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.

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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2,150 thoughts on “What does depression feel like?

  1. I am just tired of my life….i feel like i have no one for me…everything looks like fake…everything…family friends…everything…i just want to finish all these things..i just want to kill myself….pls…someone help me to die…i want to die…but i am scared….just kill me….i will be very thankful if anyone do so

  2. I know nobody would bother to read this long story about me but I just wanted to put it out there. I’ve been depressed for two years. I always thought about killing myself, that the world would be better without me or that I am not someone special. Sometimes when I have a bad day I go to my room and cry. Saying that I’m a useless person or that people hate me. So much negativity going through my mind and causing me this pain. I remember going to the kitchen to get a knife to cut myself thinking that I can relieve the sadness in me but I heard one of my family members coming so I quickly put the knife away. Whenever I think about doing something bad I cry in private and try to calm myself down, I always try to put on a genuine smile when someone talks to me. My trust has been broken, people leaving me, and getting betrayed so much has caused my depression. There’s times when I talk badly about myself, I sometimes always try to encourage myself. But sometimes that encouragement ends up in me saying something negative again like I’m always going to be alone. I can never find someone who can actually talk to me. I’m usually quite at school and I don’t have that much people to rely on at school cause I feel as if I don’t belong there or that everyone hates me. I told one of my friends (since the other one is harsh to me an I don’t know if she’s messing around with me) what I was going through and told me herself that she has gone through depression since her parents got divorced. She told me that I needed to speak up like she did. So I did with my mom I told her that I have been depressed for 2 years and I have felt like killing myself. And she’s telling me that me playing video games is the reason why I’m depressed but I kept telling her that it’s not. Its because I feel like crap at school, my trust has been broken multiple times, and people leaving me. And she still kept saying that and I was getting pissed off so I left looking all red eyed. But even so, I feel like opening up made it a little bit better but there’s times where I get so sad I start to talk bad about myself. 2 months later and I still feel the same. I’m thinking about talking to my mom again knowing that part is going to be hard. I just hope the future me will be happy. There is more but it will be to long. But if you’re going through depression speak up I know it’s hard but always encourage yourself to do it.

  3. Depression to me feels like living a constant battle with my emotions that had no way out. I’ve been depressed for several years now. It came out of nowhere for no reason so by the time I knew what was wrong with me, my life was already controlled by it. At first it was just mild with a few days where it got bad enough to interfere with my life but still nothing to serious. As the years continued to pass I noticed it became constant with the severity usually mild but occasionally worse. I was deep into my depression before I realized that who I was and how I acted were deeply affected by my depression. I felt like a shadow of my former self, and any effort to change my situation fell in vain. When I finally attempted to reach out I was shunned, ignored, and called a faker. It was difficult enough to convey any feelings on a daily basis, but this made my frustration, anger, and anxiety spiked. Now joy was completely gone from my life. It wasn’t long before I started crying myself to sleep, something I had been fighting doing for a while. Going to bed was torture, because the one place where I thought i could escape my thoughts became the place they cultivated best. My already poor sleep became worse and turned into constant restlessness. Every day I have to wear a mask to get through the day, and use all my willpower to get just a fraction of what I need to get done accomplished. I’m tired , lonely, and frustrated. I just want my life back, to feel joy again, to have peace of mind, to stop being a rainbow in the dark because of my depression. I struggle towards a future where I see no happiness for me, where I’ll struggle for the rest of my life until I’m lucky enough to get old and die in my sleep.

  4. I’m sick and tired of life already I just don’t know what to do I’ve lost my company I could remember the time I could smile and doesn’t take everything in me to do that those were the time everything was going smoothly for me oh I could remember how me and my friends Hangout together and jist about a lot of things but everything changed when I met this guy if only I could turn back the hands of time I would change it back to the time that guy asked if he could be my boyfriend then I would have said NO but unfortunately I can’t I really love this guy and I thought he loves me too but I was wrong he claims he loves me but it was a lie I never knew and I was doing everything for this guy he will ask me for money whenever he’s broke and I will give him this guy never did anything for me but because I love him I don’t care to cut the story short I found out this guy was trying to kill me then I have no other choice but to run for my life because me and the guy are in the same institution I have no other choice but to drop out of school that was how my misery started my parents were so disappointed in me that they use everyday to curse me now I want to go back to school but my parents are not ready to support me they’ve already given up on me now I don’t have money to pursue my education and because of that I use everyday to cry hoping for a miracle to happen

  5. I feel trapped like I’m drowning and it’s hard to breath it comes and goes. during the day I feel ok tired and irritable at times but sometimes happy but it’s really bad at night when I’m alone ecspecially if I’m stressed or sleep deprived I feel overwhelmed like i need to escape but I can’t. I feel isolated and I want to be social but when I’m around people i get anxious and want to be alone. I don’t know if I’m really depressed because there are times I feel normal.

