things. Chronic stress can make you think you need to be alone and locked away in your house. But staying busy and participating in activities outside the home is a much better way of relieving and managing stress (unless you’re an introvert, which we’ll talk about next week).

Take up a hobby, learn something new…find something to geek out about that will also help you cut down on stress and keep you on an even keel.

Live long and prosper, my friends.

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