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Programming and depression research

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Hello fellow game devs! I am currently conducting a research project for my psych class. I am in need of volunteers to help with my research.

All you need to do is to take this short depression screening and answer the question of how many hours you have generally spent programming in an average week over the last 6 months or so.

The screening is self scored, and is called Beck's Depression Inventory.

Beck's Depression Inventory

This depression inventory can be self-scored. The scoring scale is at the end of the questionnaire.

	0 I do not feel sad.
	1 I feel sad 
	2 I am sad all the time and I can't snap out of it. 
	3 I am so sad and unhappy that I can't stand it.
	0 I am not particularly discouraged about the future. 
	1 I feel discouraged about the future. 
	2 I feel I have nothing to look forward to. 
	3 I feel the future is hopeless and that things cannot improve.
	0 I do not feel like a failure. 
	1 I feel I have failed more than the average person. 
	2 As I look back on my life, all I can see is a lot of failures. 
	3 I feel I am a complete failure as a person.
	0 I get as much satisfaction out of things as I used to. 
	1 I don't enjoy things the way I used to. 
	2 I don't get real satisfaction out of anything anymore. 
	3 I am dissatisfied or bored with everything.
	0 I don't feel particularly guilty 
	1 I feel guilty a good part of the time. 
	2 I feel quite guilty most of the time. 
	3 I feel guilty all of the time.
	0 I don't feel I am being punished. 
	1 I feel I may be punished. 
	2 I expect to be punished. 
	3 I feel I am being punished.
	0 I don't feel disappointed in myself. 
	1 I am disappointed in myself. 
	2 I am disgusted with myself. 
	3 I hate myself.
	0 I don't feel I am any worse than anybody else. 
	1 I am critical of myself for my weaknesses or mistakes. 
	2 I blame myself all the time for my faults. 
	3 I blame myself for everything bad that happens.
	0 I don't have any thoughts of killing myself. 
	1 I have thoughts of killing myself, but I would not carry them out. 
	2 I would like to kill myself. 
	3 I would kill myself if I had the chance.
	0 I don't cry any more than usual. 
	1 I cry more now than I used to. 
	2 I cry all the time now. 
	3 I used to be able to cry, but now I can't cry even though I want to.
	0 I am no more irritated by things than I ever was. 
	1 I am slightly more irritated now than usual. 
	2 I am quite annoyed or irritated a good deal of the time. 
	3 I feel irritated all the time.
	0 I have not lost interest in other people. 
	1 I am less interested in other people than I used to be. 
	2 I have lost most of my interest in other people. 
	3 I have lost all of my interest in other people.
	0 I make decisions about as well as I ever could. 
	1 I put off making decisions more than I used to. 
	2 I have greater difficulty in making decisions more than I used to. 
	3 I can't make decisions at all anymore.
	0 I don't feel that I look any worse than I used to. 
	1 I am worried that I am looking old or unattractive. 
	2 I feel there are permanent changes in my appearance that make me look unattractive 
	3 I believe that I look ugly.
	0 I can work about as well as before. 
	1 It takes an extra effort to get started at doing something. 
	2 I have to push myself very hard to do anything. 
	3 I can't do any work at all.
	0 I can sleep as well as usual. 
	1 I don't sleep as well as I used to. 
	2 I wake up 1-2 hours earlier than usual and find it hard to get back to sleep. 
	3 I wake up several hours earlier than I used to and cannot get back to sleep.
	0 I don't get more tired than usual. 
	1 I get tired more easily than I used to. 
	2 I get tired from doing almost anything. 
	3 I am too tired to do anything.
	0 My appetite is no worse than usual. 
	1 My appetite is not as good as it used to be. 
	2 My appetite is much worse now. 
	3 I have no appetite at all anymore.
	0 I haven't lost much weight, if any, lately. 
	1 I have lost more than five pounds. 
	2 I have lost more than ten pounds. 
	3 I have lost more than fifteen pounds.
	0 I am no more worried about my health than usual. 
	1 I am worried about physical problems like aches, pains, upset stomach, or constipation. 
	2 I am very worried about physical problems and it's hard to think of much else. 
	3 I am so worried about my physical problems that I cannot think of anything else.
	0 I have not noticed any recent change in my interest in sex. 
	1 I am less interested in sex than I used to be. 
	2 I have almost no interest in sex. 
	3 I have lost interest in sex completely.

