What does depression feel like?

Image: Dolce Far Niente by John William Godward

Dolce Far Niente by John William Godward

“It was not really alarming at first, since the change was subtle, but I did notice that my surroundings took on a different tone at certain times: the shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful, and there was a moment during my working hours in the late afternoon when a kind of panic and anxiety overtook me…” – William Styron, Darkness Visible

Sometimes the Depression Self-Screening Tests are just too clinical, and the symptoms don’t really “click” with you. Some of the criteria are general, and if you’re suffering from depression, specifics are easier to understand.

I know that I might not have diagnosed myself with depression just on the basis of those symptoms. I had no change in appetite, and no sleep problems (getting out of bed was what was difficult). Below are some un-clinical symptoms.

    • Things just seem “off” or “wrong.”
    • You don’t feel hopeful or happy about anything in your life.
    • You’re crying a lot for no apparent reason, either at nothing, or something that normally would be insignificant.
    • You feel like you’re moving (and thinking) in slow motion.
    • Getting up in the morning requires a lot of effort.
    • Carrying on a normal conversation is a struggle. You can’t seem to express yourself.

  • You’re having trouble making simple decisions.
  • Your friends and family really irritate you.
  • You’re not sure if you still love your spouse/significant other.
  • Smiling feels stiff and awkward. It’s like your smiling muscles are frozen.
  • It seems like there’s a glass wall between you and the rest of the world.
  • You’re forgetful, and it’s very difficult to concentrate on anything.
  • You’re anxious and worried a lot.
  • Everything seems hopeless.
  • You feel like you can’t do anything right.
  • You have recurring thoughts of death and/or suicidal impulses. Suicide seems like a welcome relief.
  • You have a feeling of impending doom – you think something bad is going to happen, although you may not be sure what, and/or…
  • …You have a very specific fear that torments you constantly.
  • In your perception of the world around you, it’s always cloudy. Even on sunny days, it seems cloudy and gray.
  • You feel as though you’re drowning or suffocating.
  • You’re agitated, jumpy and and anxious much of the time.
  • Your senses seem dulled; food tastes bland and uninteresting, music doesn’t seem to affect you, you don’t bother smelling flowers anymore.
  • Incessantly and uncontrollably into your mind comes the memory of every failure, every bad or uncomfortable experience, interview or date, like a torrent of negativity.

You may also be interested in:

How Depression May Affect Your Life
What is Depression (and What is it Not)?
Reflections on Depression
You Can’t Fight Depression on Your Own
My Experience with Depression

Please feel free to post your comment about what depression feels like. Please do not post:

  • Questions about depression and how to handle it. Go here for that.
  • Comments on how you think it should be managed, including finding God.
  • Requests for other people to email you. Your email will be edited out of the post.

Also, please do not include “triggers” in your comment. In other words, do not include specifics of self-harm or suicidal plans, as this might trigger someone reading your comment.

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1,836 thoughts on “What does depression feel like?

  1. I am 22 yr old. Lost my father 3 yrs back. My family members are all Selfish busy with their life’s. My mother is either sad or angry, have never cared yo give moral support.in short life at homeis very gloomy and nobody cares. My college life is very stressful. Coming to my sympyoms At first I couldn’t stop thinking. Deep down I always wished for a someone who cared for me. Its so difficult to shut my mind. Every bad memory and thinking about future haunted me. Talking to people at first resolved but later on I felt more sad while discussing. Evry single person started getting on my nerves. I started arguing with my seniors/ lecturers on small petty things.I have seen a psychiatrist,diagnosed with mild depressive disorder on meds now currently.
    Now I feel numb, not wanting to leave the house, I don’t find interest in anything at all. I can neither strike a conversation nor listen to anyone with interst.I feel like my cheeks are paining. I don’t know how I am suppose to tell this to the doctor. First visit I was crying, second visit I said I am fine and she told me to continue the meds. I just dunno what to do.

