What depression feels like

post by Si Martin

October, 05 2022

5 mins read

If you’ve never experienced it, it can be hard to understand just what depression feels like. If you’ve been through it yourself, you know it sucks. It’s the actual worst. Depression can feel different for different people, so we asked our audience what depression feels like for them. So if you’re trying to get your head around what it might be like to experience depression, this might give you a bit of an insight.

Depression feels like.. “A constant state of tiredness and irritability”

One of the symptoms of depression is fatigue; feeling really run down and tired. Depression affects the neurotransmitters in your brain

Even if you’ve never experienced depression yourself, you can probably relate to feeling proper tired after a long day. But the difference here is that if you’re just tired, you can solve it by having a good nights sleep. With depression, the fatigue that comes along with it doesn’t go away after a sleep. It can leave you feeling tired for long periods of time. And of course, the more tired you feel, the more irritable you can feel, which can just feed into something of a spiral of you feeling low, and struggling to sleep.

If you’re feeling tired/irritable from depression

Ok, this is gonna sound like “have you tried just not being depressed?” so let’s start by saying this is just small steps to give yourself the best shot to help yourself out, not a “cure”. But giving yourself a good routine each night, avoiding screens & caffeine right before bed, and creating a cosy, quiet & calm space in your room might help you get a good nights sleep. We’ve written about getting a good night’s sleep in the past. 👇👇

It’s also the case that exercising and getting your body moving (even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing; I know it is for me..!) can help to wear you out more throughout the day, so that when it’s time to rest at night, your body gets the signal that it’s time to switch off, and help set you up for feeling a bit more refreshed in the morning.

A quick note here. If you’re already on antidepressants, there’s a chance that the fatigue you’re experiencing is a side effect from the antidepressants, so it’s always worth talking to a medical professional about it.

Depression feels like.. “the absence of feeling”

This is such an important point when it comes to understanding what depression feels like. Often, depression gets depicted as feeling sad, and low in mood. But it’s also very common for it to just feel like a total lack of feeling anything at all. Just kinda.. “meh”. Or numb. Depression’s a real son-of-a-gun. It just robs you of all joy, and motivation to do stuff. It means that you end up not getting happiness out of the stuff you used to enjoy. Sometimes cuz you just can’t bring yourself to do it; sometimes cuz you do it and just continue to feel “eh”. This can really suck, since you then just feel like you can’t enjoy anything – even the stuff you feel you “should” love.

Side note

I was talking to someone about writing this post. They described how much depression sucks, but that on the bright side, at least there are dogs in the world. This is very true. So to help break up this post, here is a picture of a sleeping puppy.

If you’ve got that absence of feeling

That numb feeling is something that comes up a lot when we’re doing our workshops talking about self-harm. There’s a couple of things you could try, and they’re kinda opposites of each other. And again, these aren’t something that’s gonna solve all of your problems, but they’re worth a try.

Option 1:

You could try doing something to give you some sort of feeling. I’m talking cold showers or biting into something like a lemon or ginger, or even just holding ice cubes (but be careful doing that!). Doing something intense like that can kinda “kickstart” your brain. Think of it like a hard reset; when you turn your phone off & on again to make it work again.

Option 2:

Rather than trying to force an intense feeling, just be gentle with yourself. Sometimes you’re not feeling those highs of happiness, but also not really feeling those super deep lows too. So actually just keeping yourself safe – maybe wrapping yourself up in a duvet and making sure you’re able to ride out this lack of feeling – could be a short term solution.

But here’s the thing

Whatever depression feels like for you, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone about it. I know, I know, sometimes you just don’t want to. Maybe you’re not sure how, or you’ve had a bad experience in the past. But legit. The more you talk about it, the easier it becomes to manage it. If you just keep it to yourself, it’s easy to fall into that negative cycle and spiral.

That might mean speaking to a professional – a doctor or a helpline. We can help you with that! Hit the button below to check out a bunch of options of places to get help from!

But maybe you’re here & reading this because you know someone with depression and you want to understand what depression feels like for them. If you’re here because you’re trying to learn how to support a friend, then you rock. And honestly, just being there can be so so helpful. Maybe they’re feeling that lack of feeling, maybe they’re feeling run down & irritable, or maybe it’s something totally different for them. But just being there, asking them how to understand & be there for them can mean the whole world to them.

And oh my days, be patient as well! Just from the few thoughts above you might’ve gathered that it can be real hard to live with depression. But with a lot of patience and support from you (but also be prepared to step back, or accept they’d prefer support from someone else too!) depression doesn’t have to take over their lives.

I’ll leave you with one of the iconic song lyrics that kinda kickstarted HATW, and sums up perfectly the attitude to take when it comes to understanding what depression feels like.

It’s not about forcing happiness; it’s about not letting sadness win.

While you’re here!

If you found this helpful, we’d love your help to keep on making more helpful content! The best way to support HATW is to grab some of our merch with a message. It means you get a fresh new look, and we get to keep on fighting for young people’s mental health.

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