  6. i dont feel any care for anything… my thoughts are so hard to get together. i feel no desire or want to get them out.

  7. I never realized how many of you are suffereing like me. It sort of helps to know this. The wrong therapist can do such damage to sensitive souls like us- so PLEASE be careful and listen to your inner self. There are those that can help- but be careful they are few and far between.
    There has to be a beginning to get better. Take small steps until you feel comfortable right? Maybe being around others that feel the way you do is helpful for a while.
    I cannot be around most people in general because they seem to want to hurt me constantly. I believe that the world is filled with a majority of evil selfish narrsacistic people. I ask constantly, why? Why do people hurt others? I couldn’t hurt a fly and I would never treat others that way.
    I am afraid and in pain and the last thing that I want to do is be around ignorant selfish people.

  8. Depression is such a horrible disease. It gives me near constant terrible headaches which feel like a pressure. It causes me to feel in a daze a lot. And the pain..I can barely lift my arms because I feel like a weight is on them. The world seems like it has slowed down if I look outside at the world and my world is like I’m in a cave, or inside a bubble..a bubble of drowsiness and emptiness. Evenings and night times are VERY painful as the darkness is heavily triggering for some reason. Something about the quietness and black causes psychological pain.

  9. life is a bitch … but i ll fight for it cuz i believe that nothing lest forever , yeaah i think i’m that hopefull person ; we go down sometimes but we deserve to live , we’r here for a reason a believe that too ; everybody have problemes but u need to move on so u can bre ath ;think everything have a key u just need to find that key ..

  10. my kind of depression relates to social life and a job with lack of passion…

    social life
    – i have social-phobia, scared of what other people think of me when they first met, their negativity towards me, if i irritate them and not kind enough… im not good in social nor making and keeping friends.. i have few friends.. im not good at groupie.. and i always withdraw myslf from a group or a good friend.. this has put me in a depression until today.. which somehow opposites to my childhood life..

    passionate in career/job
    – personally i took the wrong job when i started my career.. the place was promising.. and i tot of challenging myself to be a good writer.. i ended up hating it.. as i did not know how to manage the work.. till it made me depressed up to 4 years.. i easily fell sick, i had no mood to go to work, i hate the place, the people, the bosses etc… i felt that everyone was against me.. which it wasnt since depression took over my happiness…

    depression had taken over my life.. i was alone.. was afraid to voice out my opinion.. talking to people.. depression is not a good feeling at all.. i feel the pain inside my chest.. and always makes you cry w/o reason.. you are unable to express yourself..

    but im getting over these two things.. slowly.. and it’s progressing and people obviously see me happier than before.. i somehow.. slowly treating myself to get over this depression.. tho sometimes i cry alone…..

  11. Every morning i wake up i have no feelings or ambitions. I cannot get up and start the day in a reasonable amount of time, i don’t even have a day to start i haven’t been leaving the house for anything really in over 5 months. I want to cry and let all the pain out but i cannot. All these ideas run through my head everyday of why i can’t do this why i can’t do that, once i catch myself thinking that negatively i try and make it better and think of something i could do to help myself but i can never take that next step. I don’t want to be lazy, i want to get up and go do things but i can’t. the idea of ending it crosses my mind everyday but i rather sit here and wither away than end it, i don’t think my family would ever recover if i did something that serious. I have so much love to give this world and the people that inhabit it but i can’t seem to show them my feelings, i can’t express myself at all. I don’t know who I am

  12. The only way I can describe depression is on-going, like a path with no destination. You used to find the world beautiful, but now it’s merely a place where you have to tolerate until prince death wisks you away. You used to think of death as darkness, something to avoid; since life is darkness, maybe death is the same- minus the hopeless bullshit of those fake smiles or those people who still expect you to be the extroverted life you used to be, minus that melancholy feeling when your trying to be the person you used to be- but it doesn’t feel like you’re floating on clouds like before, now in feels you’re staring at your bedroom with that grey solumn feeling of darkness that you always feel, like your wings have been snapped, like you never knew of the concept of gravity until now because you feel like you’re sinking in a hole. Smiling feels weirdly unnatural. The world has no more wonder. Maybe if this happens, this feeling will go? It happens- you still feel the same… the sadness lingers, maybe it’s apart of me now. You know it’s the end when you find yourself taking risks without a second thought; this body I’m trapped in is worthless, let my soul float through space. Physicality is a desease. I’m melting.

  13. What if I only feel people are annoying sometimes,too self-conciuos,no confidence,suddenly cry with no reason,don’t don’t feel like leaving my house?