  2. I am an optimistic and extrovert and I have also suffered from depression. After both my children were born, I experienced post-partum depression but because I normally have a social, upbeat personality it was hard to get people to understand the depression was real (not just the blues).
    I remember my moment of clarity was slipping on the stairs and thinking that it would’ve been great if my leg had broken because then someone else would have to come help me and I wouldn’t feel so helpless/hopeless.
    Depression can happen to anyone. It’s important to remember that it is a chemical flaw NOT a character flaw.

  3. I don’t know if I actually have or suffer from depression but alot of this makes sense if that makes sense but i find myself dull even my appearance has even gotten dull I get short with the people that I care about even my dog that’s not like me I feel off most days I have very few good days anymore I don’t even have fun with friend s anymore just feel lost

  4. I know that depression runs in my family and that I was prone to it, however, it wasn’t until a severe breakup did it show itself to me. It’s an ugly thing, man. I cry at everything, and I mean everything. It physically hurts if I don’t release tears, almost like a panic attack. I get agitated with friends and family. Just by their presence. They don’t even need to speak. I sometimes feel like I’m in a dream. Things slow down and aren’t real. I isedto wish to get sick or injured so people would feel bad for me and want to take are or me, instead of me always taking care of other people. I was on Pristiq and now lexapro. I sympathize with everyone on here.

  5. I’m 20 years old and have never really suffered from depression before now. I am always tired, I always have a headache, I want to sleep all the time, I cry over the smallest things, I can’t be around large amounts of people, I can’t do homework, I love my boyfriend but I don’t want to be with him, I love my family and friends but don’t want to be with them. I can’t seem to find happiness in anything I do anymore. I don’t want to kill myself but wish something else would.

  6. I feel as if I am worth nothing. I constantly feel as if I want to die. It just happens even when I’m not crying or in any problematic issue. It’s frustrating being this way because it affects my loved ones. I just don’t know how to control it. I also suffer through anxiety and low self-esteem. I have the sweetest most caring and dedicated boyfriend, and it is heartbreaking knowing that my issues affect his happiness. Every time we go out to public events I can’t help but feel like he is checking out other women. I feel as if other people are better than me and that I am nothing compared to them. I know he doesn’t I believe him by the way he is in general, but it’s so hard. It is because of me I feel less than others. I feel as if I am not good enough. I have these meltdowns constantly and I’m sure he has an idea of why but I have not told him what the main problem is. I hate everything about myself because I am the reason why I am so unhappy. The way I think is my main problem. I would rather be stabbed continuously and be fine in the end than to have this problem. There is no one else but him that I can talk to about this, I feel isolated hopeless worthless. I’m no good for nothing even though people tell me otherwise. When I don’t feel this way, it feels as if I have so much to look or war to in life. I am happy energetic loving and social. I love those days. But right when I feel like I might not go back to this feeling, it comes back. I feel as if I have plummeted down into a dark hole. I feel ugly. I feel stupid useless and worth nothing. I have tried committing suicide a couple years ago but it did not work out because of certain fears. I used to take around 8 aspirins every day and sometimes it went up to 14. I read that one can die from taking 12 or more and I tried but it didn’t work. I have physically harmed myself twice but i would’ve done it a lot more if I wasn’t afraid of what people might think of me. I am not religious and never have been. I don’t depend on anyone but myself. It’s so depressing.

  7. I have to felt depressed recently. I’m in college and I figure it was stress getting to me but I cry all the time and there’s no specific reason for it. I’ve gotten so upset that I’ve harmed myself. I feel so alone and unhappy. I feel like I’m just here, walking around in a daze half the time. I enjoy being around people because my mind isn’t thinking about depressing things. I just want to be like my old self again. I want to be content and happy.

  8. I’m constantly mad and I don’t know how to enjoy things anymore. I feel like I’m drifting in a sea of dark feelings all alone. I’m afraid i’m going to live like this for the rest of my life. If so, I don’t want to be alive.

