Severe depression is devastating. I can’t tell you exactly what depression feels like for everyone but I can explain what it feels like for me. I hope it helps those with depression feel understood. For those who know someone with these issues maybe it will help you understand them better.
What does depression feel like
Everyone has different symptoms some are emotional and some physical. Usually, those suffering from depression have both. I have experienced both and not for a day. This isn’t just a sad day or few days this is months of torture. Some may think my description of depression is overdramatic but I don’t believe I can ever fully express in words the true overwhelming despair of severe depression.
How it feels mentally
Most understand those who are depressed feel sad. It is more than just feeling a little sad and it will get better in a day or two. It is persistent feelings of sadness, loneliness, numbness, anxiety, and disinterest. The intensity of the feelings varies from day to day but it lasts for weeks, months, or even years.
Depression and anxiety tend to go hand in hand. When I start feeling sad or down my anxiety increases. I avoid people and look for reasons not to go out into public. I occasionally get panic attacks.
My anxiety is a sign something is wrong. It lets me know I am slipping toward depression. This is the most visible sign. As unpleasant as the anxiety is, it is one of the mildest symptoms.
Losing interest in the things you love:
Usually, the next stage for me is when I lose interest in things I used to enjoy. Nothing sounds fun anymore. I don’t care about hanging out with friends or family. I isolate myself even more than when I am only anxious.
Every small thing feels like a huge chore. Brushing my hair or teeth can sound overwhelming. Cleaning, showering, cooking, or going to work are just things I feel incapable of doing. When the house gets messy everything starts to slide. The mess makes me feel more anxious. The more anxious I get the more flustered I get the more trouble I have cleaning.
I don’t want to be around anyone and I begin to get bitter. I make excuses to myself about why I don’t want to be around people. They don’t like me or care anyway why would I want to do something with them? Can’t invite people over anyway the house is a mess.
Things I loved to do now feel like chores. Actual chores feel impossible and draining. This tends to push me into the loneliness stage of thinking no one cares about me.
No one cares and I am all alone:
Once I start to feel this way all I can think is everyone lies. People say they care but who is ever there when you really need someone? Yes, I get it. It sounds like a toddler throwing a tantrum yelling that no one likes them.
But when you feel truly alone and isolated it is terrifying. I feel as if I am a burden to my family and friends. At this stage, I begin to think they are better off without me and shouldn’t have to deal with me being sad.
If someone is helping me they are only doing it out of obligation. This feeling gets me the most. Even today I have a hard time truly accepting there may be someone who really cares and wants to help. I am used to being the caregiver, not the other way around.
I have a hard time accepting that even a doctor or therapist truly wants to help. Going to the doctor hasn’t been a great experience for me. I got medication but no real help. Medication can be helpful. But it defiantly didn’t work for me.
This stage is rough for me. When I am here I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt there is no hope. Things will not get better. I am a horrible burden to everyone who knows me. They would be much better without me.
There is no point in existing. No one truly cares. I am doing no good in the world. If I was gone no one would notice and they would be better off.
These are not just passing thoughts when the overwhelming sadness takes over… These thoughts feel like facts, and not random thoughts.
This is a scary time. Why would I want to live life with this torture? The thought of not existing sounds like relief. If you have ever felt like this get help. Do you know of someone who may be here? Talk to them, and encourage them to get help.
Talk to a counselor, doctor, or therapist. I really suggest finding a good therapist. Talk to someone who can actually help.
Friends and family may be able to help point you in the right direction but they are not trained. They will probably say all the wrong things. I have heard things like “just smile more, give it time, try going for a walk, think of the good, what do you even have to be sad about anyway” way too many times… Thanks, your suggestion fixed everything I am cured now.
First, I feel overwhelming emotion, and then the numbness sets in. This stage makes it hard to function. I am similar to a mindless zombie when I am up and attempting to do things.
Sure I am not feeling overwhelming sadness but also I can’t feel happiness, contentment, or joy. On mild days I can function but avoid interaction with people as much as possible.
When the numbness gets too bad it is a weird feeling. I have felt almost detached from the world. I think my brain broke for a bit. Sitting on the floor with no desire to get up or do anything.
Not crying no shaking just nothing. No real sense of time and I could sit and stare at nothing for hours. For me, the only thing that brought me out of these stages… episodes… not sure what to call it, was my dog. He sat on my lap and lean against my chest. He sat with me for hours until I would get up and started to function again.
The strange detached uncaring numb feeling is by far the worst. Because this stage is so extreme I truly have no suggestion for how to fix this for someone else. So unless you have an awesome dog to sit with you for hours and not move, get yourself some help before this part.
Physical symptoms of depression
I feel like an idiot some days. Comprehending even simple things was hard. I lost things, forgot what I was doing, unable to finish a sentence. Reading or even watching TV is hard because I couldn’t focus and had no idea what is going on.
