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What It’s Like Inside a Depressed Person’s Head

Headshot of depressed woman

While not everyone’s experience is the same, when people have a major depressive episode, generally the world looks, feels and is understood completely differently than before and after the episode. During a major depressive episode, the world literally seems like a dark place. What was beautiful may look ugly, flat, or even sinister. The depressed person may believe loved ones, even their own children, are better off without them. Nothing seems comforting, pleasurable, or worth living for. There’s no apparent hope for things ever feeling better, and history is rewritten and experienced as confirmation that everything has always been miserable, and always will be.

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When this reality shift happens, it’s difficult to remember or believe what seemed normal before the episode. What the person believes during the episode seems absolutely real, and anything that conflicts with it is as unbelievable as a memory or message telling him or her that the sky is purple. For example, if the person is unable to feel love for a spouse, and someone reminds the person that he or she used to feel that love, the person may firmly believe he or she had been pretending to himself/herself and others—though at the time he or she really felt it. The person can’t remember feeling the love, and can’t feel it during the episode, and thus concludes he or she never felt it. The same process happens with happiness and pleasure. Attempts to tell the person that he or she used to be happy, and will feel happy again, can cause the person to feel more misunderstood and isolated because he or she is convinced it’s not true.

Even if nothing was wrong before the episode, everything seems wrong when it descends. Suddenly, no one seems loving or lovable. Everything is irritating. Work is boring and unbearable. Any activity takes many times more effort, as if every movement requires displacing quicksand to make it. What was challenging feels overwhelming; what was sad feels unbearable; what felt joyful feels pleasureless—or, at best, a fleeting drop of pleasure in an ocean of pain.

Major depression feels like intense pain that can’t be identified in any particular part of the body. The most (normally) pleasant and comforting touch can feel painful to the point of tears. People seem far away—on the other side of a glass bubble. No one seems to understand or care, and people seem insincere. Depression is utterly isolating.

There is terrible shame about the actions depression dictates, such as not accomplishing anything or snapping at people. Everything seems meaningless, including previous accomplishments and what had given life meaning. Anything that had given the person a sense of value or self-esteem vanishes. These assets or accomplishments no longer matter, no longer seem genuine, or are overshadowed by negative self-images. Anything that ever caused the person to feel shame, guilt, or regret grows to take up most of his or her psychic space. That and being in this state causes the person to feel irredeemably unlovable, and sure everyone has abandoned or will abandon him or her.

It’s difficult to describe all of this in a way that someone who’s never experienced it can make sense of it. I can’t emphasize enough that when this happens, what I am describing is absolutely the depressed person’s reality. When people try to get the person to look on the bright side, be grateful, change his or her thoughts, or meditate, or they minimize or try to disprove the person’s reality, they are very unlikely to succeed. Instead, they and the depressed person are likely to feel frustrated and alienated from one another. I do believe cognitive therapy has an important place, but generally not in the throes of a major depressive episode.

So what does a person whose reality has shifted in this way need? Please keep in mind that I am talking about a major depressive episode—severe depression that has lasted more than two weeks. I would take a different approach for someone with milder depression, or one that is a response to a terrible loss. For some people in a major depression, medication works and is the only thing that works. The same could be said for electric shock treatment, though it’s not for everyone. Many people will emerge from major depression in time, though episodes seem to make more episodes more likely, so if medication works to end the episode, it’s usually prudent to take it. Nutrition, acupuncture, and other body-based treatments can help without the side effects of medication.

Loved ones can gently hold and show love and commitment to the depressed person, try not to take on the person’s reality, but also not argue with him or her about it. They can also gently remind the person that depression causes his or her perspective on everything to change, and he or she is unable to think outside of depression mode at the moment. It is a time for the person to avoid making decisions, or avoid doing anything significant that requires a nondepressed perspective. If this is a repeated experience for this person, it can be helpful to discuss all of this between episodes so he or she is more prepared when caught in the quicksand.

© Copyright 2013 by Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT, therapist in El Cerrito, CA. All Rights Reserved.

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  • Michelle January 11th, 2013 at 7:30 AM #1

    Well said. This is the first article I’ve read that truly explains how depression affects a large number of people. This needs to replace the outdated information available in mental health clinics and doctors offices.

    Thank you.

  • Kath January 11th, 2013 at 9:05 AM #2

    I’ve never heard of going into a depressive episode described as
    “being sucked into quicksand” before.
    That is a perfect analogy.

  • samson January 11th, 2013 at 9:50 AM #3

    I never imagined about depression so deeply..Often we throw around the word “depressed” quite easily but from what I have read here,most of the things we use the word for don’t even deserve it..Not every little sorrow or negative feeling is depression and I believe that should be a reason we should be happy with our lives and glad for every positive thing we have!

  • Purple Dreamer January 11th, 2013 at 10:30 AM #4

    I second what Michelle said. This so clearly explains what it is like in the middle of a major depressive episode, I hope that many people read this so they can finally catch a glimpse of what it is like. The worst part? Knowing the episode will end, but not knowing when that end will come.

    Thank you for this post!

  • Judi January 11th, 2013 at 11:56 AM #5

    I love this. It makes us aware that there are others experiencing the same feelings. But this refers to depressive episodes which I have not usually encountered. My depression is constant with periods of relief that come from intense focus on a project or problem that needs fixing.

  • BoP January 11th, 2013 at 12:20 PM #6

    Thanks for putting how I feel into words – it helps.