  9. im 20 and ive been suffering from depression for 3 years. Latley it has gotten so much worse I feel like im loosing my mind. i have honestly never felt this alone, this isolated ever. Everymorning i just want to go back to sleep and never wake back up im always tired, i dont doing anything anymore most days i just watch tv even when its sunny outside i just stay inside and avoid everyone and everything. I feel so hopeless and useless i dont know why this is happening i used to be this confident energetic bubbly happy joyful amazing nice kind person that everyone wanted to be around and now im just this grumpy sad lonley and pathetic person. I have no friends anymore i pushed them all away i never talk to my family anymore i cry all the time sometimes i dont even know why. I am so selfish for being like this. Please pray for me.

  10. Well, for starters…I wish depression never existed. I feel like people who don’t understand depression completely and are judgemental about it are ignorant. It truly pains me to read all of these experiences because I didn’t realize so many people are going trough so much. I doubt anyone will read my experience but I just needed somewhere to vent. I think my depression started when I was in 9th. Maybe even before that but I am now 19 years old. I had always dreamed of going to college and being independent but over the years I developed depression. I kept it hidden for so long until I told my family when I was a junior in high school. It was painful to see their reactions because they had an idea but they didn’t realize how bad I had it. I’ve lied a lot to my loved ones about school and me personally and about my depression. I feel so guilty because even now they don’t know the truth. I just feel so alone even though I know I have people who care and love me. I don’t feel like I have friends maybe just one true friend. I am scared for my own life and I feel like being this way for the past 4/5 years has really drained all of my energy and I feel like this is the end of my life. I feel like I won’t make it anywhere even though I’m still young. I didn’t do well in high school and my act score sucked. I remember being a good student in elementary and middle but after that it all came downhill. I have regrets. I wish I was a better older sibling and daughter. Sometimes I imagine about being someone better or being the new improved me. I limit myself and I always tell myself to accept myself for who I am. I am not blaming anyone for my faults, just me. I wish just one person would just understand me completely. I’ve become anti social and I’m scared I’ll never get a boyfriend or get married and die alone. I love my parents and siblings and everyone around me and i just feel so bad. I feel like I’m not liked and I feel like it begins with myself. I cry myself to sleep sometimes. I know I need to help myself but I can’t even do that. I’ve been talking to a guy who I have developed feelings for and I’ve lied to him about my true self. I’m scared i might lose him. I don’t like attending family gatherings. I love my extended family but I don’t feel apart of it. I feel like I was born without a path. I don’t feel intelligent. I don’t like my personality. I look young for my age which I’m not so positive about sometimes. I have gained weight. I can keep to myself and appear secretive. I don’t express myself enough. I know people are going through worse and I just feel so bad because I know I shouldn’t be this way. Life is precious yet I would rather not be living. I didn’t have the best high school experience. I know I’m weak minded. I’m tearing up while typing this. People probably think I’m crazy and mentally challenged. I can have anger issues. I feel worthless and small. I feel I am not an attractive enough girl at times. I hope God can forgive me. I just want to be happy and accept myself. I’m so sorry to those who are going through worse or the same thing. I wish you the best in life. I truly do.

    • I read it ✋ and there’s people that understands. I honestly have felt most of what you’ve said and much more. it all just feels hopeless I don’t want to be in this abyss I’m in but I just don’t see any way to get myself out. Depression is a terrible thing. If you need someone to talk and have a kik mines _mekel_ i’ll pray for you

    • Hi there, i just wanted you to know i did read your experience and i do care, even though i do not know you. I feel horrible for you and wish i could take your pain away and everyone else who has depression. I really think you need help and need to talk to someone. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Many people do get well, and so can you! Please do not feel like nobody cares etc., if they do not know how much you are suffering then how can people care or help you?? I also, have depression so alot of what you say i understand. If you need to vent or talk please tell your family. If you want to reply to me let me know and i will give you my email.