  14. Yes, I feel suffocated and detached – like everything around me is in grey. I feel like I will go the rest of my life without knowing what it would be like to experience real happiness, as any time something good happens to me, I can’t help but feel hesitant about it – like I don’t deserve it. A feeling of impending doom.

    I feel like everyday, I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes, I’ll start thinking that maybe things aren’t so hopeless after all – maybe I can pick up a new habit, or maybe I can try making some do-able SMART goals to change some parts of my life RIGHT NOW. But then, sooner or later those thoughts go away, I can’t sustain them, and I’m back to drowning in this reality, with what feels like less strength than I had before.

    But what’s weird is that I also feel like depression and anxiety are just who I am – like without them, I’d be a completely different person, but I’d lose what makes me ME. I do appreciate that I’m a very reflective person (even though sometimes I reflect on things too much, to the point where I begin dissecting and worrying about them), and I like that I can analyze things internally without simply jumping to conclusions – I take in all sides.

    But then again, for the most part I’m not sure that I even KNOW who I am. I’m devoid of personality, and indecisive. Hopeless. I feel like I need someone else to guide me through life – a mentor, or a sensei. It’s just so hard doing this alone…

  15. For me personally, depression feels like a warm, fuzzy, heavy blanket warming my chest, sometimes shoulders, making me want to just go to sleep again and again. It also doesn’t feel at all negative for me. I’ve had depression since I was somewhere between six and eight years old, and I’m now in my teens, so it’s a familiar and sometimes welcome feeling. Depression has a way of quietly convincing you it’s your friend, and also tries to make it so that it’s your only friend. It manipulates your thinking into these negative things, bringing up cringe-worthy memories and reminding you of every failure, never letting you smile at a memory. You sometimes feel like constantly crying for little to no reason at all, and sometimes you start taking it out on yourself one way or another. The people close to you may or may not know, and either way it feels horrible and you’re never happy with either option. You just want to feel happy for longer than a few seconds or minutes. You want to go to a theme park and feel happy and giddy hours or even days after the trip, and you don’t. That’s what I feel with my depression, even as I take my meds, but it’s not the end, no matter how bad it may get. Maybe your life is hell constantly, maybe you’re poor and struggling, maybe you’re the average joe, or even some rich man’s kid, who knows. What I do know is that depression isn’t a choice. Your life could be perfect, with unicorns and rainbows and whatever else, but if you have depression, those rainbows and unicorns will seem dull, almost grey-scale in your eyes, because you can’t seem to enjoy them. Don’t judge someone for being depressed, or crying a lot, or not enjoying something. Sometimes they don’t have a choice.
    Sorry for the long paragraph

  16. I’ve never related myself to anything as much as I did with whatever you’ve mentioned. But, how to fix this? how to go ahead like this?

  17. I don’t have the urge to cry, but mostly everything else is definitely me. Substance use, feeling completely pointless and like I am a joke. I’m lonely and the last man I was interested in was lying to me and seeing another woman and somehow it went bad because of me. I still can’t quite figure that one out. All I want to do is sleep. I don’t want to go to work and I am normally a very social person but have stopped all social activities. I really don’t expect any responses from this post, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel better just by clicking the submit button.

  18. For me, it just feels like I cannot find any reason to feel joy. Everything seems so meaningless. I feel like I am all alone, kind of like I am always in the bathroom- very isolated, cold, alone, and private. I guess everyone just envisions it differently. I also feel so empty and like I have no one that I can trust or that is there for me. It ends up making me think about the meaning of life and I can never find one. Life seems too repetitive and every single thing seems so meaningless. I also feel so unmotivated and avoid things due to this.

  19. i have lost interest in everything i thought i liked, i’ve been living a fantasy for so long and living a life that i can’t even call life. i find only sleep the best part of my day, im so miserable and so lonely. i see nothing in the future for me, it all seems so hopeless i’ve been sleeping in class because i can’t get enough sleep and plus whats the point? i will become a huge lowlife that won’t succeed in anything. the only thing i enjoy is watching films. i don’t want to socialize with anyone at all. i feel no enthusiasm in anything, nothing really cheers me up, always got a blue face, i can’t even make a convincing smile.

  20. I don’t know if people are still posting on here but i have been feeling down for a bit now. like im alone, sad all the time and all i want to do is cry for no reason. i use to listen to music as an escape from life but now, i listen to music and it doesn’t feel the same. i try to listen to my favorite artist and nothing. its like im just there.i don’t feel like eating, i know i have to and i do but. i see it as something i have to do. there are moments in which i think im fine and i feel like everything is back to normal then the next second im lost and i want to cry and cry. i try to keep my mind busy by going to the gym, reading,work, school, watching tv, or pretty much anything that will distract me but when i stop for a second then im back to feeling that way. that’s no me, i don’t want to keep feeling like there is no more hope left or that life sucks. i just want to be me again.