  • Edwina January 11th, 2013 at 1:25 PM #7

    Brilliant description. As a chronic sufferer I find glimpses of hope in relating to the experiences of others like this. This reinforces how real the pain is, and, that it is not our fault.
    When the grounds beneath your feet are akin to being in quicksand, all that you cared for remains elsewhere, beyond you on stable ground, along with your better senses. The “normal” view of things has no place when you are in fact, flailing (mentally) and sliding in. Its an appropriate time to start thinking the worst is going to happen…oh, that’s right…that’s exactly what we do!

  • Holistic Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy - Los Angeles January 11th, 2013 at 3:22 PM #8

    This is partly due to a linguistic confusion. In everyday life people say, “I am depressed,” when they mean, “I am unhappy,” or “I am sad,” or “I am frustrated,” or all three! All of those need to have “about?” or “because” etc. added to them as an inquiry by the therapist, to clarify, elucidate and conceptualize what is transpiring. A depressed mood, where the person becomes submerged in negative feelings/perceptions is Depression with a capital D. As a reaction to mainly current events, it too can usually be converted to its component parts and resolved. Longer term Major Depression often has deep roots, and more components, which may vary greatly in my experience. Intractable long term Major Depression sometimes includes a subconscious attachment or “addiction” to this state of being as a coping mechanism, though of course no one would consciously choose such a painful process. I have in addition dealt with this as a method of subconscious self-punishment for guilty “sins.” I have come across mentions of the latter in psychological literature also.

  • Patrick January 12th, 2013 at 2:21 AM #9

    So true, exactly my twisted reality. I think i’ve been depressed since my early teens with episodes of “not so” depressed. I have completely isolated myself and I am thinking of suicide every day. The only reason why I cant do it is my mother for now, but im telling myself, as soon as she passes away, I’ll do it. Like the article says, I am convinced that nobody gives a F*** about me, I only bring them down from their blue and pink little clouds. I literally hate having happy people around me, they annoy me soooooooo much, and I hate people with alot of money. Even after reading the article numerous times, a real major depressed man like me, I still think like it was described in the article, IT IS stronger than you when your are in neck high. I really cant shake this, even if you’d try to beat it out of me. I am not feeling better, but thanks for trying.

  • Cynthia January 15th, 2013 at 1:05 AM #10

    I’m so glad so many feel understood by my description, because I don’t think most people understand, even if they are experiencing it, and especially if they never have. I don’t mean this to be a treatment. If you feel like this, please find a good therapist and get help. As Patrick says, it’s not something you can shake, or will away.

  • StephAnie January 16th, 2013 at 9:24 AM #11

    I’ve made some progress, for lack of a better term, up from when I was first diagnosed with depression. This description brings tears to my eyes because of its accuracy.

  • Clara January 16th, 2013 at 10:07 AM #12

    Wow. I have this happen to me often, have been diagnosed with major depression-but had no idea why I was thinking suicidal thoughts at certain times & not others. My best friend & I since high school have been depressed, but at times have wondered what’s wrong with everybody else!!!!! It becomes such a huge part of who you are, that you think it’s just your personality. I am totally in shock right now, realizing I’ve been have major depression episodes, yet wondering what my Psychaitrist sees in me that makes him believe I need to take anti-depressants. Is it normal that it seems worse every time it happens?? It also makes me feel like I don’t belong anywhere because almost nobody I know understands, so I feel like I’m always pretending to be someone I’m not. I always say I’m feeling great, because that’s all anyone can handle. I really wish I was just normal. Life would be so much easier…

  • Trish January 16th, 2013 at 1:01 PM #13

    I agree with all the comments, this is the best description I’ve seen. Like StephAnie, it brought tears to my eyes. It’s lethargy on steroids; hopelessness and feeling unworthy of well, anything good… The lack of drive or initiative only contributes to feeling worse as I look around and realize another day has gone by and I’ve accomplished exactly zero percent of what I wanted or planned to do. Intellectually I know it can’t last forever, but that knowledge is meaningless.
    If an episode is triggered by an event, and decisions have to be made, is it recommended to seek a different kind of help, away from typical psychological help? if you leave decisions to me, they just wont get made. is there such a thing as getting support with decisions that is more directive? If anyone has thoughts on this I would be grateful.
    Wonderful post, thank you for writing it.

  • Sara January 16th, 2013 at 8:14 PM #14

    It took me 20 years to move from my 1st depressive episode to writing what it felt like. At the end of 2012, I am finally over my mother’s death in 1976. It’s baby steps for me to climb out of sadness and loss. I go to therapy, I made my own affirmations for survival, prayer, and the latest on courage. Each of them are in mini photo books. I embellished them to be uplifted and positive. I read them every day. “I have courage to step up. It is natural to me.” “Everybody, even me, is doing the best they can.” “I know who to call and I know how to get help.” These are examples of my affirmations. It bothered me when a friend would ask me how I was and I said I was depressed. She said I was bored. Then she got depression and knew it wasn’t boredom. Someday I hope to see my daughter. I think about her all the time. Great description of Depression. Thank you, Sara

  • Lisa January 17th, 2013 at 7:37 PM #15

    I have read many articles and books on depression but this piece hit home – I used to think depression was my personal agony & I would never be ‘normal’. After 18 years of medication & exercise, physchologists etc. I am coping. I have given up hoping for inner peace or happines but I am getting through each day without hoping I would die. I am thankful for that. Thanks Cynthia.