  11. Right now my world is in despair

    The place I’m at I don’t want to be
    My life is full of misery
    I’m in a hole and can’t get out
    All I want to do is fucking shout
    With my life I’m so distressed
    It makes me feel intently obsessed

    Right now my world is in despair

    My thoughts are dark, my mind so weak
    The outlook of my life so bleak
    All I do is sit and dwell
    My life is just a living hell
    My mind is full of hopelessness
    This sorrow fills me with loneliness

    Right now my world is in despair

    Alan is my shining star
    Without him I don’t go far
    He does the things I used to do
    And tries to encourage me not to be blue
    The intimacy has all but gone
    My marriage is over if I carry on

    Right now my world is in despair

    I have to do things under duress
    My house is in an awful mess
    The laundry basket is overflowing
    my bed unmade the grime is showing
    The flagstone floor is really grubby
    I now rely a lot on hubby

    Right now my world is in despair

    The anguish I feel is so traumatic
    My life at this time is symptomatic
    I always feel so emotionless
    And full of self-loathsomeness
    My mind so dull I hurt, I hate
    I want my life back from this dreadful state.

    Right now my life is near its end!

  12. Since my childhood, I’ve been facing so much problems with myself. First of all, I’m a transgender.
    my mom always forced me to play with girls just because she wanted me to be her cute daughter but inside, i was a guy.
    girls think I’m abnormal so I always stay away from them; also that made me a cold,not very social and stressful person. I don’t have wishes,I don’t have goals. Im 18 but I don’t know what i am living for. I want to smile and make people happy, I want to fail and stand up to work hard again for something which I would give up on my everything. I want to laugh and don’t want to be useless. I love to be happy but I don’t know how, my parents never thought me how… I can’t even make a simple decision myself, I don’t want to die by suicide… i want to live happy and feel some pain

  13. I believe that I have depression and have a hard time dealing with it. Some people have suggested to me to go to the doctor and be prescribed an anti depressant, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t actually help but make things worse. I just wanted to know if anyone thought that it helped them?

  14. I feel so mad.Feels like I am drowning in a deep hole.I am unable to start a family with my husband.I lost my job. cannot get another job . I stopped studying . I am loosing patience and hope day by day. Astrologers say everything will fall in place but when God knows.Please help me. I want to have a grip on my life.

  15. depression is like drowning in pain, sdness, anger, anxiety, everything, its like drowning by urself and seeing everyone else up above the surface breathing and happy, its like not wanting to do anything, not wanting to exist, not wanting to go on with life, its like not wanting to exist, felling insignificant, very simpily, depression is one of the worst possible mental states that a person can be in.

  16. I feel like I’m sinking constantly and when I concentrate on that feeling I can’t breathe. Everything feels like it’s moving around me and I’m not doing anything at all. Everything is so pressuring, there’s so much to do and when I feel too pressured to do everything at once I feel like screaming but I can’t because I’m too tired to even talk.

  17. my parents dont really understand
    they just think im lazy and its my hormones
    but i was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when i was 7
    and again with major depression when i was 14
    they say im lazy but there are time where even moving is hard and speaking seems like the end of the world
    they think im just a sad teenager but when does teenage sad get t the point where im 17 and all i can think about is how better it would be if im dead and that im s fucking sad to the point where everyday life feels like watching paint dry and that everything is suffocating

    sure im happy sometimes and i smile and you think im cured and i was faking my depression but i can feel happiness and anger and fear just the same, but they are all plagued with a feeling of looming darkness
    when im happy i feel as though its just a joke and its going ti be ripped away from me
    im a broken kid
    i cant fix it as much as everyone wants me to be fixed i just cant
    im broken, un fixable and im just trying to stay alive
    some times its hard
    i just want people to know i am trying and i dont mean to be like this but i cant help it
    it sucks and i feel like im 60 years old and void of life rather than 17 and at the greatest years of my life
    im in so much pain and eveyoone expects so much out of me when i can only give so little
    im trying
    im trying so hard just to be okay
    not just for me but for everyone else

