It may surprise individuals outside of the tech industry that a large and growing percentage of employees feel depressed. However, upon closer examination, the factors giving rise to depression bring everything into sharp focus. The Mayo Clinic describes depression as ‘a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest… It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems… Sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.‘
The tech sector is a pressure cooker for employees. The tech world is fiercely competitive, and it demands nothing short of excellence from stakeholders. Employees are often overworked and expected to perform at superhuman levels to achieve these high standards. Burnout, anxiety, insomnia, stress, and poor sleeping habits contribute to depression.
The Tech Republic ran an op-ed by Macy Bayern detailing the top 10 tech companies where depression runs rampant with employees (circa 2018) with the following statistics collected with 100+ employees per company reporting:
- Amazon – 43% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Microsoft – 42% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Intel – 39% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- LinkedIn – 39% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Facebook – 37% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Uber – 36% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Oracle – 35% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Cisco – 35% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Google – 33% of employees reported feeling stressed out
- Apple – 31% of employees reported feeling stressed out
Various types of depression exist – it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ diagnosis. Depressive disorders form part of a family of interrelated mental health illnesses. These include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, persistent depressive disorder, major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, treatment resistant depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, et al. Fortunately, tech industry employees can take corrective steps to arrest depression in its tracks.
Treatment options include a cocktail of remedies such as medication + therapy. Other options for treating depressive disorders include Deep TMS™ (a noninvasive FDA-cleared treatment solution for depression) using a patented H-Coil helmet and electromagnetic waves to regulate neural activity within the brain. By ‘readjusting’ neural activity, Deep TMS™can alleviate symptoms of depression, and health and wellness can improve.
Why is the Tech Space Proving to Be So Stressful for Employees?
According to Blind, 2018, and later studies, most employees who report feeling depressed in the tech arena largely attributed this to burnout, high stress, poor sleeping habits, and overworking. Yet industry aficionados routinely admit that high pressure goes with the territory in the tech arena. Everyone, including founders, employees, and interns, recognizes that this demanding work space can adversely affect mental health and wellness.
The relentless pressures to succeed place undue stresses on the workforce. The tech sector may not be the most employee-friendly environment for those ill-equipped to deal with stress. Many tech workers dedicate their lives to their jobs. Success at work means success socially, and it validates a person’s sense of self. A UCSF study uncovered alarmingly high rates of mental illness among entrepreneurs, many of whom are in Silicon Valley-type environments.
Unfortunately, the tech industry has failure rates that make the restaurant industry look like a cakewalk. Some 90%+ of tech start-ups ultimately fail. Extreme volatility characterizes the industry, and employees constantly have to reassess their skills, attributes, qualities, and abilities in order to get ahead. It’s a process of continual reinvention. Keeping pace with technology, setting trends, and breaking conventions are expected. It’s all about bringing the bright ideas of young people to the fore, reshaping the world, and driving the narrative.
Developmental Challenges Meet Work Pressures
Research indicates that brain development does not reach full maturity until an individual reaches the age of 25. The prefrontal cortex is still maturing until that point, making it difficult for planning and risk management activities. It’s all about improving efficiency and evaluating choices in terms of making the right decisions. However, it is during this pivotal time in life that depression and other mental health illnesses are likely to hit. The reverse problem is true for people in their 30s and 40s – they may be mentally mature and capable of strategic decision-making processes, but they face ageism challenges and stresses.
The Atlantic reported on the massive pressures that tech companies face daily. With so much money changing hands and expectations running high, the pressure is always on. Investors’ fears need to be allayed, CEO expectations need to be met, and employees must be creative, innovative, and willing to think outside of the box to solve complex challenges. Company founders are young people themselves, yet they are expected to keep the proverbial ship on course by meeting multiple needs, keeping morale high, and ensuring the enterprise’s success!