What does depression feel like? 2153


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.

Please note that comments are moderated – if you post a comment, it will not show up until it is approved, and this can take a few days. Also, please note that I reserve the right to edit comments, in terms of removing anything that I feel is inappropriate. Don’t bother to give me grief about freedom of speech – this is a privately funded and managed website.

Archived comments in response to this article can be found here.


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2,153 thoughts on “What does depression feel like?

  • Oscar

    Depression sucks… No other way to say it. Right now I am going through it and I feel that any kind of pain is enjoyable, time seems to go forever and I just want each day to end, I lost interest in everything, I give up so easily, no motivation. Every day I just feel exhausted as if my body is ready to give up and die. I try to surround myself with people but I end up feeling annoyed and bored with them when I do. My favorite songs don’t “hit” me anymore. But I still listen to them because it gives me the comfort of being alone. I sit in my room listening to songs all day ignoring everything…. I lost all emotion. I feel bored with life. There is so much more but I don’t feel like typing about it.

  • Lucas

    Depression…….is horrible

    It kills you in the inside, makes you stop doing everyday tasks and everything you need to do. You feel so lonely. I feel so lonely. No one to talk to, no one I want tot talk to. The kids at school, they look so happy. They look at me weird, and even my friends…maybe my friend. They say sarcastic remarks, but to me they seem real. Go die in a hole, your life is dark and sad, no one likes you. Are they serious? It’s hard, and if can be happy at times. But I feel like nothing has any purpose, when will it go away, when will it stop. I write this, with no emotion. But a blank mind. I want help, I need help. I want it to go away. When will it all end.

    • Lucas

      I cry a lot, and have stopped recently, but today I couldn’t handle it. I hope for the end of this.

      Goodluck, to anyone out their reading this. Keep on going. Don’t give up. And remember your not alone. Many people, just like you, are in this world.

      And remember, someone out their loves you.

  • mia

    I hate to come to any realization that something describes me perfectly, but this does. I’m never happy. I’m always trying to put myself in situations that I think will make me feel happy. Even when I do, I become disinterested. I once did the whole rush thing when I was a freshman so I could get in a sorority. I made it, I was pinned but I didn’t show my face the next day or then on because the thought of being with people all of the time, talking to people scared me. I used to love learning but now I could really care less. I always feel like death is knocking on my door, and if I have the slightest pain I just over exaggerate about it. I start confrontations all of the time, like with my parents, siblings, and it even caused me and my best friend to split to where we haven’t had contact in months. The thought of even asking for help scares me. I just always feel helpless, like a waste of space, unneeded. Anyone could try and convince me otherwise, I know for a fact that I am not needed, and life will go on if I’m not around.

  • Roz

    I lost my wonderful husband 4 yrs ago. I’ve never been the same. I’m sad all the time, and cry alot. My sons are grown so i don’t see them as often as I use to. I wake up to a beautiful sunny day, and feel it wasn’t meant for me. I still fumble in the dark. I’m in another place trying desperately to get back where I use to be. Like there’s a window between me and my yesterday. My life was pulled out from under me like a dirty old rug. What gets me up and moving every day are my 4 pets. 2 dogs & 2 cats. I’ve thought about ending it all many times, but to leave them with no one,or even someone unfamiliar to them. Never. Pets truely help. Not saying they’re the whole answer, but they’ve been good for me.

  • amber

    I have depression and I wish it would go away! Im very emotional and dont want to do anything more. Thoughts of suicide. My boyfriend just makes it worse bc he doesnt understand. I have difficulty expressing myself. What can I do? I just want to be happy.

  • Me

    Feels like i’ve lost most of the faith in myself that I used to have.

    Like the happiness and motivation that I used to feel was just an illusion that I saw through rose colored glasses which was my antidepressant.

    Everybody wonders and ask’s what my problem is because they don’t understand.

    I have no desire to have fun, get ready in the morning, or even get out of bed on some days.

    Staying awake for day’s, with the help of prescribed Adderall, and then sleeping for an entire day. Adderall is the only thing I have left right now that gives me a glimmer of life.

    Avoiding everybody. Not responding to texts, phone calls, or emails because I dont have the energy to sustain a conversation.

    Everything I do feel’s exhausting. Even just knowing that I have to talk to someone on the phone creates ridiculous anxiety.