  • Jen Fletcher January 18th, 2013 at 3:19 PM #16

    The most helpful words I’ve ever read about depression.
    A priceless tool .
    I really mean it – such a help!
    “Rewriting history”really hits home & proves that one is “of unsound mind” when in the throes of depression.
    Thank you so very much for this…..

  • Betty January 18th, 2013 at 7:07 PM #17

    Yes, this is an accurate description. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for more than 50 years. Major depression paints your current and past life with dark colors. I have not always been sad and depressed, but in depression all the happy or average times seem fake. Sometimes there is a root cause for depression that is desperately repressed and denied and will make you feel that you are living a lie while just waiting to die. My life was like that until recently when I was more or less cornered by my own insights and circumstances to face some realities that I had refused to deal with my whole life. I had never acknowledged the intensity of my feelings of unworthiness and shame which began at age 6, but instead wore a “mask” of confidence and an “armor” of courage. It got me through 53 years of functioning at a fairly high level with manageable symptoms but finally it failed me when a combination of life challenges proved greater than my acting abilities/coping skills. After 28 years I retired from my job on a mental disability as well as from life. The past 13 1/2 years have amounted to scraping myself off the floor and making feeble efforts to put up with life. Sometimes a person’s life really IS tragic and that reality is too awful to take in until you know it’s almost over. I don’t know if I could have dealt with such feelings as a young person knowing a lifetime was ahead of me. But now, I know that the fact that I am 66 and still here is a testament to a battle well fought and not lost. My fears and self recriminations are gone and its okay, in fact good to be me. I turned to God in desperation and He woke my spirit up. I was able to take another look at myself with His grace, able to credit myself for refusing to give up in the face of unbearable pain, able to forgive the other people and myself for attitudes and actions that added to my burdens. Now, even though its very late in life to finally have this understanding, it would have been a total tragedy to have passed through without the peace that fills my soul today, which makes the journey meaningful. I hope some of you will consider Christ as your Healer. Medications and counseling are good, but sometimes you need a refuge that is spiritual to really have the courage to be truthful. When you open your heart with His help, love comes in and poison leaves. There is no greater resolution. God bless you all.

  • Jen January 18th, 2013 at 8:43 PM #18

    Quite an amazing testimony.Sixty years of pain ,repression & denial.
    Now you can at last say “It’s good to be me.”
    While I don’t share your Christian beliefs,I do agree that spiritual refuge is invaluable.

  • Dee January 20th, 2013 at 4:05 PM #19

    Never have I had the words I have used repeated back to me verbatim. (Don’t deserve, better off, too good for me, the world would be a better place, no one would care if…)Quicksand, all of it quicksand. That is the most perfect description I have ever heard, and now I don’t feel so “ab”normal. I have been suffering and this article finally turned a light on in my reality that has been trying to glow for so long. Thank you, thank you. To Patrick: I know, I know, hang in there my quicksand commrade, hang in there…..

  • Chari January 22nd, 2013 at 10:09 AM #20

    Amazing and insightful article.

  • Brent January 29th, 2013 at 5:14 PM #21

    Betty, thank you for your comments. I am about where you were at age 53. I am 55. I have had some setbacks that I am having difficulty coming to terms with. I wish not to feel as I do, but I feel as though I am nearly ready to throw in the towel as you did at age 53. I am holding on and am embarrassed by my near admission of this. I wish to express my gratitude to you for your posting and your honesty. I have been seeing Stacey Wood a very kind therapist. She has tried so very hard to help me. I loose myself in my work. It is my cloaking identity, because I have lost my own. I put in a lot of free time because it gives me focus and some kind of direction. I have difficulty however on processing, now as a result of loosing my confidence due to errors in my life. I was a very happy person for nearly 50 years then the reality of who and what I really must be, was fabricated. I took the viewpoint that I was wrong and that I needed to turn off my brain because of my pride. This is where I am now. Straddling, teetering, on trying to be a good man but not prideful. I am not doing well with this journey. This effort to be a kind, real loving person without some self gratifying ego shoring up. I want to be a good man, a real man. A real real man, loving, confident, stable, one others could lean on, but I am not doing too good at getting there. Thank you for your story.

  • Billy February 13th, 2013 at 6:03 PM #22

    I always thought this was the way everyone felt when they were unhappy. I suppose it makes a little more sense now why I had trouble believing the psychiatrist who thought this was one of the problems I had. Still, if this is how depressed people think and feel, then what is it like inside of a “normal” person’s head? It doesn’t really make much sense. For about as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to think of some reason why anything I do matters or what value being alive has. Every day is just subsisting and perpetuating an utterly mundane existence. Therapists have asked why I feel like I do not wish to live, as if I need a reason. I’m tempted to ask them why I should continue living since they feel it is unusual for me not to desire it. In any case, so long as the effort to live and to die remain in life’s favor, I’ll keep on…living, as it were. Until I can do something about that, this sums up the subjective experience fairly well I suppose.

  • jen February 14th, 2013 at 11:51 AM #23

    Yes! What IS it like inside a normal person’s head?
    What IS a “normal” person?
    DO they go into their heads ?

  • Cheyl April 28th, 2013 at 2:10 PM #24

    This is true. The best description on the way you feel I have seen. It is really hard to explain to someone who has not felt this how you think.

