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The Symptom of Depression We Don’t Talk About

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You may think you know a lot about depression.

You know people with depression can feel sad and empty much of the time, have changes in appetite or sleeping habits, be fatigued, have decreased feelings of pleasure in things that would normally bring them joy and possibly even have thoughts of death and dying. But the one symptom of depression you probably don’t know about, and one of the hardest ones to deal with, is loneliness.

People thrive on connection. Even most introverts need to be social with small groups or one-on-one. But when I feel depressed, I can’t motivate myself to make or keep plans, to leave the house, or sometimes even to get showered and dressed. But this doesn’t mean I don’t want company. In contrast, I want company so badly it’s
actually painful. But I’m afraid to ask. I know I’m a bother to people, and I
know I’m not any fun to spend time with because I’m always sad and have a hard
time enjoying the things I used to love.

I feel guilty for wanting that company, for needing to have somebody around.

When I get severely depressed, I long for somebody to talk to, somebody who will
understand and not judge me. But I can’t seem to open my mouth and ask for the
help I need. I get trapped in my own brain, and I can hear myself screaming, but, unfortunately, nobody can read my mind. The more depressed I get, the more I isolate from the outside world, and the less motivation I have to reach out to people. But this is really the time I most need someone to see me, truly see what is going on, and reach out to me.

It’s sad the symptoms of depression can drive so many friends away, because of the stigma of depression, or because they don’t understand, or are scared, or don’t know how to help, or are busy and can’t be bothered. Because sometimes the best way to reach a depressed friend or loved one is to simply spend time with him or her, doing whatever he or she feels up to doing. Even if that’s just an evening on the
couch with Netflix, or bringing over coffee or dinner, just showing that you care for your friend can help him or her start to feel better. Even if your friend doesn’t seem to hear your words of reassurance and comfort, there still can be a benefit to your presence. It always helps to know that somebody else cares, to hear love expressed in a genuine way.

Love expressed by other people can help me so much when I’m depressed. It reminds me I’m worthy of such love, and can push me a little bit closer to working on the self-love that will pull me out of the depression. So if you do have a friend or loved one who is depressed, please remember, it is so important to spend time with him or her. Depression is a disease of loneliness, and connection with other people makes all the difference in recovery.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

What’s one misconception about your mental illness you want to see busted? Tell us in the comments below.

Originally published: May 10, 2016
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