    I get sensitive when somebody else points out my life problems. My mother makes me feel the worst even though she doesnt mean to. I end up just crying alone thinking about how much further down the path to failure im on.

    Extremely annoyed when any of my family members try to talk to me.

    I have no desire to be in a relationship with anyone. I used to get excited about love. But at this point, I don’t feel good enough for anyone so I avoid it all together. I also can’t handle anyone else leaving me.

    I stop posting statuses on Facebook.

    I have vivid nightmares about horrible things happening that I have no control over.

    I give up easily on things.

    I have sudden episodes of crying while im alone and I pray for God or WHOEVER to show me how to get rid of this feeling.

    I just feel hopeless. I question why im even living on this world right now when I mean nothing to it.

    I really hope things get better as I get older. I hope im strong enough to pull out of this and take control of my life soon because I dont want to live like this anymore.

    • me too... or tim

      Don’t beat yourself up thinking it’s a failure of your “strength.” The visually-impaired can’t make themselves see better by being “stronger,” so why should emotional-impairment be your failing?

      It isn’t. As someone who struggled for about a decade with depression without understanding what depression really is—a decade of thinking my misery was my fault and making the suffering far worse as a result—I ask that you don’t make my mistake.

    • stephany

      What you said its pretty much how I feel. I work 5 days a week and it requires constant interaction with customers. And i feel like I’m in a daze or I’m living in slow motion. I feel when I’m speaking to others, I’m not making sense. I feel like complete shit I use to take Aderall back in high school but stopped for about 2 years and I feel like the old feelings are coming back to haunt me. I feel theres no future or purpose for me anymore, I try to stay positive and keep my faith in God and hope that this goes away and suddenly I go back to being “normal”. I have acquaintances but no real friends , none in which I trust enough to express how I really feel. I cry and wish I was like everyone else friendly, normal and happy.

    • random robot

      I recognized myself in so many things you said, it’s scary.

      I’m scared of even starting things (college subjects for studying).
      I’m even scared of checking emails.

      Phone calls have become my worst nightmare, I have absolutely no energy to talk to people. They make me feel exhausted.

      I hate talking things like this to other people because I don’t want to make them feel bad.

      I was a very cheerful person, and even now I am cheerful around people, I’m usually the witty one who makes them laugh, but even spending time with others doesn’t help anymore.
      Before (around two-three years ago) when I went out with people, I would instantly feel better, but not now, especially this year.

      I don’t know how to explain it, but.. It’s like I don’t feel anything. When I fail I don’t feel anything, no sadness, no frustration, sometimes I feel guilt, but even that is inconsistent. When I do something good my mood is almost always still like a flat line.

      A close friend whom I really felt was the only one who truly was on the same wave length as I am stopped replying after we started getting closer. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t want anything romantic with me, I just wanted a friend who’s not so exhausting to talk to.

      I find it extremely difficult to get out of bed. Before, whenever I felt bad, I would just sleep it off and feel better when I wake up, but now it’s all the same, most of days.

      When I sleep, I often dream nice (that’s one of reasons why I love sleeping), but often I have nightmares too and wake up with my heart bumping like crazy.

      I watch some funny shows on you tube over and over, I know almost all dialogues that will happen.

      I feel like I am guilty for everything, and like I don’t deserve anything because all this was my fault to begin with.

      I hate checking Facebook, and talking with close people especially.

      I don’t really have suicidal thoughts, but I think about death sometimes.

      The worst thing is that I constantly feel drained, like I have no energy for absolutely anything. Like I said, the worst thing is getting out of bed. I could spend a whole day in it. When I’m not at college, I can catch myself sleeping for 12 hours, sometimes even more, but I have trouble falling asleep.

      I also daydream very often. I take a walk outside with my mp3, play music and daydream about some stupid things, like I’m in some show ridiculing all the things I said above and making jokes about life and death in general.

      Some days I feel better than others, though mostly I’m just a flat line (not sad, but truly apathetic, like nothing moves me), is that also ”normal” in depression?

      I’m sorry for the long post, I didn’t expect I’ll be able to write this much, I can’t bring myself to write in my own diary for months.
      I typed ”feeling nothing” and it led me on this page.

      Keep it up everyone, though at this point, I honestly don’t know how.

      Thanks for reading, I hope I helped someone.