  • susan May 8th, 2013 at 8:50 AM #25

    very well expressed. i experienced all these but couldn’t express the feelings this well.

  • perbesh sarki May 17th, 2013 at 11:58 AM #26

    well, i was. in depresssion since my childhood and i always used to pray to god to take away from this earth.
    i was going through deep paranoid, i was having hard time to exist in this world.
    no one loved me and cared for me intead people has abused me and bulllied me, i used to cry everyday.
    Nothing was going right in my life, my esteem was going down and i had a extreMe inferiority.

    But one day i thought and. thought and i tried to learn how to be happy.
    i tried and tried, ua it was very diffilt.
    But i managed and now i m very happy in my life, although everything is not fine in my life but im surely goona make everything fine one day.
    frinds nothing is impossible you just need to work on your problems.
    if there is a will there is a way.
    And be lucky to be in depression because one day if you will be happy in your then you can experience supreme happines of life.
    thank you….

  • SWL June 14th, 2013 at 9:16 PM #27

    From my experiences depression is always a result of things like dependence, fear, trauma, selfishness, addiction and circumstances. Depressed people are in a bad spot, often of their own creation. They are the sort that have lost faith and do not dare to take risks. They never really face themselves and live within a limited range of experience since they do not allow themselves to break free. That is my personal experience with depression; depressed people do not understand that life is temporary and that they have the power to affect it.

  • Law July 5th, 2013 at 8:34 AM #28

    SWL, I commend you for getting to a place where you can say this. If you are truly speaking from experience, your voice deserves to be heard. Good luck

  • Cynthia Lubow, MFT July 5th, 2013 at 2:32 PM #29

    SWL, You are saying some intriguing things, and I’ve re-read your post many times. My first reaction is that it sounds like you’re blaming people for an illness they aren’t responsible for. It is certainly true that we all make choices that make illnesses more or less likely, but we rarely have control over them. Depression is such a varied experience that it can come from many sources. I think the ones you name would be helpful if you could elaborate on them, so we can make use of what you’re saying. In particular, if your view comes from personal experience, tell us more detail about your personal experience with depression resulting from “dependence, fear, trauma, selfishness, addiction and circumstances.” Similarly, what is your personal experience with never really facing yourself, living within a limited range of experience and not allowing yourself to break free? I think all of this could happen, but I think it’s a damaging over-generalization to assume any of this describes all people who experience depression. Specific examples of your own personal experience might be inspiring to others.

  • Heather July 29th, 2013 at 5:12 PM #30

    This is definitely the best description for me. I always say I feel like I’m in a fog. I might show this to people when they tell me they don’t understand or get frustrated. & it makes me feel better to know that its normal to get more mad or frustrated or cry more when people are just trying to understand or help me. It explains why people always act like they give up on me. When really I don’t want arguments, just my husband to calm me down, make me laugh, distract me, cuddle me, tell me its okay or whatever. Trying to reason with me (or rather, the episode) sometimes won’t work.

  • Whocares September 18th, 2013 at 1:27 PM #31

    You know how many people think that I’m bipolar just because the depression subsides for a short bit? Then when it “rains” again, they’re shocked to find my mood has changed -yet- again. No- depression was sifting around all along, in the back of my mind, entrapped in a sort of prison… until its free to wreck havoc on my mind again. Bi-polar people in my experience are generally cheerful. Too cheerful for my liking.

  • Whocares September 18th, 2013 at 2:15 PM #32

    To SWL…

    “depressed people do not understand that life is temporary and that they have the power to affect it.”

    Quite the contrary. I can’t speak for other depressed people, but there is a depression that exists due to realizing just how temporary life truly is. The non-negotiable fact about life is that it’s non-negotiable. We’re all going to die, Status is completely insignificant. Those that do find significance in the meaningless strive for self-gain are the very ones caught up in a lie. Why am I depressed? Because philosophically, existence itself is a psychopathic conception. It doesn’t matter what I think or what you think in this life. Life itself doesn’t care about anyone. The illusion is the rewards people seek. We all think we live a life deserving of some kind of reward because childhood taught us that, graduation taught us that, grandeur achievements taught us that, moving up the latter taught us that… If there is true success in this universe, very few people actually have the sanest idea as to what it is. The power to affect life is simply not to engage in any of its human-bred atrocities. I don’t disagree with depression often being due to a bad creation, however, perception is reality, and that means life is just one completely subjective free-for-all. Everybody has their own canvas with their own colors, free to paint anything in their will. People actually believe that there is a “healthy” type of individual. Healthy is yet another illusion. How do you know that those who created the idea of “mentally healthy”, weren’t also ill themselves? Something humanity cannot come to grips with is that we are -all- ill. Most wont even bother to figure out why or how. While people do have the power to affect life, that doesn’t always mean the integrity is one of good virtue. In my observations of the disgusting human race, people mainly live for themselves first and foremost. Most everyone is too busy to actually care about the meaning of anything, and so they only have time to worry about their immediate concerns. All of this nonsense contributes to a mental illness I had no choice to be part of, you know, depression. I’m isolated from much of the world because I want nothing to do with its corrupted bullshit. Everywhere I go there’s corruption, and if people aren’t “mentally ill”, they’re downright absorbed by their own oblivion. If only they weren’t so oblivious, they’d be mentally ill like the other half of the world’s population. The complete joke is on humanity.

