What Depression Feels Like to a Sufferer

Depression Sufferer
Photo Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Headlines sell newspapers and news site clicks whenever they announce that celebrities or large groups of people are experiencing depression. The issue fascinates the public. That fascination is a mixture of curiosity, vicarious experience, and the “I need to know if I’m depressed” urgency that a person senses when they feel down. The curiosity and sense of personal pressure can be addressed with a simple definition of depression: Depression feels like the future holds no hope.

One day after the other seems to be the same dreary set of circumstances to depressed people. Joy is absent. So are self-esteem and a sense of energy, let alone the motivation to do anything. A mental illness, depression interrupts sleep cycles, appetites and the ability to focus on tasks. Forgetfulness is problematic, as are inexplicable aches and pains, nausea, lethargy and a pervasive sense of dread. Depressed people tend to think about death and suicide. They might even consider causing harm to themselves.  Issues of personal guilt might be involved. The potential for suffering one or more of the above mindsets is different for various depressed people, though. Symptoms are not a One-Size-Fits-All issue. They can even differ among men and women.

Depression lasts longer than sadness, which tends to pass as life proceeds with its ever-changing priorities, with evolving circumstances and with time. Depression is a long-lasting situation that can happen at any age. Babies over 6 months old who’ve lost a parent or other steady caregiver are known to experience depression. Older children can feel depression, especially if they are vulnerable in dysfunctional families or school situations, or being bullied. Teens struggling with peer pressure and academic demands can feel depressed. Adults have an endless supply of reasons for depression.

Depressed people tend to need medication, mental health therapy plus exercise to end their continually negative thinking patterns. Medical intervention can let the depressed person have some respite from incessantly negative thoughts in order to refocus on upbeat, productive behaviors and thoughts that lead them out of depression. Not every depressed person needs medical help, however. Only people whose level of depression calls for medical intervention receive such prescriptions.

Therapy with an insightful, compassionate counselor can provide insights for seeing life differently, in a neutral light rather than a blame-focused point of view. It helps the depressed person to consider solutions and to develop the courage to pursue them.

Specific feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are created when we exercise or simply go about our daily tasks. When those happiness-inducing substances increase, a depressed person will feel their misery lessening or ending. That reality, along with the results of effective mental health therapy and the restored sense of perspective which results from it, tends to help depressed people past their depression and into long-term resilience plus happiness. They are better able to flow with life, finessing issues rather than succumbing to them.

There are no instant solutions to depression. Effective treatment for depression is a process that calls for compassion and patience from the people in a depressed person’s life. They simply don’t have other options for recovering from depression. It’s not their choice, it is a given.

One comment

  1. Yocheved this is a very moving post. Having suffered from depressions for years due to a very abusive childhood, I can tell you that this article is spot on. I have been in therapy and must take anti-depressants for the rest of my life, but I work at staying happy. I exercise for the reasons you mentioned and reach out to encourage other women suffering from this horrific illness. With me I didn’t feel sad as much as under tremendous stress with a few panic attacks here and there to make life interesting. (I try to keep a sense of humor. I’ve often joked with close friends that had I been born 200 years ago, I’d have been the witch of the village!) You astound me with your understanding of medical conditions that I’m not sure you’ve ever suffered from. Thank you for this marvelous post!

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