What's It Like to Have Depression?

What does depression feel like? In different groups and persons, it can vary. But you may find some sympathy right here. Click for some real experiences!

Everyone feels blue once in a while. We often hear people sigh, "I'm depressed," even if they really feel just a bit lonely or sad after a recent heartbreak or loss. For an actual diagnosis of depression, clinicians will ask patients a barrage of questions when they consult for symptoms of mental disturbance such as depression. Often, they may be asked if they feel very sad and whether their feelings affect their work, their health and their relationships with others. Read on and find out if you need help with clinical depression.

What Does Depression Feel Like?

Different people have varying experiences with regards to depression. However, there are certain symptoms that are commonly seen in clinically depressed patients, including:

  • Loneliness, irritation, and difficulty concentrating
  • Numbness or a lack of emotions
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Trouble sleeping/sleeping excessively
  • A significant lack of energy
  • A significant loss of interest in certain things that would typically excite them
  • Feelings of despair or emptiness, and thoughts of self-harm or death

It may feel like you are in a fog, with everything happening in slow motion. Nothing excites you anymore and life just seems to be meaningless. You may feel apathetic or indifferent to everything around you. You may even feel like crying for no reason at all. And for different grounds, the specific feelings can vary.

In Women

Women are twice more likely to suffer from depression than men. One explanation involves hormonal factors, which may coincide with their menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. They are also more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder, which is related to changing seasons. What does depression feel like?Their manifestations include oversleeping, overeating, having feelings of guilt, and weight gain.

In Men

Men often cannot express emotions because it is often perceived as a sign of weakness. Therefore, they are less likely to acknowledge their feelings of despair or hopelessness. However, they may become irritable, complain of fatigue or sleep problems, and lose interest in their work or hobby. Others may show anger, aggression, reckless behavior, or turn to substance abuse. Although depression is more common in women, the risk of suicide related to depression is higher in older men.

In Teens

Some teens may obviously appear sad, but many of them manifest other symptoms such as irritability, the most common symptom of depression in teens and adolescents. They may become grumpy and hostile, and can easily lose their temper. Some also manifest with unexplained aches or pain. If left untreated, depression in this vulnerable age group can lead toself-loathing, problems at home and at school, drug abuse, violence or even suicide. Fortunately, teenage depression is very treatable, so it is important to recognize early signs.

Older Adults

These people often get lonely especially after the loss of a loved one or other problems such as failing health and loss of independence. Although it is normal for older adults to experience frustration over these concerns, depression is not part of the normal aging process.

What does depression feel like in older adults? They often express physical manifestations and complain less about emotions. Because of this, depression may be unrecognized. It often manifests as poor physical health, which increases their risk for premature death or suicide.

Postpartum Depression

It is not unusual for new mothers to suffer from "baby blues," a temporary form of sadness. However, some moms experience long lasting and serious depression, which is clinically recognized as postpartum depression. This is triggered partly by hormonal changes associated with the delivery of a baby. It may develop right after delivery, or anytime within six months of delivery.

Others’ Real Experiences

What does depression feel like? Here are some personal experiences from different people:

1.     Dull and Can't Smile

"My best friend asked me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding. At that time I was still grieving over my grandmother's death and I felt so depressed. I did not have the motivation or energy to celebrate with my friends. It was like I was feeling dull with no emotions at all. It seemed like I did not care about her happiness, but I really did not feel like smiling at all during the wedding." – Gina

2.     Feel Like Sleepwalking

"When you have lost any feelings for a while, it seems like nothing has meaning anymore. Until you have experienced losing all feeling, you don't realize how important your thoughts and feelings are on a daily basis. Depression feels like I was always sleepwalking. I could interact with people around me, but I never felt fully present or even real." – Lara

3.     Emotions Swing like Pendulum

"It feels like a pendulum because I can feel OK one day, but I can suddenly swing back to a gloomy mood again."

4.     Don't Want to Wake Up

"At the time I was depressed, I didn't want to wake up. I liked it much better when I was asleep all the time. Waking up was like a nightmare, and that was really sad." – David

5.     No One Can Understand

"Some friends did not understand how I felt. They didn't understand how desperate I was to hear that they love me and I support me. I wanted someone to say to me that they loved me just the way I am, because I'm wonderful just the way I am. It was really sad because I can't remember anyone ever saying that to me. My friends think I am so demanding and it was difficult for my friends because I wanted to crumble before them. So I always stayed in my room, lying in bed, crying all the time." – Jessie

6.     Feel Lonely Even in Crowds

"You can be lonely even if you're surrounded by people. It can even be lonelier than when you're just by yourself. I can be in a huge crowd, but when I don't feel like I can trust anyone or talk to someone, I feel like I'm really alone." – Tish

7.     All My Fault for What Happens on Me

"I didn't want to see anyone. I would just lie in the bedroom with curtains drawn. I felt like everything that was happening to me was my own fault. I knew I have done something wrong, and it was drowning me. I felt so inadequate, stupid, and worthless. I might as well be dead." -- Dan



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