Now that you have completed the questionnaire, add up the score for each of the twenty-one questions by counting the number to the right of each question you marked. The highest possible total for the whole test would be sixty-three. This would mean you circled number three on all twenty-one questions. Since the lowest possible score for each question is zero, the lowest possible score for the test would be zero. This would mean you circles zero on each question. You can evaluate your depression according to the Table below.

Total Score____________________Levels of Depression

1-10____________________These ups and downs are considered normal 
11-16___________________ Mild mood disturbance 
17-20___________________Borderline clinical depression 
21-30___________________Moderate depression 
31-40___________________Severe depression 
over 40__________________Extreme depression



If you are uncomfortable sharing the results publicly, please PM me your results, and if not, please post them here so I can record them.

My scores :
BDI - 18
Average hrs spent programming per week over last 6 months - 10

I most definitely appreciate you guys taking the time to help me out. ;)

There are no right or wrong answers, please be as honest as possible. With me, and yourself. If you feel you may have depression, I encourage you to explore treatment options with your doctor and your psychiatrist. I've never been diagnosed explicitly with depression, but I know I have trouble being happy, and I am currently on Buproprion to help with it. Depression is entirely treatable. Don't suffer for no reason. Seek treatment if you need it.


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My answer is 0 for everything except:

4 => 1

11 => 1

13 =>1

14 => 2 (this is an ambiguous question, as 1 isn't lower than 2, i'm young so feeling old is simply unfit, also the question doesn't seem to relate to self esteem as i think it is intended, my answer is closer to "there are permanent negative changes to my appearance, but i don't care at all")

15 => 1

19 => 3 (i'm surprised by this one, is this relating to anorexia? i have lost weight but i needed to, i think the question should be rephrased as "if you were of a normal weight 6 month ago, did you lose weight since?". Also depression can work both ways, you can gain weight as part of depression)

20 => 1


This would put me at 10, however if i had to self rate / interpret the questions i'd count 19 & 14 as 0 putting me at 6

I program 20 to 60 hours a week or so.

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BDI - 19
Average hrs spent programming - 25-30.

also, can you actually correlate your results considering many people here are programmers by trade, meaning generally 30-40 hrs a week by default. Edited by slicer4ever

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As I work as a coder I'm pretty much doing code related things for 30h+ a week anyway, regardless of mental state.

The questions are also not very useful due to the bipolar nature of what my brain does; i.e. today I'd be scoring mostly zeros and ones... a week from now it could be 3s and 4s. Heck I could crash my chemical levels 5 minutes from now and my answers would change, or I could cheat and use some techniques I've learnt to boost myself back up again before I go to dark.

Some of the questions are just odd, for example number 8 would always be a '1' at least, not because of any sort of depression but because I hold myself to a high standard so that I can continue to improve. (I've recently got back to being able to do 10km distances at the gym; I can do them in less than an hour. Some would call it good, I refuse to settle.)

Or 14, to do with attractiveness. My own views on this are not a depression thing either, they are as a result of being picked on for around 5 years due to my appearance which has caused certain view points to be enshrined to be 'true' and it takes effort for me to over come them. This is true if I'm in an 'up' mood or a 'down' mood.

Even 21 varies completely apart from any depression state I might be in.

Of course I've recently started to wonder if, among the various other things I've noticed which are 'off' about me, I might be a sociopath, so, ya know, that might be throwing things off *chuckles*

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@ranakor - scores on individual questions are not necessary to report, but thank you for helping my researc

also, can you actually correlate your results considering many people here are programmers by trade, meaning generally 30-40 hrs a week by default.


The idea is to gather as much data from programmers and non-programmers as possible, and then to see if there are any correlations that would warrant further research. This is not the only forum I am seeking data from. Very good point though.


@aurioch - thanks!


@phantom - I understand the test may not be perfect, but hopefully it does serve as some indicator of depression. Many of the questions relate directly to symptoms of depression.

Edited by Edgar Reynaldo

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While I still feel this is flawed simply because someone who isn't constantly depressed isn't going to score "correctly" for the 'lulz'..

