Spirit > Growing > Not Quite Sad or Lonely…What Depression Feels Like

Not Quite Sad or Lonely…What Depression Feels Like

Depression feels different to different people; these examples of what depression feels like are from JK Rowling and other women who often or occasionally feel depressed. How can you get rid of depressed feelings? It depends on the cause or type of depression – as well as your personality, genetic makeup, and physical health.

In this article, I share several stories and examples of what depression feels like from women who have specific reasons to feel depressed (which is called “situational depression”). I also share what helped them heal, to show you you’re not alone. You can overcome the dark shadow of depression and be happy again! I won’t go into the types of depression or natural remedies for depression – otherwise I’d be writing a book. This is just an article to help a reader who asked me, “what does depression feel like?”

Depression has been described in different ways, such as “loneliness of the soul” by Sylvia Plath and the “black dog” by Winston Churchill and an “mortal internal disease” by Leo Tolstoy. Depression feels like a dark cloud that suffocates you. Depression sucks all your energy, leaving you with nothing but emptiness. Yes, it’s depressing to think about what depression feels like – but it’s important to give voice to depressed feelings.

Shine light on your secrets, your shames, your struggles. The more light you shine and the more you share with the right people, the lighter your darkness will be.

What Does Depression Feel Like?

Depression doesn’t feel like you can’t stop crying…it’s more like an absence of any feeling at all. Here are a few real examples of what it feels like to be depressed, plus a few possible ways to deal with depression.

Our experiences are different – what feels like depression to me may be a normal emotional state for you. What does depression feel like to you? In the comments section below, feel free to describe your experience and share what helps you overcome it.

JK Rowling’s experience with depression

“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced,” says JK Rowling in an interview with The Times (UK).

What Depression Feels Like

What Depression Feels Like

“It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”

To JK Rowling, depression feels like a deadened absence of hope – which is very different than sadness. She found comfort in the four great truths of Buddha, especially the first one. Life is suffering. Rowling loves that because “life is not supposed to be neat.” She finds it comforting that life is supposed to involve suffering. “It’s a comfort to all of us who have messed up,” she says. “And then you find your way back, bizarrely.”

How do you find your way out of depression? I think it depends primarily on two things:

  1. The cause of your depressed feelings
  2. Your genetic makeup and temperament

If your depression is caused by a chemical or hormonal imbalance in your body and brain, then perhaps all you need are antidepressants to stabilize your hormones. If your depression is caused by a great loss or disappointment, perhaps you need to talk to a counselor (talk therapy) or even a spiritual advisor (who can help you learn how to pray for healing).

Depression feels like lack of energy and motivation

“There are days I wake up and don’t want to do anything,” says Kimberly Zapata on What Parenting During A Depressive Episode Is Like. “I don’t want to put on clothes, eat or drink, brush my hair, even get out of bed. I don’t want to live. It seems harsh when I put it that way, when I admit there are days and even weeks when I want to die, but it’s the truth…there are days the pain is so great and so overwhelming that I can no longer stand living. Why? Because I live this depression. It is a reality I face every day — a reality I’ve faced for 15 years and counting — and it’s a reality I now face as a parent. I had to learn how to parent through my depression, and during depressive episodes, because giving birth didn’t magically ‘cure me’ of my depression.”

How do you overcome long-term feelings of depression? Kimberly takes it one breath, one moment, and one minute at a time. She treasures her husband and daughter – and she sees them as her anchor in the storm. She is thankful for her life.

Women experience depression twice as often as men, and it’s estimated that 350 million people suffer from depression. Approximately 19 million of those suffering are Americans. This means nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population struggles with depression – and there may be many others who know what depression feels like but don’t talk about it.

Depression feels like crying all the time

Sometimes there is a reason to feel depressed, which many readers have shared on my article about coping with childlessness. For example, Manu says “I always feel like crying when I see a pregnant lady or a couple pampering their baby. I feel like I’m suffering from severe depression. I have no best friend, even my husband doesn’t listen or car. I lie on my bed, thinking of being childless. Not a single day has passed that I haven’t thought of being a mother. Depression feels like devastation to me.”

How do you stop feeling like crying all the time? Maybe a simple solution is to stop thinking about what is making you sad. If you lie on your bed thinking about your reason for feeling depressed, you’ll never stop crying! Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best cure. What does depression feel like? Lying on the bed crying. How do you stop feeling depressed? Stop lying on the bed and crying!

Other times, however, it seems like there is no reason to feel depressed…until you pay attention to the triggers. For example, some people feel mildly depressed in the late fall and winter because they’re simply not getting enough sunlight – and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Depression feels like a war between two parts of your self

“I sank into a depression so deep and dark that my emotional brain kept saying I should just kill myself even though my logical brain knew I had every reason to live and knew things would get better,” writes Maria Rodale in It’s My Pleasure: A Revolutionary Plan to Free Yourself From Guilt and Create the Life You Want. “I loved my kids and husband desperately but couldn’t seem to pull myself out of the dive.”

What Depression Feels Like

What Depression Feels Like

How do you pull yourself out of depression? When depression feels like a heavy dark cloud of nothingness pressing on your soul, you might need to explore different treatments. Research shows that a combination of talk therapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy) and antidepressants is effective for many types of depressed feelings.