  • Slax October 5th, 2013 at 6:09 PM #33

    I’m so glad I found this. It perfectly describes what I went through. My teenage years were pretty rough and I often felt this way but I always thought it was because of the abuse I was suffering at the time. Then I found someone who treated me like a human being and I genuinely loved him more than I’d ever “loved” anyone before. I could no longer explain why I would have depressive episodes. I tried to get help from my GP but I don’t think she understood, or rather, I couldn’t convey my feelings properly. It got to the point where the only solution I could come up with was suicide. I almost died of a drug overdose. It took me to hit rock bottom to realize I wasn’t thinking like a normal person but I wish there was someone in my life who could have recognized that for me sooner. I’ve shared this article with my partner so that he has a better understanding and maybe will recognize the signs next time (if there ever is a next time). And if I ever go to my GP about it again I will print this out and give it to her and say “this is exactly how I feel”. I can’t imagine ever being like that again though. I honestly feel like I’m a naturally happy person and that I was not me at all during that time. It sort of suggests to me that I have no control and I could become that person again one day and not even realize it. That scares me.

  • Lucy October 27th, 2013 at 7:57 PM #34

    I’ve never heard anyone express the part that is the most shameful for me: that somehow the depression is so familiar now that it’s sometimes hard not to be in the dark. When it comes it’s like a blanket around me. It is the thing that feels the most hopeless, and even when I’m not way down in the pain I can’t believe I will ever change. I’ve been this way since I was 4 or 5. Always hiding the shame. I’m 50 and I still hide. As if I’m not real and the world isn’t either. Just pretend–everything.

  • Cheyenne November 14th, 2013 at 8:43 AM #35

    This describes me perfectly but you forget the part about how when people ask why self harm is an option for you . I have had to describe this feeling to multiple therapists (who never helped and took me off medication because I was “fine” or for me far from it). Self-harming is like making the pain inside of you real , able to see, everything melts away for a while. I was molested by my biological father when I was 7 until I was 12 years old. I became really upset my parents said I was lying and that I just wanted attention that’s when I started self harming. My biological father who just got out of jail (not even prison , lowering my self-esteem again because I think everyone thought I was lying )
    He only got 6 month. I had a few suicide attempt only one my mom knows the other ones I didn’t because I would never be able to leave my little sister with my step-dad (she is 5) I love her more than life she is the only person I care for . I was put in a mental hospital where I was locked away and all alone it felt like what was going on in my head . I got help and was clean for 9 months until last week. What made me relapse my step-dad came into my room and threw me out of bed and then picked me off the grind and threw me into the concrete wall , then last night I told him I was bisexual he grabbed my arm so hard I have bruises where his hand was . Last night was the night I wanted it all gone but then he went into my sisters room and hit her so many times because she took a necklace , she’s 5 she didn’t know better I went and woke her up and he had hurt he so much when she woke up she was still sniffling . I’m scared but to scared to tell anyone , he could get people to believe him over me . I don’t wanna leave my sister and friends but I want all my pain to end . If I don’t get help I’m going to end it .

  • GT Support November 14th, 2013 at 9:24 AM #36

    Thank you for your comment, Cheyenne. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • drea November 15th, 2013 at 9:51 PM #37

    Bullcrap. I’m so sick of this positive thinking fixes everything mantra. I don’t choose to be depressed anymore than my uncle “chose” to get cancer.

    The LAST thing anyone suffering from major depression needs to hear is that “if you only would –think more positive etc– it would go away”

    I have family members who think like you do and it only makes it worse.

  • drea November 15th, 2013 at 9:59 PM #38

    Its such a horrible dense fog to be in. Bills don’t get paid… utilities get shut off…. little things turn into big problems all necause you “don’t care” I can’t explain the extreme way in which you emotionally and physically feel so completely detached from everything. Your words hit home with me… don’t do anything and its only made worse realizing you wasted a whole day not doing it… rinse and repeat forweeks. Hardest part is that family doesn’t seem to understand and instead get angry. When I’m having a depressive episode I suddenly become the most unreliable, forgetful, flakey person on the planet.

  • Cally November 20th, 2013 at 4:09 AM #39

    @whocares.. I think you would make a fantastic writer and blogger.

  • April November 23rd, 2013 at 11:20 PM #40

    Cheyenne, Please get help. Please tell a school counselor or a pastor. If you have a cell phone you may document the evidence of abuse (photograph injuries, bruises) You can even use your phone’s video camera to record audio of him abusing your sister or yourself. You may want to immediately move the photos to a safe place where he wont possibly know about them (then delete them from your phone) I am so sorry you are facing this. I will be praying for you. If it continues and you feel you are in danger you should call the police. God bless you.

  • Rozman December 2nd, 2013 at 5:53 PM #41

    A brilliant explanation.

    I was looking for something or someone who can explain exactly about this thing – I didn’t know how to describe the condition in words myself.

    Thank you very much, Cynthia.

  • Andrew December 9th, 2013 at 12:51 PM #42

    My girlfriend broke up with me for no reason. We were together for 4 months and everything was great. All of a sudden she wants space to get her self help. Says it’s not you it’s me and we need to simmer down. We were both crazy in love. After that she didn’t respond. A few days later I asked her if she wanted me to move on. She said yes and that she didn’t love me. How is that possible in a week. Then I text her about being supportive and I’m always here for her. This is what she writes.
    Ive come to alot of realizations while trapped in my head..i was nvr ready to b in a healthy relationship cuz parts of me r broken n beyond repair..i was in love with love n it tricked me into thinkin i loved u and needed a relationship with a man to feel whole..im sry i ever brought u into my life n involved u in my demented thoughts of love..also im recovering fine..i hope u have a great life ..love does exist just not wit me..there is something greater for u i know it just believe. I responded but heard nothing. What do I do.

