WELLNESS
04/22/2016 03:01 pm ET Updated Aug 30, 2017

12 Stories That Capture What Depression Feels Like

"I wanted desperately to blame these feelings on something."

More than 300 million people will experience depression in their lifetimes, but not everyone will experience depression in the same way. We rounded up 10 HuffPost articles that resonated with our readers and give a glimpse into the varied and deeply personal ways people deal with depression.

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Nothing about depression is easy. But the way it affects a person’s daily life is arguably the most difficult part of the disorder. The reality is that these symptoms all have a significant effect on routines, from running errands to social situations to even just going to sleep. As with any medical issue, the more knowledge you’re armed with, the better. That’s why we rounded up just some of the ways depression influences a person’s day-to-day life.

There are multiple barriers to getting proper help, from the high price tag of professional support to issues with access to care. Another big reason there’s a treatment gap? The negative stereotype that having a mental health issue makes a person weak, according to Ken Duckworth, the medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We asked our social media community to share how treatment has helped them with the disorder. Of course, what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to check with a doctor on the best method for you. There should be no stigma when it comes to getting healthy.

 
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I am feeling depressed. It started more than a year and a half ago. I noticed that on my hour commute home that I felt something close to nothing. Not excited about things I had going on, kind of just “meh.” I can calculate how “meh” my day is by thinking about things I should be excited about: Two-week trip to New Zealand, meh. My parents’ loving labrador, meh. I waited and waited to get excited about something, but nothing happened.

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Everything feels a lot harder when you’re dealing with high-functioning depression ― including relationships. Experts say the condition often isn’t noticeable to most people, because those who experience it tend to mask it well. This arguably makes the disorder difficult for partners to detect and the people who deal with it hesitant to speak up in the first place. The symptoms are aligned with those of depression, including irritability and extreme sadness. But the average observer wouldn’t necessarily know it based on how the sufferer is acting. Luckily, knowledge is power. Education about mental health issues helps people who don’t experience them understand the disorders a little bit better.

While you may be trying to put things into perspective, it may not be received that way. “[The key] is to recognize their suffering as opposed to being dismissive,” says Dr. Adam Kaplin, an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurology at Johns Hopkins University. “With a phrase like this, there may be an underlying issue in that we don’t really know what to say, so we’re trying to make ourselves feel better by trying to make the person suffering feel better.”

To help you get a better sense of what exactly the condition does to a person, here’s a list of things people with depression commonly experience. People constantly confusing depression with sadness. It’s a common misconception that depression is just a result of being overly sad. But as David Kaplan, Ph.D., chief professional officer of the American Counseling Association, stresses, the two are not one and the same. “People throw around the word ‘depressed’ a lot,” Kaplan previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. “Depression is a clinical term — and a lot of times when people say they’re depressed, they really mean sad. The words that we use are very powerful and it’s important to make that distinction.”

Christian Hopkins

Sometimes a picture is worth more than any words could express. After being diagnosed with depression at age 16, photographer Christian Hopkins decided to process his experience from behind a lens. The result is a stunning photo series that captures the misunderstood nuances of mental illness. The images sum up what depression, which affects 350 million people worldwide, feels like in the daily experience of the artist.

They may intentionally make efforts to appear OK and maybe even seem exponentially happy and upbeat. The idea that those with depression all have one similarly dreary personality is false. Depression is more than just a mood. Those who live with depression have learned to alter their apparent moods, and may even be some of the most seemingly “happy” people that you know. Personalities can vary. Often those with depression try to stick with the positive and public parts of their demeanor regardless of what they’re going through on the inside. No one wants to bring others down, even if that means hiding how he or she is truly feeling.

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Robin Williams passed away exactly two weeks to the day after I was diagnosed with chronic depression and prescribed an anti-depressant to deal with the problem. There. I said it. I realize I’m certainly not the first person even this afternoon to go public with his bouts with this illness. However, as those who deal with depression every day know full well, part of our problem is the shame in having the problem. My depression helped earn me a divorce. It’s ensured that my son gripes that I’m a downer. It means I spend many weekend nights alone on my couch, watching movies where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks get over things that make them sad and find love, because I’m so deathly afraid connecting with others would reveal my inner Eeyore.

10. 9 Sneaky Causes Of Depression

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Social media is just a glimpse of someone’s life through a glass half full; it does not accurately portray someone’s reality. But you still may find yourself stacking your life against theirs. This is subconscious process is what researchers call “social comparison,” and it can lead to feelings of depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 

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Psychologist and researchers also point to the key fact that building a strong and loving relationship can fortify you and your partner against the withering affects of depression. But in order to know what you’re fighting against, you must be able to identify when and how depression is interfering. And the warning signs of depression in a relationship aren’t always clear cut and obvious. Here’s a list of what to look for.

“Depression is incredibly complex,” Riba told The Huffington Post. “People may not understand a lot of the symptoms. But it’s important to identify and seek professional help for these issues.” Here are just a few ways the mental health condition affects each age differently.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

 

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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
These Accurate Comics Explain What Depression Is Like
CONVERSATIONS