  • AbbySmilesALot

    I’ve been pretending to be normal for so long that people don’t think I’m depressed but a cheerful person who loves life. I take meds for it but because it was aggravating a heart problem I have to take a lower dose which isn’t effective for me. I don’t leave my house except for work and getting food. I don’t have close friends or family so when I feel my worst all I can do is keep waiting for the worst to pass and then pick up where I left off. I guess depression is invisibility because there’s no outward sign of it, people just assume that because we haven’t died from depression our life must be going ok for us but we just pretend to be ok because honestly what can we do? We can’t just stop living but we can’t enjoy living either. We don’t die from depression but we can’t fully live either. We are stuck. So we will try live and try to keep the saddeness from touching our happiness.

  • Farah

    Hello there, I know that this is an old post, but I hope that I can get some answers if you happened to be still active. Does depression affect your dreams? or daydreams? I find that most of the times when I am at my deepest stage of ‘depression’ I’d have short hallucinations of taking furniture or an item and harm someone with it, regardless of how important that person is to me. It does sound funny when I say it, but having that kind of ‘depressive lapse’ for almost more than 2 years, it isn’t for me. Sometimes I’d break down and cry and fear of the day when I actually turned those ‘daydreams’ into reality. I don’t want to eventually hurt someone.

    The reason why I don’t know whether this is a symptom is because I am not seeing an expert on that matter. I have had an appointment once with a psychologist because my break-downs were affecting my studies. He did diagnose me as having depression but, well, my parent who was a doctor thought that he was probably exaggerrating my condition. So the diagnosis was changed to a milder type of condition that was similar to depression. I should have known better that maybe the psychologist was right, because that I have not moved on from that ‘mild diagnosis’ up until now.

    • AbbySmilesALot

      Dear Farah,
      I’m so sorry you are experiencing these nightmares and these frighting feelings. Sometimes people around us, especially family, can hold us back from getting the treatment we need because they really don’t want us to be sick. As always if you are having stong feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or others its recommended to seek professional help. I know we hear that a lot when depression is discussed but it truly is beneficial. Our minds are very complicated and when we are sick we can’t get better without a little help. I know that because I’m not you I can never fully understand what you are feeling but you have to believe that you are very important and that I sincerely hope that you feel better soon and that you don’t forget how valuable you truly are. I may not know you but I’m cheering for you and I believe you can get better. I believe we both can get better.

  • Emily

    Some body help me I feel like it a pain just to talk to people I’ve known for years. When people say hello to me I just walk pasted like nothing happened my job wich I would work with a gaunt smile on face now is just a place to sit and I feel berry fatigued I often cry for no apprentice reason I wrote on an enlist paper that I felt like I wanted to kill myself I had points that when ever I look down at a knife and think of staving myself with it I keep have nightmare about my life this has been going on since middle school I’m 18 now I’m tried of peapole ihave constant parnioea I can’t get myself out of bed most days I I take a shower 2x a week cause I feel like I just don’t have the energy I don’t shave ethier

  • Mitch

    It’s frustrating, it’s inconsistent. I feel like a total stranger in front of my grown kids, my whole family. Before I started therapy, decades after I should have, I felt I could tell no one — no one — for years about how awful and empty I feel inside. I cry, I cannot breathe. I often wake in the middle of the night fighting mad with my heart thumping in my head. And I cry some more. Then I perhaps sleep, then wake, and I smile and my facade rises once again. And I’m told I have sad eyes. I hate it.

    • AbbySmilesALot

      I’m sorry you don’t feel anything. I used to think feeling pain was bad but feeling nothing is worse.I would never wish it on anyone, I hope you feel again soon. Feel joy. Dont give up. We can’t give up. You’re not nothing. you’re a person , the only one of you on the earth.

    • Dineo Thinyane

      Today I tweeted “I feel boxed in and I can’t breathe, constantly” as a means to describe where I’m at mentally and emotionally. I’ve been running away from the fact that I’m depressed but I’ve been slowly acknowledging it too. My biggest issue is that no one really sees it and cares. And I don’t want to draw attention to myself too much either because that is annoying, you can’t very well force someone to care or listen. I’ve been living in the messiest room for weeks, I’m demotivated about school, and life in general. I’ve been looking for a job for more than a year and there’s been nothing. You’d swear I’m not a graduate. I’m missing tests at school for no reason, just that I couldn’t get out of bed. I’m not putting my strength into anything. I’m a living zombie, just floating through life, either unseen or with no desire for anything and it shows. I’m generally a person who doesn’t feel the impact of things till much later, these days I’m just not feeling at all. I’m crying alone in my room, or right now in the computer lab of my school and no one of the five people sitting around me have noticed, which is good because I’d rather not be seen than have to try and explain the inner turmoil I’m feeling. I should be doing research for my two assignments due next week a day apart from each other, instead I’m wallowing in my sadness and finding sites such as this one where I can wallow even more, amidst people who have their own problems. I don’t have money for a therapist or whatever and I don’t believe they’ll ever get through to me anyway. Nevertheless, I appreciate this site, thank you for the forum. I pray that we all heal. Love and light to you all.