  • Sunday December 10th, 2013 at 12:49 PM #43

    I’m feeling the exact same way your girlfriend does, Andrew. And that sucks I’m sorry. All I can say is give her time and if it once was true In her heart than I hope it will be again. Good luck with everything!

  • Andrew December 11th, 2013 at 5:09 AM #44

    She did say she feels like she’s drowning and can barely keep her head above water. Also she feels like she’s crawling in her skin and wants to be left alone and all she wants to do is sleep. I don’t understand how everything was perfect and 2 days later she drops this on me. She won’t answer her phone or text me. I get the feeling she doesn’t care and wants me to move on. I had a connection and so did she that we were meant to be together. We had such an intense connection.

  • Chama December 12th, 2013 at 9:23 PM #45

    Exactly. I’ve had depression since I was about 12. When I was 23, I was living in my favourite city in the world, with my favourite people, and doing what I love best (illustration). I was so happy, and out of nowhere depression hit again. I did my best for 3 months, but ended up moving back with my parents and being unable to work for 2 yrs. I’m now living in the aftermath, the ruined mess of my life since I lost everything I’d worked so hard and happily for. I’m working again, but most days are a battle. I consider myself a naturally optimistic person, my depression is like a smothering shadow.

  • Jan January 29th, 2014 at 9:37 AM #46

    This has happened to my partner. The relationship was so wonderful until… his father (abandonment issues) became very ill and then passed away. He spiraled. He became very distant. Then he said stuff like “I don’t feel ‘in love’ with you”, etc. Left me. Now I can barely get through. His reality is that this is how he’s been feeling. (He was taking anti-depressants when we first started dating – he’d been on them for 2.5 years – and decided to quit them cold turkey 4 months into our 9 month relationship.) Would sending an article like this be helpful? To give him that perspective? Or would it make things worse? I know there’s nothing I can do here until he gets through this, but it’s excruciating at this end.

  • J February 4th, 2014 at 4:12 AM #47

    This article help’s understand I may be facing a depression, for how long is beyond me, my life seems to be a blank and I thought how I was, was normal. I’m finding it really hard to explain what’s going on at the moment to the professionals’ family and friends. I find it easier not to reply to calls and texts. Nonetheless telling my family every day the same things as its all I can think about in my head. This is because I’m so lost I don’t know what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, what I’m saying, not remembering conversations and why I have done the things I have in my life. I feel like I have very limited memories or the capability to move forward. I’m not in a bad place at all and I know people come through a lot harder times then I, which makes this even harder to understand. I just can’t seem to be able to fix this or have any confidence in myself. I am seeing professionals and on medication but neither seem to offer any relief to my mental state of not knowing what to do all the time. I try to explain that I don’t seem to think about what I’m saying and words just come out my mouth and I’m told ‘well you seem to be in control’ I tell them I don’t want to do the things I used to do and don’t know why I ever did them or remember enjoying them or having any feelings. To which I’m told the information I’m sure we all receive which I am sure works for hundreds diet, exercise and socialise. However I never feel hungry just know I have to eat but never know what to eat or find much interest in food, been the gym and it offers no help. I’m not sure I have ever felt any feelings or if I ever will but I’ve got pictures of me laughing and people telling me I did used to enjoy things. I don’t feel I can move forward until I know who I am and what I want, however this seems to be tacking longer and throwing up more problems. ANY HELP sorry it’s so wordy for someone that does not have a clue what to say!!

  • admin2 February 4th, 2014 at 11:06 AM #48

    Hi J,
    Thank you for your comment. If you ever feel like you are in crisis, or you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please seek help as quickly as possible.
    You can do one of the following immediately:

      Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
      Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
      Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    You can find further resources at this page: http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    We wish you the best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • L February 5th, 2014 at 9:51 PM #49

    I’m extremely depressed and a grad student. I tried to make an appointment to see a counselor at my school but they only make same-day appointments, and I was turned away a few times because they were already full by the time I called. What can I do? I can’t afford anything else…any good self-help books to recommend?

  • admin2 February 7th, 2014 at 1:29 PM #50

    Hello L,
    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

      Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
      Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
      Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    You can find further resources on this page: http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
    You can also look for a therapist on GoodTherapy.org via our Advanced Search, here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    We wish you the best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Cynthia Lubow, MFT February 7th, 2014 at 1:54 PM #51

    Wow, that sounds like a funky system. You might look for a clinic run by a grad school that trains therapists–seeing those in training is often inexpensive or free. There are lots of self-help books. If you go to my website (via my GoodTherapy.org profile), you can find mine, which has all the most effective self-help techniques I’ve collected and invented and used over my 30 years of doing psychotherapy and also healing myself.

    Don’t give up–keep reaching out until you get the relief you need!

  • carolyn February 7th, 2014 at 2:51 PM #52


  • luc February 16th, 2014 at 1:27 PM #53

    The problem w/ this and every other psychologist’s description of depression is that it’s unrealistic. Yes, that’s exactly how I feel. But when you’re depressed for years, how exactly do you go about not making any decisions?