When depression feels like you have nothing to live for and no reason to get up in the morning, you need to reach out for help. When depression feels like you don’t care what happens to you or your family, you need to summon the energy to get the support you need.

A quick list of the “common symptoms of depression”

What does depression feel like? Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy (which is what depression feels like for many people)
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • No appetite – or eating too much
  • Chronic physical health problems, such as aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not go away
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide

It’s good to be aware of the common symptoms of depression, but it’s even more important to know what depression feels like. Why? Because knowing what it actually feels like to be depressed will help you recognize when you need to get help – and even how to help someone who is struggling with depression.

What to Do Next

what does depression feel likeRead The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by Alex Korb. The truth is that there isn’t one simple tip on how to deal with depression, but there are numerous simple steps you can take to alter brain activity and chemistry. Some are as easy as relaxing certain muscles to reduce anxiety, or getting more sunlight to improve your mood.

Small steps in the right direction can have profound effects – especially if you’re motivated because you’re sick and tired of knowing what depression feels like! You can literally reshape your brain, one small change at a time.

Read How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend if you’re asking “what does depression feel like?” because you’re in love with a man who is struggling with depression.

What does depression feel like to you? Write about it. If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, don’t isolate yourself. Come out into the light, share what you’re experiencing. How do you cope with depressed feelings, and does it help to talk about depression with people who understand what you’re feeling?

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of what depression feels like. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.


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5 thoughts on “Not Quite Sad or Lonely…What Depression Feels Like”

  1. Dealing with Depressiion is a Wake Up Call from God that we need to Change the way we live our lives.

    Ther wwill always be the void, the emptiness, crying and loneliness until we change.

    No one can do it for us we have to do it oursleves to appreciate what we have done and how we have come through the otber side of life.

    Be true to yourself find a way forward. Head for your dream. Find a job you can do without the struggle of targets to met.

    Take kife easy for once. If it means having a job with less money so long as you can pay the bills then do it if it will make you happy and have more time with your family

    To be happy and to have love is the biggest gift of all.

    Life to too short to be depressed. Time to let go of all sadness and rise above whatever makes you sad.
    It time for a new you. A new adventure is waiting for you. But only you can make the Change.

    If this change affects the whole family discuss it with them first as it will be a big step to take.
    Pray to God and your Angels for guidance and always remembe to say thankyou for each blessing.

    God Bless you all..

  2. Thank you for sharing how you feel, Annie! It’s a lonely feeling, not being able to share the “real you” with people…and to feel like everyone else has moved along without you.

    You’re not alone. So many people are struggling with feelings of loneliness. We know it’s not what depression feels like; it’s just a loneliness for people who understand who we are. Who we can be real with.

    How are you feeling these days? It’s been awhile since you left your comment. Is life better lately?

    – Laurie

  3. i recently came home from a trip overseas to my home country which still feels like home despite its disgusting miserable winter weather and to the usa to visit a dear friend and her friends. Since I came back to my long adopted home I feel the sense of loss of not being with my own kind where family are not interesed but longstanding friends from childhood are still there and happy to see me and receptive to spending time with me. Where I live I have a plesant lifestyle yet it seems hollow and meaningless without someone close to share it with. The few people I know in the town I chose to live in for its lovely climate several years ago, all have their own families and dont always have much time to spend with me leaving me feeling very ‘forgotten’ not helped by the fact my immediate family have had nothing to do with me for almost 29 years and refuse to even discuss why.
    I so often feel non existant and unimportant unless my sewing skills are required and that the real me is never seen. Thank you for this opportunity to at least speak how I feel and I hope by the tie Im 71 in a couple of months this too will have passed. Blessings

  4. Dear Nicole,

    I am so sorry for your loss. You loved your mother so very much, and losing her has left a huge gap in your life. After all, it was just you and her for your entire adult life…and now she’s gone. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this grief and pain.

    Perhaps the grief you’re experiencing isn’t just for the loss of your dear mother, it’s also for the loss of your identity. You were her caregiver, daughter, and probably the center of your mother’s world. Like you said she was your best friend. So you didn’t just lose your mom, you lost the person who was most important to you in this whole world.

    I’m not sure if the feelings of grief that you are experiencing are normal. I don’t know how you responded to loss and life before your mom died, and I don’t know your personality. Depression can feel like something different to different people at different stages of their lives, so it’s not easy to say whether or not you’re depressed.

    What do you think? Are your feelings of grief lasting longer than you expected? Do you feel like you should talk to a counselor or perhaps join a grief support group?

    I encourage you to read books to help you learn about the grieving process. I don’t know how much you know about grief, but it really does help to know how most people experience grief.

    Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss is a really good book about grief and feelings of depression:

    And here’s an article to help you feel comforted and encouraged:

    Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken

    Will you read this blog post, or Tear Soup, or a different book on grieving and healing from depression, and let me know what you think? Tell me what helped, what didn’t help, and why you think certain parts of the book stood out to you.


  5. I took care of my ill mom for 13 years- my entire adult life. She passed away in Aug 2015 and ever since then, i feel so alone. I have 3 siblings- two of which have never helped to care for our Mom nor care about me. My other sibling is mentally ill so, i really have no one in this world. My Mom is my best friend and my world.. now she has passed. I cry off and on, barely sleep, and lie in bed for days on end. Are these normal feelings of grief? Am i depressed? What should i do?