  • Carol

    I’m giving you all a massive big hug! You all deserve one and need one.

    I know what it’s like to be a prisoner of your own mind, feeling
    like you are just
    existing and not living.

    I too, felt this way when I was 17/18. I’m now in 30’s.

    I want you to know things get better, but you must get help.
    This is not a weakness.
    Depression is very common.

    Medication, talking, counselling are options that can help. Your Doctor will help you to find what’s best for you.

    I think of it like this: If you break your leg ,you need to go get it fixed. If you have diabetes you need insulin to help your body stay balanced.

    The brain is such a complex thing. I used to hate it for making me feel the way I did.
    Please, Please believe me that you can get better and start to be happy.

    Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s an illness and you can get well. Tell your family or someone you can trust.
    Help is there, you just have to go and grab it.

    If I can do it , then you all can too. Definitely!!

    I wish you all the best of luck and happiness. Don’t be so harsh on yourselves. We are human after all. God Bless.XX

  • Selene

    Honestly. Everything has been triggering me lately. I have been constantly remembering negative memories. Out of nowhere, these memories started hitting me with a bang. I started noticing much more clearly what these people meant by the words they chose to say to me. I feel so damm alone sometimes. And, I feel as if I post a comment or tell anyone what I feel, I will just be looking for pity. But then, I feel as if I don’t, no one will know what I truly feel. I just… don’t know who to talk to. I feel as if I go to a doctor they will provide me with pills, and just look at me like “You’re fucked, kid.” I lost my two best friends… And it was my fault. I wanted to leave them. But now, I miss them terribly and despite it all I’m paranoid. I am just patiently waiting until my new best friends to leave me just like I have to the other two. They say Karma’s a bitch. And I am just waiting for her. I can sense it is already happening. They are already getting fed up with me.

  • Celeen

    My boyfriend had OCD I already know that ever since i even become his stress reliver his positve magnet, his reminder that everything is not real that things gonna be okay. that it was just in his mind! I try to be patience even sometimes his not aware he was already hurting me!I still understand him.Because I love him and i dont want him to think and absorb the negative thought. i avoid to tell him negative stories and expercience of mine unfortunately my dilema arise when i had a problem and no one to talk to i couldn’t ran to him cause i know he will feel bad and thats not good for him. And i dont want him to absorb my problems my stress by this. He become used to it that he didnt bother to ask me how i am?!if im okay? I develop anxiety and depression of hiding my problems, personal issue,experciences, i just caught myself crying out of nowhere, crying out of something that i dont know what it is. And sadly i feel lonely and alone i forgot to trust to other people,and now im scared to open up my issues to my best friend and friends. Im scared that they might think im crazy and cant understand me. I even caught my self wishing to that a car will hit me and Die!i feel unlove by him…i try to broke up with him but i couldnt because i love him. Knowing that it kills me everytime i hide my real feelings and emotions.its funny i mastered how to fake and looks so happy and stress free..but deep inside i WASs dying!!!i want go
    And be gone with@ the wind!

  • Scott Paterson

    I accidentally came across this site. I started to read this I relized that most of the points are what’s happing to me. I can’t remember a time when I used to have so much hope excitement and happiness. I used to remember just having a boost of energy and excitement going up the stairs, so I ended up just running up the stair. About a year or two after I left school I enjoyed the freedom but over time felt a strong sense of pressure on me. Now I am 22 and I am feeling low especially in the last year I am in a job is so annoying and frustrating. My family is difficult especially after my parents divorce and I not close to my dad I haven’t really been close before the brake up I have a older half brother that we don’t talk or se each other. I’ve tried to keep in toach with him but nothing and I have a younger brother who not long ago stole half my savings and he is entirely differnt person from me. My mum we have always been close but in the last few weeks whenever I say something she may agree but her face says something else and even tring to help her with my younger brother and my younger cousin(whom we been watching for a while) I end up getting a shouting and after that they get away from whatever it is.