    And I know I experienced those things before I was depressed. The problem is I don’t experience them now. Depression has altered my reality, but it’s still reality. I’ve been in therapy for years and was a guinea pig for all kinds of meds for years before that.

    I have had very good therapists, and awful ones. The psychiatrists are the worst of all.

    You need to realize that life is too difficult for your tidy solutions. My depression has ruined everything I’ve ever had, and I’ve gotten myself in horrible places financially trying to pay for “help”.

  • AC February 19th, 2014 at 7:34 AM #54

    Hey there J, I know precisely how you feel or for better terms don’t feel. I’d use the word scary, but even then it’s not a tangiable fear. I’d say it feels sad, but then by this stage we don’t really feel sadness. We can admit to ourselves that we can try to make ourselves feel happy and for a time it genuinely feels good though with the foreshadowing of a return to null.
    Riddled with guilt and complexes based around being in this state and getting up and out.
    But a question just occurred to me, when was the last time you tried to feel sad.
    It’s not a magic bullet but it really feels to me that it’s a repression of sadness anger and other “negative” emotions; trying to stay on the up side Which creates very little dynamic from which to view life.
    Kind of hard to get into the swing of things when you’re only trying to swing in one direction.
    I’ll be incorporating this more often in my reflections from now.
    Really, I’d rather be bipolar than suffer this any longer.
    And to think I once viewed apathy as an endeering quality.

  • AC February 19th, 2014 at 8:00 AM #55

    This is a very good descriptor of what may be going on. It at least feels very comforting for me to read, as does reading any other article on someone’s view of depression.
    Be aware that this can form a sort of addiction. Not sure if it’s bad. ‘Chasing the dragon’ of sorts to find a magic cure all answer, and you never even get to glymps its tail.
    Not that I’m at all qualified to give advice, but the term depression seems to have been appropriated by many suffering from apathy. A fatigue of resisting emotions perceived as negative or weak.
    Unaddressed these emotions can come out through inappropriate behaviour or if left left too long result in a complete lack of behaviour.
    Thanks for sticking with him through this, you probably have no idea how deeply you are appreciated.

  • Anna March 4th, 2014 at 8:48 AM #56

    yes awesome article. the clinical description is not even close to giving you a real idea of what it’s like

  • shananah March 14th, 2014 at 6:18 PM #57

    This article articulates depression in a way i haven’t been able to. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share it with my husband to help him realize how crippling my latest depression episode has been. I’m afraid if we aren’t able to communicate this that it will destroy any happiness we have or had a chance of haVing. Thank you for your words.

  • Darlene Denker March 22nd, 2014 at 6:28 PM #58

    I’ve been struggling with depression (and most recently, panic attacks) for over 20 years. I’ve tried almost every medication known to man and as a result, I have insomnia brought on by anxiety and sexual aide effects (trouble with orgasm). I’m wondering if anyone has experienced the same thing and if so, what have they done to help the situation?

    My boyfriend and I fight plenty because he doesn’t understand and he thinks I’m just overly sensitive. He’s always telling me that I see the glass half empty. I tell him that he should beore supportive and stop doing little things to upset me or stop with the commentary.

    I actually wish shock therapy was still around because I’d seriously give it a try at this point. I’m tired of moving from therapist to therapist and medication to medication. I feel like a freak with added side effects because of my long history of medications.

    I think I will eventually send my boyfriend a copy of this to try to help him understand. Thank you for any and all responses.

  • Beverly Mason, LPC, PC March 22nd, 2014 at 9:43 PM #59

    I suggest EMDR therapy to deal with the reasons you are depressed. No amount of medication is going to help you until you find why you are feeling so bad, and work it out of your memory with EMDR. Go to EMDRIA and look for a therapist in your area. I truly hope you will do this and see a change in your life. You deserve happiness and joy.

  • Adam March 23rd, 2014 at 8:54 AM #60

    These feeling of being unable to return phone calls and not having interest in texts or distance from family are all too common. I lost my fiancé of 10 years and we now share half time custody of our son. The culprit was my depression, I couldn’t pin point why I felt the way I did or what made me turn away from him, her, my family and especially hers… I was able to control my anxiety through alcohol and felt the source of my depression was her or her family who I always thought “never got me” or “didnt like” me… Neither of these were true. I only needed a culprit so I drew a line in the sand with the world and no matter who tried to cross it I kept them on the other side. I m finding help from equine assisted psychotherapy which I do weekly. The horses see my pain and literally open me up to the point of my purest vulnerability and for that hour I feel like I can be me and not judged by the world or trying to hide from my emotions. It’s an incredibly freeing experience that I highly recommend. Best of luck to you on your journey.

  • Darlene Denker March 23rd, 2014 at 4:14 PM #61

    Is that like hypnosis?

  • kathy March 23rd, 2014 at 4:22 PM #62

    ive lived with my hole life and its very hard on me

  • BipolarDepression March 24th, 2014 at 3:51 AM #63

    One thing u aren’t pointing out or recognizing is that there aren’t always ‘things’ that make u depressed or need to be “wiped from your memory.” Sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance that were born with. Talking with a therapist doesn’t do anything for a chemical imbalance that’s causing your depression. I know this because I LIVE IT. The only thing that helps a little are the meds. People always want to ask “WHY” are u depressed? As if I was dealing with the death of a loved one or going thru a divorce,etc. but that’s not the case! Therapy can’t fix everyone! It drained my bank account & did NOTHING for me. Sometimes I think the more educated people are actually the biggest idiots…ugh..

