Mental Health

What Does Depression Feel Like?

I hate my depression. It makes me feel like a failure.

It keeps me from enjoying a life that I love and am so grateful for.

I’ve been battling depression off and on for several years. Sometimes I can get to a great place and do well without meds or a simple maintenance dose. Other times I’ve been in the throes of severe treatment-resistant depression where things seem to keep spiraling downward.

Sharing stories of depression is important to help spread awareness and let sufferers know they’re not alone. Here’s a bit of what I’ve experienced with depression.

Tips are based on personal experience and should not be considered medical advice. Full disclaimer.

What Depression Feels Like

I imagine depression must feel a little different for each person who is unlucky enough to experience it.

For me, it usually takes a while before I realize things have gotten bad.

I’ll notice there are more down days than OK ones. “Down” is the best I can describe it. It’s like my cat died, but I never had a cat.

Little things start to feel so incredibly hard. I might snap at someone—that’s not usually like me.

My smile and sense of humor go missing. I don’t chuckle at my husband’s dumb jokes or silly little things that happen throughout the day. They just fall flat in the emptiness.

It’s like I’m walking around wearing a weighted blanket. I just want to sleep.

In my bed, under the covers, is my one safe place.

Exhausted mom asleep in bed

I get so tired of the negative thoughts—the constant mental anguish.

Everything feels tiring.

It feels as if my joy has been sucked away and left a painful emptiness. I don’t have the energy to try to fix it, and it feels impossible to escape.

There is a swirl of worries constantly in my head.

I try to do small things that I know usually give me enjoyment, like snuggling my little one, but any pleasure is fleeting. These things barely keep me going.

Even things I would usually enjoy feel like a chore. I don’t want to write (one of my usual outlets). I don’t want to go for a walk.

I just can’t be bothered.

Browsing for something on Netflix feels like a Herculean task, knowing I wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of what I found anyway.

The tears come too easily. They make me embarrassed, but I can’t hold them back or I feel I’ll explode.

My head hurts after the crying. It makes me even more exhausted.

The people who notice take pity on me. They offer small suggestions of things I might do. It just makes me angry. They don’t understand.

“What’s wrong?” they ask. If only I knew…

I don’t know how to explain it to those around me. It’s not like I’m choosing to be depressed.

I just feel terrible all over—sometimes for no reason at all or sometimes for too many reasons to count.

It’s like a flu of the mind.

The bad thoughts creep in and make me feel weak. It takes everything I have to fight them.

I know I’m not being a good wife and mother, and that makes me feel worse. If only I had the words to explain.

I don’t wish depression on anyone.

Read What I Learned From My Teen’s Struggles With Depression

What can you do about depression?

I’m so thankful to have access to mental healthcare where I’ve gotten help for my depression. I see a psychiatrist and do counseling as needed.

There are many treatment options that can help with depression. They can sometimes take some time to take full effect, but they are definitely worth trying.

Even though it might not feel like it when you’re depressed, you can feel better.

If the first treatment isn’t successful, there are usually many other options in the depression arsenal.

In the meantime, get support from your loved ones, along with licensed professionals, and keep fighting. You are stronger than you think you are.

Try 9 Small Ways to Find Joy in Your Day

If you feel you might be depressed, please get help. It’s OK to make a call and admit you’re not feeling like yourself.

Resources

SAMHSA National Helpline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

What can you do if someone you know has depression?

I’d like to share a few things that have helped me during rough times. I share these as a person who suffers from depression.

I think the best thing that has helped me is for someone to just say, “I’m sorry you’re having a hard time right now” and mean it.

It helps to know someone cares and that I’m not being judged.

I don’t want to be quizzed on why I’m depressed. Depression doesn’t make sense. It’s not like depression gave me an explanation when it walked in the front door.

Don’t judge them for living like a slob—they really can’t help it. Pitch in—even in little ways—if you can do so without making them feel bad. Order some takeout or help them do the laundry.

Be persistent in getting them up and doing something, even if they don’t want to. Be there even if they’re no fun to be around. They need you.

Know that the person you love can return to themselves again, often with some help.

It’s OK to ask if they’re getting the help they need. Sometimes we need a little push to reach out for help.

If they’re already getting professional help, then it might just take some patience for treatment to take effect.

Continue checking in with them and being there. Depression is so hard to go through alone. It makes a big difference knowing you can be open with someone and not scare them away.

Knowing What Depression Feels Like

I hope this description of what depression feels like helps to spread some understanding of the condition.

Depression sufferers all have unique stories, but there are common threads.

If you or someone you care about has been unfortunate enough to experience depression, please know there can be brighter days ahead.

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