As I said, 30h+ a week due to work.

BDI ranges between;
5 - good days
31 - bad days

31 is a conservative estimate based on remembering what my 'down' days feel like.

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BDI: 3

Average hours: 12


I think my BDI score would be about the same if you had asked me at any time between now and a decade ago. Normally my average hours are higher, about 20-30 hours.

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I'm a classic bipolar with a 6-week cycle. Life is a roller-coaster even on medications.

BDI over the past six months, Best: 0, Worst, 58. Right this second, 4.

Average time programming depends on my bipolar state and the state of the project and also my volunteer work, but probably close to 40-45 per week. (Plus many hours of meetings and design reviews that are not programming.)

Edited by frob

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BDI of 32 at the moment, but it sounds as if my results would fluctuate widely depending on mood, weather, time of day, .. it's the weekend now so it's not too bad. I have moderate avoidant personality disorder, for what it's worth, so I'm not too surprised. I suppose that if you asked me over a period of time, the score would vary between, say, 15 and 40, as a ballpark estimate.


Average hours spent programming per week over the last 6 months, I'm not exactly sure but probably 20 or so. It was pretty high between January and March but my studies are taking up a lot of time that I would otherwise use to work on hobby programming projects. I am not employed, so my programming solely consists of university assignments/labs (~ 5-8 hours a week) and hobbyist (~ 10-15 hours a week). But again, it fluctuates wildly. Sometimes I can do absolutely nothing for an entire week and then spend the weekend restlessly coding, if I have a cool idea or something like that.

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Score: 2
I answered 0 to everything except question 11, which I answered '2' to.

Alot of the questions are relative, and I feel I've gotten better in alot of areas, not worse - so even while I'm nowhere near perfect, the test in asking if I feel worse than I used to  is asking the wrong questions. If the questions were phrased differently, I'd probably score alot worse.
Averaging programming time a week >15.

What a curiously worded quiz, though. The first dozen questions or so are all phrased in the negative, and even if you answer "No", no option is available for absolutes. "I am sad." vs "I do not feel sad" with the implication that even if I don't feel it, I am probably sad anyway? huh.png

The test seems to say, "Either you are depressed and suicidal and you know it, or you are depressed and suicidal and you don't know it.". I'll take option 'C': maybe the test creator was depressed and suicidal, and anyone taking the test is biased to answer depressingly, because the test is phrased in such a way as to encourage and motivate the instincts in humans to try to please others - in this case, by answering what the test taker thinks the test giver is wanting/expecting them to answer.

No wonder everyone and their dog is on anti-depressants these days. rolleyes.gif

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Currently BDI - 7

Average Hours: around  20 - 30


It will be interesting to see what there results would be if this is recorded every 2/3 months. 

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Score: 16

Weekly hours over last 6 months: likely <20.


You know what, if you asked me when I was working 10+ hours/day I'm rather sure I would have scored better. I feel very relieved! Considering what I've been through so far I find that quite an accomplishment. FYI, my doctor knows. I rarely apply his advices.

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I also think it's flawed. It doesn't differentiate between people who blame themselves for everything or blame the world and anybody else for everything. I'm not a psychologist, but it may be an important difference.

