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The Complex Answer to 'What Does Depression Feel Like?'


This question comes up a lot. Doctors and psychiatrists, as well as friends and family, want to know what depression feels like. I never really know what to tell them. The answer would need to be updated hourly, at least for me, because that is how often my mood seems to change.

The other day I decided to take a stab at it and try my best to explain what my depression felt like, that day, and this is what I came up with.

Today my depression feels like I can’t breathe or think or eat, but lying in bed might be all right.

Today it feels like even though I had a nice day, I am now in bed and thinking of how it feels like no amount of good days can make this worth it

Today it feels like this is never going to end and no medication or treatment could possibly ever help.

Today feels like rain because the severity of my depression seems to change with the weather.

Today feels like I want to throw away all my meds or just take them all, and I really can’t decide which.

Today feels like I am alone and no one could possibly understand this feeling, so I won’t talk about it.

This, is how my depression feels today.

Had you asked me that same question three hours ago, I would have told you how my depression was this morning, and this would have been the answer:

This morning, my depression is manageable.

This morning, I ate breakfast.

This morning, I smiled on my way out the door and took a 40-minute nature walk on my way to work.

This morning, I felt light, like I didn’t have too much to think about.

This morning, for a brief moment, I forgot I have depression.

That is the answer to what depression feels like — a constant roller coaster of feelings that changes so fast it is almost impossible to keep track of.

What this has taught me is that there is almost zero relationship between the things that happen in a day and my mood.

I often get told I should be happy because I had a good day.

Unfortunately, this does not mean a good night. Or a good next day. Or even a good next five minutes.

I can have bad things happen and deal with them as anyone else who is not depressed would, and move on with my day.

I can have an amazing day and feel like it was the hardest day of my life by the end of it.

Moments and feelings are not always related. My depression is too smart to only attack when something bad happens. This means I need to accept the fact that I am stuck on this roller coaster and to remember every fall is followed by a rise back up.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


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