Some people sleep more and some like me have a really hard time sleeping. Not sleeping makes everything worse. I have tried melatonin, medication, sleepy-time teas, and supplements but nothing is a magic bullet. Some things helped a little but sleeping was always a struggle.
This ranges greatly. I first feel as if I can’t eat. Then I am craving every comfort food ever. It makes it hard to eat healthily and take care of yourself.
When feelings of hopelessness take over and your life is a worthless mess, eating leftover cake for breakfast sounds like a great idea. I think maybe eating the cake will give me a few moments of happiness. Then I find out it’s a lie, I going to be sad the whole time eating the cake too.
Between not eating healthy and not sleeping I have zero energy. I feel exhausted and just wanted to sit. There are days getting out of bed was an accomplishment, but forget about brushing my hair or teeth. Getting dressed was out of the question pajama day it is.
This one annoys me. It’s my head that is messed up why do I ache everywhere? I would also get frequent headaches and my stomach would hurt. Also, there were times I would feel nauseous.
I don’t understand why mental pain has to turn into physical pain but it does.
The Downward Spiral
When you have a ton of these symptoms at once it is easy to see how life can turn into a downward spiral. Because so many symptoms increase the severity of other symptoms it becomes hard to break that cycle.
The idea of trying to find a way out of the situation is overwhelming. Getting help is a great idea. But for me, I knew I would never try asking for help again since it didn’t work one time. I know, terrible reasoning but that’s my silly reasoning. Taking small steps toward getting better helped me. Try setting some small goals but don’t have crazy goals that are unattainable. Set small, very small goals to help get yourself out of depression.
What causes depression?
For me, I think it’s a mix of genetics and life situations. I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. Before I even truly realized what it was. I remember telling my parents I felt really sad and that things didn’t feel ok (kid version of anxiety) a lot when I was a kid.
Being the youngest and having parents with a “walk it off your fine” attitude I got told I was fine and to get over it. Think of happy things because I had nothing to be sad or worried about anyway. In fact, my parents had it much worse so what was I complaining about?
There were also times when I would feel the brain fog as a kid and have a harder time than normal understanding what my parents or someone were saying. I would often get in trouble and they would get angry and tell me to knock it off and stop having an “attitude”. The sadness didn’t go away but I definitely stopped telling anyone I felt sad.
My parents are wonderful people and I had a great childhood. It’s just that they didn’t realize how bad I felt because they didn’t have those feelings as a kid. They had no idea how to handle the situation.
As I got older my anxiety and depression got worse but I learned not to annoy anyone by telling them.
Other triggers for depression and anxiety
- Illness – Chrocin diseases and pain issues can cause depression and anxiety.
- Life situations – big changes in life or bad situation can be a big cause. Deaths or abuse can have a drastic effect on someone’s mental state.
- Alcohol or drugs – Abuse of drugs or alcohol or even some prescriptions can make people more prone to depression or anxiety.
- Hormone changes – puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or starting a hormone medication can be a trigger.
Places to get help
Asking for help is not a weakness. I like to suggest finding a therapist who specializes in depression and anxiety. If you need medication your therapist can possibly suggest a good doctor.
Taking medications shouldn’t be a guessing game. There are many doctors that prescribe out of convenience and not truly talking to their patients to find out what may be the best option.
If you don’t want to go in person there are places online that you can try. It’s not crazy expensive but it’s still another monthly expense. But your mental health is worth it.
I tried asking for help from my doctor once and ended up on medication immediately. I got the impression the doctor thought I was fine and that medication would be good enough. The meds didn’t help and ended up making a bunch of my hair fall out so I stopped and didn’t go back.
Natural health is a love of mine. I have had better results with that than many prescription drugs for a variety of health issues. Prescription medications are not bad and sometimes necessary but if I can avoid them I will.
I am writing articles on natural ways to help with depression and anxiety. These are things I have tried and that have helped me but they are not magic and it takes time and effort to improve. Also, some of these strategies can be used alongside medication and therapy to make everything more effective.
Here are things that have helped me:
Learning how to meditate to help depression
Why I am writing about depression
First I love the idea of having all my strategies in one place that I can reference. Researching this topic and ways to improve depression will hopefully help not just me but anyone who comes across this website.
I want people to know that even if they are depressed they are not crazy, lazy, or worthless. Those feelings will bounce around in your head but they are wrong.
Pain, fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog are real symptoms and not just something you are making up. But there is hope and ways to start improving your health that is simple, free, and you can start today.
If you have gone through depression or are experiencing it right now I would love to hear about your experience. Also, if there are things that make the symptoms better or worse. Please leave a comment about it. Your comment could help someone else or help someone understand better.
For those who don’t have depression, I hope this gives you a little understanding of what some people go through. It is more than a day or two of sadness, this is weeks, months, and sometimes even years of struggle. I hope this can help you recognize signs of depression and anxiety and help them or encourage them to get help.