  • Mm April 10th, 2014 at 2:28 AM #64

    Please get help. She’s five. The help you get by telling someone will save her future too. She’s too young to have a voice. You have to be her voice. And yours. Please!!! I have a five year old and this deeply saddened me. You must be brave and save her !!!!!!!!!!

  • MM April 10th, 2014 at 3:11 AM #65

    My boyfriend of two years became depressed a year or so ago. It was like watching him transform into a stranger before my eyes. I became helpless trying to support him.
    He stopped everything he enjoyed such as hiking,sex and socializing. I tried things like telling him he didn’t deserve it, taking care of small daily duties so he didn’t have to, read books on things to say and not to say to a DP, etc. He still abandoned me three months after a miscarriage. We had a happy strong connection.
    He stopped calling. Talking. Seeing me or anyone. For a year I would contct him every so often–sometimes with three weeks or so going by but typically two. He would admit at times that he was glad I still loved him, And would say he was afraid of losing me, miss me and would come talk to me soon. He never showed up. Time and time again. Eventually my loyalty began to hurt me. I went from loving and supportive to bitter. I got sick. Very sick. And was alone in it. I grew frustrated that he held onto me just enough to keep me loyal but never showed up for me. And although I knew it was the depression, not the real him, after a year it’s hard to not get bitter back. It’s hard to be loyal and often be seen as the enemy. He eventually alienated himself from everyone. He became a robot. Sleep (some), work, eat, sleep, eat, work. That’s his existence. He was once funny and loving and adored me.
    I grew weary and at the end I lost it. I pressured him for an answer. I was ready to either move on or stay but his unjustified uncertainty about us was deeply hurting me. I knew his depression was tearing us apart. And he got worse. He started cussing me if I called. He began to abuse me and attack my intentions saying it was a trap. It hurt deeply because I wanted to scream “a trap? This isn’t a joyride buddy. What exactly am I trapping here?” But I didn’t. I stayed. Although he had grown verbally sbusive–a man I never knew to say damn even for two years of dating him-he cussed , had rage and misdirected anger.
    The end came Saturday when I finally was exhausted by the neglect, hot cold bs (I could be his angel and a bitch in the same conversation) , and abuse. I top of all this he gave up. Said this was the new him. So sad to witness this as I was helpless to help him. I made apts for him to docs, got him on medication at the on set of it, and tried to even just get him out. Once I showed up at his work and lunch and just asked him to walk at the park. We quietly walked together. I’m not sure I did the right things but I tried. For Xmas I made a shadowbox with all his favorite things and things that made him him in it. ..drums, his daughters pic, his favorite music, pic of him running 5ks etc. I really tried.
    On Saturday I finally had had it after another three weeks of silence and waiting for him to talk to me about us and his well being. So I showed up uninvited at his home. I sent a zillion texts. I just lost it. :(
    And boy did he respond. He came over and screamed at me. Said leave him alone. (A five min call every few weeks isn’t exactly hounding him), he said I was emotionally abusing him!, he said everyone else went away and I should to, he never loved me and never would, and to shut my big f*****g mouth. He screamed my worst insecurities at me. He took all the things I had shared w him for years and hurt me w them w his words. I knew I had pressured him and I knew at the end I had become needy and panicked as he kept losing himself to darkness. I acted out of character and damn he was going to use that to blame me for it all and jet. I was very disappointed that I had stood by his crazy moments etc and he wouldn’t return the same to me in mine–especially when this situation was a driving force getting me there. He couldn’t love me through my meltdown. He ended up breaking his hand that night punching the floor. Sad. Mean. Angry. This once nice quiet man became a monster and abusive. I’m not sure if he meant the things he said to me or if it even matters anymore. He seems to have accepted this as his fate. And I’m left repairing myself now. I will always love him but clearly the damage is too much to ever repair. To have someone go from glad for you to get the f*** away from me is painful. I only can assume he said those things to push me out but it doesn’t make it hurt less. So I’m done. And I wish I had done a better job giving him space. I just did what I thought was right. I’d worry for weeks about him and would reach out. I am now according to him a stalker who wants someone who doesn’t want her. (That’s his words). Just weeks ago he was glad I loved him still. How confusing and sad. I can never go back and he made sure of it. I’m a casualty of his depression. He barely looked up as he stepped over me after knocking me down. I feel foolish. Angry. Sad. Worried exhausted. Unwanted. Unloved. Confused. Regretful. I lost my best friend, lover and a soft and kind man to this bs. I will never get over it. I hope he does. What a loss.

  • Ana Castellanos April 12th, 2014 at 8:10 PM #66

    There are medications for depression that have few or minimal sexual side effects, Wellbutrin is one. your psychiatrist would be able to advise if it would be appropriate for you. Orgasm is usually the problem.

    ECT is still available as outpatient treatment in many hospitals. It is very effective for some people, some memory loss is a frequent side effect, it’s usually for memory right before and approx 6 months after treatment.

  • Ana Castellanos April 12th, 2014 at 8:16 PM #67

    Ask your Dr if maybe you need a higher dose of medication or possibly need to augment its effect with medications that are FDA approved to augment antidepressant effect

  • Maria April 20th, 2014 at 3:09 AM #68

    @WhoCares, I think you read minds (and express their thoughts beautifully). You described my experience to the T, much better than I could dream of doing. Thank you.

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