What is it Like to Have Depression?
For people diagnosed with the condition, explaining depression can be an arduous process. The nature of depression itself can make the condition and its associated symptoms challenging to put into words. Simply put, living with depression can make it impossible to explain what depression feels like.
If you know what it’s like to have depression, you’ll understand how descriptions of depression vary from person to person. Some feel an overwhelming sense of sadness; others describe feeling empty, demotivated, and lethargic. It seems depression and anxiety show different symptoms from person to person.
In this post, we discuss how it feels to be depressed, addressing questions like, ‘what is it like to be depressed?’ and describing what it feels like to have depression.
What is Depression?
When explaining depression we should start with a definition of this medical illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, it can be defined as a common and severe medical condition that negatively affects how you think, act, and feel.
How to Explain Depression
Depression can be explained as a mood disorder that causes a loss of interest and a persistent feeling of sadness. Also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, this condition affects how you behave, leading to a variety of physical and emotional problems.
When living with depression, you could have trouble performing day-to-day tasks, and sometimes it may seem like life is no longer worth living.
Explaining depression can be difficult as it differs in severity, symptoms, and duration depending on the individual. That said, it’s more than just a period of sadness, and it’s something that people can’t just shake off as and when they please. Luckily, medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both can help manage and cure symptoms of depression.
Symptoms and Signs of Depression
Symptoms of depression can be mild or severe and can include:
- Having a depressed mood or feeling sad
- Weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping too much or trouble sleeping
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Lack of energy or increased fatigue
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Inability to sit still, handwringing, pacing, or slowed movements and speech
- Thoughts of suicide and death
To be medically diagnosed as depression, these symptoms must persist for at least two weeks and must represent a change in your level of functioning prior to diagnosis.
Depression vs. Sadness
The ending of a relationship, loss of a job, or death of a loved one can be challenging experiences to overcome. It’s perfectly natural for feelings of grief or sadness to develop as a response to these life-changing situations. People who experience such loss may think that they are depressed.
However, feeling sad is very different from having depression. That said, the grieving process is natural and different for every individual, sometimes sharing similar symptoms as depression. Both depression and grief can involve intense feelings of sadness and withdrawal from everyday activities.
They are different in the following ways:
- During periods of grief, painful feelings tend to come in waves and are often mixed with positive memories of the deceased. In clinical depression, mood, interest, and motivation are decreased for two weeks or more.
- In grief, self-esteem is typically maintained. However, during significant bouts of depression, feelings of insecurity and self-loathing are quite common.
- During grief, thoughts of suicide or death may surface when fantasizing about ‘joining’ the dead loved one. During clinical depression, thoughts of suicide can dominate your thinking as feelings of worthlessness persist for weeks on end.
Although depression and grief can co-exist, many people say that depression feels like it will never end, whereas grief tends to ease over time. That said, when depression and grief co-occur, grief can feel even more severe and last longer than it would without depression.
How to Cope with Depression
Explaining depression and coping with its symptoms may be easier if you implement some of the following steps:
Create a Regular Routine
If you create a routine and stick to it, you’ll be less likely to stay in bed all day. A routine will hold you accountable to responsibilities and help you concentrate on tasks that, ideally, will distract you from your depression.
Regular exercise is one of the best things that you can do for both your body and mind. Exercising can make you feel better, look better, and live a longer, healthier life.
Work with a Therapist
Seeking professional counseling can help to identify the root causes of your depression and develop coping strategies.
Use a Journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings every day can help you identify common themes and patterns in your depression. Working with your therapist, you can plot out healthy habits and gratitude lists, which can be used to improve your mood and well being.
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