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Score: 0

Hours: ~50



  1. The test is specifically geared towards finding the result that a person is depressed.  That is, for example, on #6 I can only go so far as to say that I think I am not being punished, when in reality my answer should be more like “-4: I think I am being overly rewarded”.  The test limits the range of responses like a person limits his or her perception when specifically seeking a result.  If you look for signs that a person is depressed, invariably you will find them.  It only matters if you don’t ignore everything else.
  2. Many (if not all) of these questions are not related to programming.  You may as well ask how many hours per week we play piano (the response here would be quite low but if you targeted musical sites with the same questions you would get the same response overall, apparently meaning that piano players are depressed).  For #19 (losing weight), for example, there could be any number of factors unrelated to programming.  Being on a diet is a perfectly healthy thing, so what if I just happened to lose 15 pounds as a means of staying healthy?  And #20 (worried about health more than usual)?  Isn’t it normal to worry about your health more as you age?  I’m not yet, but I am sure I will be more and more worried later in life.  If age is not a factor in this, #20 makes no sense.  Someone who worries about his or her health more than in the past is unrelated to depression.  Someone who is losing weight might be on the healthy track back to success.  Being tired more than usual is a natural sign of aging.  Losing appetite and sex drive is a possible sign of physical sickness such as a flu or cold.  Thinking you look worse than you used to is a natural sign of aging (although in my case I was 45 kilograms all my life until recently having been able to push it up to ~69 through tons of hard work, and I look better as a non-skeleton, despite not looking as young).
    1. There is just no context for too many of the questions.  10 (crying more than usual): I cried a few days ago, meaning that I cry more than I usually do.  Why?  Because a coworker just died.  You’ve undoubtedly seen her work as she has done art for multiple Final Fantasy games and more.  She was extremely talented and just a cool person.  She even kept a real sword at her desk and she was a gamer.  A moment of silence for ???? (Mari Yamada)…
      I still marked a 0 though.  Why?  Because I know anything else I marked would be taken out of context.  I am mourning a coworker as part of a healthy lifestyle.  I am not going to put a 1 there and let it say that I am 1 point closer to depression when it has no context at all and is completely untrue.

I don’t think the test has much merit, but good luck with it.



L. Spiro

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BDI: 29
Average hours: 40


(TL;DR at the bottom)


Obviously, many people above think that this test is flawed for many reasons, all valid. I think it is incredibly flawed, as well, and unbalanced in the eyes of the creator of the test; there are too many indicators of depression that are ignored by the questions, especially where being healthy is in the middle of the scale, and the test only measures toward one extreme, not counting the other.


1 is flawed in my opinion. The 2nd degree of sadness says "all of the time"; if there is a moment that I have a smile, I'm disqualified by definition. Additionally, "snapping out of it" isn't an option; my depression is of the notion that my dark world-view is an undeniable fact. Seeing anything else but these ideas would be delusional. "Snapping out of it" is not on my goal list, and I don't acknowledge the idea.


Regarding 2, once again, there is an absolute maximum before the highest degree. For the 2nd degree of hopelessness, it says "I feel I have nothing to look forward to". I have this project that I want to finish; that's something to look forward to. However, I don't look forward to graduating, I don't look forward to working long hours in a dead-end job to pay for a life style that not only do I not want, but I must give up my ability to enjoy it to support it. I don't want to interact with others around me, and I am not looking forward to my inevitable decline from my prime into irrelevancy, and ultimate failure to meet my goals. So, no. I don't have "nothing" to look forward to, but it is a heck of a lot more than simply discouraged. I feel like I'm only moving forward in life to finish this project, and because suicide is dishonorable. This question failed to identify my problem as anything more than a kid undecided about what career he wants to choose.


3 is broken, too. I have a complex where constantly try to over-achieve, and put everyone else below me. As a result, I am harsh and overly critical toward myself. The first degree of feeling like a failure uses the notion of average to gauge how I feel. Since I try my hardest to make sure the average person can only look up at me, I see people that do better than me as exemplary and on a level unattainable. Thus, I am incapable of feeling like I fail more than the average person in most cases. I do, however, feel that I fail an incredible amount of the time, so the choices are on a non-linear scale to me.


6 has me wondering. Do they make the distinction between feeling like you're being punished for all that you did wrong, and feeling that you don't know what you did to deserve some deity's disfavor? I fall under the former.

I feel that 7 has a huge gap between 1 and 2,  which would lead to being unable to choose between them. Few things disgust me. However, disappointment is putting it lightly.


Does 8 distinguish between real faults, or imagined ones?

9 is misleading. After I spend the usual hour convincing myself to get out of bed, I contemplate shooting myself in the face. It's gotten so casual that I joke about why I don't, like the weapons I have are too small of a caliber, and dying by a sissy weapon is a disgrace. However, I would not kill myself, because I have work to do. That's it. I have some things that I need to do before I die, and they're pending. If someone could promise me that they'd devote their lives to completing my tasks, I'd be one step closer. Past that, is the question of honor. My name would be meaning less if I tarnished it. If they invented a method of death that wouldn't carry the penalty of being dishonored, I'd be another step closer, like trying to be a hero in something obviously suicidal. I would like to kill myself at times, and I wish I didn't have the shackles that keep me here. At times, it feels like being trapped in a pool of sharks with no ladder.