  18. That list is so accurate for me. I can literally relate to everything on that list. The only time I am ever content is when I am in bed. I only ever want to be on my own. I can’t concentrate. My memory is failing me. I am only 17, none of this should be happening to me, or anyone else for that matter. Nothing anyone can do will help me. I’m in my own bubble. I can’t be saved by someone else. I have to save myself, if I want to. Getting out of bed every morning is a chore to me. I cry over the simplest little things. I am making a video of what it is like to be clinically depressed, on a daily basis. It’s visuals can portray the despair and darkness I feel everyday.

  19. I don’t remember when I started suffering from depression. Substance and alcohol abuse as a teenager and young adult certainly didn’t help matters and probably contributed to my condition. After an extended period of travel, which ended in the fall of 2000 my depression finally knocked me off my feet. I was 38 years old. Extreme unhappiness, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide dominated my life. I saw a psychologist, verbalized my anxieties, fears, feelings, and that really helped. It took much of the power that those thoughts held over me, away. I was prescribed Prozac and took the medication for a few days before I decided through much research that it was not the path for me. I realized that I would have to live with this condition for the rest of my life and that there would be periods of highs and lows. I would just have to deal with it. For about 14 years, until I was 52, my life was pretty much a roller coaster, charging up and down through the seasons with the very low points coming in winter. Around my 52nd birthday I was feeling pretty bad. I was 10 – 12 kilos overweight (20 – 25 pounds), eating and drinking as I pleased, and really didn’t care if I lived another day. I told myself that suicide was the cowards way out, and that always managed to keep me from plotting my own demise. However, a nice accident, cancer, a good heart attack could work perfect. Those were my thoughts a little over a year ago. Then I stumbled upon a life reset book by Harley Pasternak called the “Body Reset Diet”. The key component of this book is walking at least 10,000 steps every day, and I have taken that part very seriously, typically walking at a cadence of 110 plus steps per minute. I walk a minimum of 90 minutes per day. The diet is simple and smart too. I lost 10 kilos in 4 months. I’ve read many times over the years that exercise helps battle depression, but walking every day has delivered much more. It has become meditation for me. I listen to good music on my iPhone and the time just melts away. I have been virtually depression free for over a year. I don’t remember the last time my life felt so good. I am positive and hopeful, and the daily challenges that use to weigh me down like an anchor don’t intimidate me any more. I want to live.

  20. I can’t cry anymore.i don’t think a person can cry without feeling something. No love, no hate, just nothing. Like a blank canvas never meant to hold a pretty picture. Only others who have depression know how we suffer, how we fade slowly away as the days go by. Healthy people live everyday with fullness, but we, we merely survive from day to day. To say depression is the common cold of mental illness some how seems an understatement, for me it’s a cancer, a monster that eats away at our ability to live like human beings.

  21. I get the same but it seems to be getting worse and i cry more when i am left along for hours than i used to.it also last longer for a couple of days been like it for nearly four years now since i was 15 never had counselling and only recently gone doctors starting counseling soon. And i had been living with my mum and younger sister and ex step-dad which have depression too. I have lost interest in many things i used to love doing. Ifind it hard to be able to let my new friends be as close to me as my old ones was. And arguement with my boyfriend make me get really depressed and alone like i have no one even though i do. It’s hard to see any posative in anything. It’s not great to live especial if your with someone it can be really hard for me and my partner to live with because it hurts him seeing the way i get. All he wants is for me to be happy but it’s so hard to deal with the past and everything.my family even know about what happened until last when i meet my boyfriend thats when everything came out. My grandma din’t know until this year two days before my 19th birthday. I had keep everything bottled up for years.

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