    The last few months I have been staying in more and more as if I can’t be bothered with anything.There’s been so much more thingslittle and big but one of the things I hate doing is bothering people with my problems. I also felt like I was a outsider with my dyslexia

    I have no idea if anyone will ever read this since the last comment was nearly two years ago but a well.

  • Ryan B.

    This is where I find myself right now, and I’m not really sure what it means.

    I consider myself an intelligent person. I try to be self-aware and constantly self-analyzing. But I realize that I no longer have an explanation for the way that I feel. Depression runs in my family. My father is bipolar. My grandmother on my mom’s side died a year ago. The circumstances around her death seem to lend to suicide.

    I’ve been to counseling in the past, but that was for childhood issues. I grew up in a mostly verbally, somewhat physically abusive home. My father’s own illness had him jumping to multiple mood extremes in any given day.

    Now, just a month away from my 32nd birthday, I find myself much the man that I grew to despise. Not as a whole, but I’m starting to relate to what was going on inside.

    I find that things that I used to love no longer bring me joy. I’m a musician, yet sometimes I feel like I no longer care about music. I have the ability to write and record music at home, and even though I feel some slight semblance of accomplishment from creating something, it is fleeting.

    I’m in a relationship with a great girl who at times I’m unsure if I love anymore. The problem is that it’s not her. Nothing about her has changed and she’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. It’s not because I don’t care about her. It’s because I don’t care about anything.

    The hardest thing about depression isn’t just the way it makes you feel. It’s the way it makes you confused about ANYTHING you feel. It’s the fact that you can logically know something to be true, but feel something completely different and have no control over that feeling. Depression makes you question everything. It is looming self-doubt in its deepest, darkest forms.

  • Rebecca

    I’ve suffered from depression for years. Probably since early childhood but only diagnosed in the last 4 years or so. I can’t describe depression to people and get quite frustrated when I tell someone and their first reaction is to say “but you’ve got nothing to be depressed about..?” Like it has to be caused by a specific event! I feel like I can’t connect to people, like I’m constantly disappointing people and that I’m worthless. I can’t stand myself sometimes. I’ve had constant issues in work, family and love life because of my attitude which I know stinks at times, I find myself reflecting on my own actions and feeling ashamed of myself. I look at other people and cannot figure out his they function so well when I can barely keep it together day to day. One comment, remark or feedback either professional or personal can set me back for days, I dwell on emotions and worries which I cannot seem to shift. I don’t know why I can’t just be a happy, nice, cheerful person and I don’t understand why I constantly do things wrong. I’ve seen therapists, taken medication and spoken openly to friends and family all in the hope that there is some miracle cure I can find that will fix me, I long for the day my brain isn’t in a constant fog and I can look back and think “I finally feel like everyone else, I am fixed, I can’t imagine how I ever survived the way I was feeling”. Try as I might I’ve never been able to find that miracle cure and I worry so much that I’ll never feel normal…

  • Kate

    My hygiene goes completely out the window. I don’t care what I look like or if I smell bad. I won’t shower for days, put makeup on, brush my teeth. I let my living space get absolutely filthy, and then I when I look around at the mess it just creates more self-loathing.

    I can’t get out of bed in the morning. And when I do, I simply go through the motions of the day. By evening I make any excuse to crawl into bed early.

  • Antonio

    I feel like what was described in the symptoms all the time. I presently work with my friends and I don’t want to work with them anymore. Nothing against them. I hate being at home but much rather stay there, all the time. If I don’t have to get out of my bed, I won’t. A lot of the time, I just want to be left alone. No phone calls, no conversations. Nothing. I had a great start to the year, but I quickly went from being super happy to whatever it is that I am now. I don’t like it. I don’t feel like I matter to anybody. I hate the place I’m in in my life and I just want to be happy. That’s all.

  • Rosemary

    It’s anxiety for me: fear of going to sleep, paralysis which destroys getting anything accomplished. I am crippled with paralysis and it’s so difficult to move forward.

    Manic and so anxious of how to provide for my future. My job prospects are a joke due to advanced age of 53. Technology has passed me by. I am exhausted and just want to end it.