Depression is something we all feel now and then. Some people only feel this feeling for a short time, and it goes away on its own. But for some people, this feeling of emptiness, sadness, and hopelessness stays with them all the time.
What depression feels like?
If your mood has changed in the last few weeks and it's getting harder to do the things you do every day, you may have depression, and you're not the only one.
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. According to data from 2017 18 million adults in the United States who are 18 or older had at least one major episode of depression in the past year.
Depression is a mood disorder that can cause mild to severe symptoms that can change how you feel, what you think, and how you handle day-to-day tasks.
How Does Depression Make You Feel?
Many people think that in order to get help for depression, it has to be crippling and cause big problems in their lives. What they don't realize is that some of the more subtle signs of this disorder are often the first signs that something is wrong. Here are some ways depression might make you feel.
When you are depressed, you feel like there is no joy or pleasure in life. A board-certified psychiatrist named Anjani Amladi, MD, says it's so much more than just being sad. Amladi says that depression makes people lose interest in things they used to enjoy, and many people feel like nothing will ever make them happy again.
•It gets harder to concentrate and pay attention, which makes it hard to make any kind of decision. Amladi says that sometimes people describe this as being in a fog because they can't think straight or understand what's going on around them.
Many people with depression feel like they can't get better. It seems like there is no way out and no light at the end of the tunnel. Amladi says that this can make a person feel like a failure and not worth anything. In worse cases, it can make people think or act suicidal.
•Depression has a big effect on sleep as well. This usually shows up as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up often at night, or waking up feeling tired even though you got enough sleep.
This can make people feel tired and low on energy, which can make it hard for them to even get out of bed or do normal things like take a bath, eat, or brush their teeth.
Sometimes depression can hurt you physically. Depression can cause body aches, headaches, muscle tension, and even nausea.
How do people with depression say it feels to them?
Leela R. Magavi, MD, is a psychiatrist and the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry. She says the question, "How does depression feel?" comes up most often in her practice.
Some people ask me this question to feel better and to know that they are not alone in what they are going through. Others ask this question because their feelings are so confusing that they can't figure out what is going on inside of them.
With that in mind, here are some of the answers Magavi hears in her sessions:
• Depression feels like a weight on my chest, which brings me down wherever I go.
• Depression is getting compliments at work but still feeling like you're not worth anything.
• Depression is how lonely I feel when I see other couples and families laughing and having a good time.
• Depression is feeling like I'm a failure as a person, family member, and friend.
• I'm depressed when I can't care for my kids because I can't care for myself.
• Depression makes me so weak that I can't even brush my hair or teeth.
• Depression is smiling when everyone else is laughing, hiding behind a mask I made up, and wishing I could just go away.
• Depression is my life and my shadow, and it always follows me around.
It's important to give depressed people a non-clinical point of view.
The shocking things that depressed people said about depression were: for example,
Depression makes my mind feel like a turtle running through chunky peanut butter. This is especially clear when she can't think straight.
When I'm depressed, I feel like I'm drowning in my feelings, and sometimes I feel like I can only breathe through a straw.
Depression is a complicated feeling that can feel like it's too much.
Depression can feel like an old friend who doesn't quite fit, but you know all the ins and outs.
What Kinds of Depression Are There?
Since depression is such a complex disorder, it can be hard to define and diagnose with just one set of general criteria. This is why other categories are used to describe the different kinds of depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that major or clinical depression and persistent depressive disorder are the two most common types of depression.
Major depression is the most common type of depression. It is characterized by having symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, which makes it hard to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life.
Persistent depressive disorder A person is said to have dysthymia if they have had symptoms of depression for at least two years.
Some other types of depression are:
• Prenatal or perinatal depression, which occurs during pregnancy.
•Postpartum depression, which happens after a woman gives birth to a child.
•Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in which depressive episodes come and go with the seasons.
• Psychotic depression, which frequently occurs in conjunction with another type of psychosis,
• PDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.
List of Depression Signs and Symptoms That Cause Painful Feelings
Depression can cause a wide range of mild to severe symptoms, such as:
• Loss of interest or enjoyment in things you used to like to do.
• feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and pessimism (expecting only bad things to occur).
• Sleeping problems.
• Changes in hunger
• Inadequate energy
• Difficulties paying attention, remembering details, or making decisions.
• More aches and pains, headaches, and problems with digestion.
• Not taking care of oneself (not bathing, grooming, etc.).
• Stop doing things with other people.
•Thoughts of dying, killing yourself, or trying to kill yourself
Advice for Family and Friends about depressed person and his negative feelings
If a friend or family member you care about is depressed, you might be wondering if there are things you should look for or listen for. Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and the executive director of Innovation360.
He says the good news is that you don't need to know a lot about how you feel when you're depressed. Instead, just try to be curious about how they feel when they're depressed.
What was his advice? Try to learn enough about it so that you can keep track of the symptoms and look for small signs that your loved one is doing well or is having trouble.
A Note From Verywell
Depression is a serious issue in terms of mental health. Even though symptoms can look different depending on how bad they are, many of the feelings listed above are common.
Still, if you have more than a few symptoms of depression or worry that your symptoms are getting worse, it may be time to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.