  21. I feel like everything is hopeless and there’s no real reason for any of us to be alive. I constantly feel like there’s like a monter or ghost idek trying to get me. I can’t walk outside at night and it’s even growing into the day. My body is always low on energy and in pain and everyone has become annoying and almost intolerable. I’ve been loosing portions throughout my day like I don’t care enough to remember, someone will tell me to do something and I either don’t do it or do it wrong because I just don’t remember. Everything feels fake and it’s like I’m watching the world as a tv and i almost forget I’m actually in certain places or at school and it’s not just a movie like oh yea this is real life. I struggle in school now when I used to be an A student; it’s just F after F. I can’t talk anout this cause no one understands. Everyone tells me to just change my perspective but I can’t. This is how everything is everyday. I’m completely irritated by any noise but for some unknown reason I have this constant ringing in my head that never goes away and the quieter it gets the louder the ringing is and I just want to rip it out. I just can’t stand anything.

  22. I’m experiencing some depression, well I think it is or it is just a horrible part of my life I am going through right now. Everything has changed and I feel uncomfortable. I moved in with my boyfriend a couple of months ago and left my mother which I am so close with. My mother has depression which made it x10 worse leaving her as she relied on me, since I have moved out I constantly worry about her, she hasn’t been sleeping, eating much or anything. I’ve also started a new job as a carer and I am so unhappy because I just know it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life, I don’t know I just feel trapped like I’m waiting for the pay check and oh yay it’s another month of working in a nightmare. I hate the staff they are all so 2 faced and it’s just not a nice place to be. I left college last July and since then I hardly socialise with anyone, I just feel so alone. My partner isn’t back from work till 7.30pm and somedays I work afternoons and nights which means I’m in allll day trying to kill time and forget how crap my life actually is. I go the the gym to make me feel better but I always seem to binge which makes me feel better but makes the situation worse. I used to be so fit and so strict with eating healthy which I used to enjoy. Now I feel like I have no interest in it all anymore or nothing is worth it. I feel lost really lost and I don’t know what road to go down. I’m only 19 and I think I wasn’t ready to move out. The most depressing thing is I feel like I’m living life as an older woman, always cleaning, working all the time and isolating myself (I also have a social anxiety disorder which makes it harder for me) I really don’t know what to do.

  23. I went through a bad depression about 25 years ago and with medication I came out of it. About a month ago it hit me like a ton of bricks. I prayed I would never feel like this again. The anxiety is the worst part. I feel like I swallowed a vibrator that I can’t turn off. I worry about everything especially money. I just count down the hours till I can take a (prescription) sleep aid and go to sleep. I sleep about 6 hours and wake up with the worst feeling and horrible anxiety and the the vicious cycle starts again. It’s a constant feeling of hopelessness and despair. I would not wish depression on anyone.

  24. I don’t really know if I have depression, but it’s the only thing that can describe what I’m feeling right now an for the past few weeks. What I’m feeling is like I’m uninterested in anything anyone says, I want to be alone but I also want someone to relate to(but I can’t because I’m scared of how they might react), it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest 24/7 and I’m losing my appetite. I used to eat a lot but now I’m skipping meals and eating less and less as the days go by. I always have headaches and everyone seems to make me mad nowadays and it’s not okay for me to blow up on my family members the way I do. Are their any ways to help stop depression without going to my parents and speaking about it?

  25. i feel like i cant even describe what i feel like
    i feel like someone close to me has died, ive never experienced a death in the family but i imagine it feels like this
    my best friend decided she wanted nothing more to do with me and my boyfriend decided he doesnt feel the same way about me, and i feel like im never going to find anyone again
    i thought i was getting better
    i feel like substances will hide my feelings but it really just makes everything so much more unbearable and forces me into an emotional relapse again
    i forget how bad i react with drugs
    i feel like ive never really been happy. i dont know. im scared. i have a lot of anxiety attacks but the strange thing is i dont get an overwhelming fear of dying but rather of living. like im terrified to be alive. i cant tell if its a nice day or not because even tbough the sun is shining and the sky is cloudless and the birds are singing, the sky looks grey and i cant tell if im crazy or if it is really grey
    i dont know if its seasonal, the situation, a major episode, my period or the drugs too but when i stay away from drugs nothing improves. i forget that while nothing improves, everything gets worse under the influence.
    i feel so alone.
    i feel like a burden to everyone for being sad all the time and i feel the need to genuinely apologise for it even though i know its not my fault, but it causes others issues. im at the point where im so frequently tearful nobody really checks up on me anymore because they expect it from me
    im just really sad and im scared its not going to end because its been 4 months and i really dont know how much longer i can go on like this