However, I will not carry them out, and never will in the foreseeable future. I don't think that this last sentiment alone should put me at the lighter end of the spectrum.

10 is kind of skewed due to being male in my culture. Here, the less you cry, the more powerful you seem. I don't cry for anything, including grievous bodily harm, other than sometimes when talking about my past, or when having interactions with others that would call for a tear. To me, being unable to cry is a compliment, though the amount of times that I wish I had a substitute for it are staggering. How should I rate myself?


11 uses the idea of an average as well; I've always been irritable, and it decreases my standard of life. So, I'm both no more irritated than I ever was, but I'm also irritated all the time. What should I choose?


14 has a slight problem: this isn't entirely an opinion question. There _are_ permanent changes in my body that make me look unattractive. I have various scars all over and a couple minor disfigurations that do not align with my culture's concept of being attractive. Perhaps the question should be reworded to include what the audience perceives the cause of the changes to be? There is no debating the fact that there are things that weren't originally there, and will always be there, so this question is not accurate.


21 is also not a viable question as-is. I don't want to be too expressive here, because that isn't fitting for polite conversation, but they don't make the distinction between having interest in fictional scenarios, and having interest in your partners. It's possible for one to be missing and be symptomatic, while the other remains, either due to habit, or compulsion.


TL;DR: So, I feel like my score should be much, much higher, but strictly adhering to the test provides misleading results.

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I won't give you an essay like everyone else (though you should read them; some of them are valid criticisms rather than self defense), but I will say that you can't just limit the group taking the survey to "only programmers please," and then say the results apply to programmers. As has been pointed out, none of these have anything to do with programming. For example, a lot of the questions don't account for the fact that some of the participants are 20 - 25, i.e. people going through quarter life crises where they realize that they still don't know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but they want to do something. These people are generally pretty hard on themselves. How would they answer #2? They're probably discouraged about the future at the very least. And #7? Does "I'm disgusted with myself," mean "I'm depressed," or does it mean "I expect more from myself, and I want to change"? What about #8? Wouldn't it be reasonable to blame yourself for your faults? Or at least accept that you're responsible for them anyway, once you reach adulthood?

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score: 3           2 on #16 and I threw in 0.25 on a few others because the 0 response was a bit too absolute.


prog: 55-65     The job and the hobby. I will cut myself off at ~65, more is self-destructive.


they don't make the distinction between having interest in fictional scenarios, and having interest in your partners.


Laughing. You've been married, then.


for the fact that some of the participants are 20 - 25, i.e. people going through quarter life crises where they realize that they still don't know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but they want to do something


Yeah, really tough on some people.

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for the fact that some of the participants are 20 - 25, i.e. people going through quarter life crises where they realize that they still don't know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but they want to do something


Yeah, really tough on some people.


Ah, boy. Here we go.

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I have answered similar questions to these a couple of times during the last 10 years and I arrive at roughly the same answer every time. I have not taken any medication or seeked help in any way, I have only received a diagnoses from a doctor. I am not bi polar, do not have schizophrenia or suffer from any other mental illness as far as I am aware. I just feel like this all the time. I am very concerned that I am going to begin going completely off the rails in the future.


I answered the questions literally. For example: I do not want to kill myself, but I enjoy the thought of not being alive.


60 hours a week coding. It's my job and hobby, and just about the only subject I think about.


I am surprised so many people here score so low on these tests, I assumed everyone felt at least somewhat like me.

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I appreciate all your criticisms, that will help me in my evaluation of the testing methods validity! :D


As to concerns I am only applying the test to programmers thats not true, at least not in intent, I did ask these questions on DeviantArt too, but only got one response, and she was a programmer!


So yeah, I know there are problems, this is my first psych experiment ever, so a little slack might be nice.

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Score: 4.
Hours: ~40/wk.

Given that the questions are written such that I am my own standard to compare against, I think it would be hard to result in a high number without external aggravating circumstances.

Programmers are analysts by nature so the abundance of comments regarding the quality of each question should actually be expected. I might expect posing the same set of questions to doctors would result in similar criticisms. Which could maybe be an interesting thing to investigate, comparing levels of feedback and responses from different professions not for a study in depression but a study of personalities.


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