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What does depression feel like?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 13, 2023.

Official answer


What depression (major depressive disorder) feels like is different for everyone, but most commonly people say they experience feelings of:

  • Profound sadness
  • Tearfulness
  • Hopelessness
  • A severe low mood

Depression is not just feeling sad occasionally. People with depression can experience a wide range of symptoms that are persistent and occur daily for much of the day. Symptoms can have a big impact on day-to-day life. It is common for people with depression to feel isolated and withdrawn from life, as they lose interest in friends and activities they usually enjoy.

Changes in appetite and sleep patterns highlight the individual nature of the symptoms people experience. Some people with depression will have an increase in appetite causing them to gain weight, while others will eat less, leading to weight loss. Some people will also have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep (insomnia), while others will sleep too much.

Feeling restless or agitated are also symptoms of depression, as is fatigue and feeling both physically and mentally slowed. Feelings of anxiousness, irritability and upset may also occur. Struggling to concentrate, being easily distracted and finding it difficult to make decisions are also signs that you may have depression.

Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, self-hate and inappropriate guilt may also be experienced during an episode of depression. In severe cases, people with depression may also think about suicide or death and will in some cases act on those thoughts. Importantly, most forms of depression respond well to antidepressant medications and counseling.

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