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What is Depression?


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I know I can read about it online or in medical books, but those can't ell me what I guess I should know. I've been told vaguely that it's when someone is sad without understanding why. I only ask this because my family looks at me and says that I might be depressed and that I should talk to someone about it. However I know truely know what it means to "be depressed" so I can't put myself under that label if I don't think that I am. I feel very happy at times and I feel sad at times just like anyone else. I dont' understand why that labels me as "depressed". Cause I'm anti-social? So I was wondering if someone could honestly fill me in on it.

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From Mayo Clinic website:

Depression symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren't going right
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it's obvious something isn't right. Other people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. Inherited traits, age, gender and cultural background all play a role in how depression may affect you.

**From personal experience**

It is NOT just "feeling sad", I realize that you aren't saying that it is, and that you are trying to figure out what it is, but I want to make sure that you know that that really isn't it. Sometimes people will try to use the two synonyomously or will act as if a person can "snap out of it". They can't. Believe me- it is something that you want to- but can't.

Granted I have no idea why your family would say that they feel that you might be.... have you recently become withdrawn, have no interest in things that normally interest you, had major personality changes? You commented "cause I'm anti-social?"; were you a social person previously?

You can be depressed and still functional. You can be depressed and not be crying and constantly focused on the depression all of the time. But... I'm not sure how to explain this. From experience and in my lay person conversations with other people who have been there- there is a feeling of "deadness" a feeling of "disconnectedness" of something just deeply not feeling right. And you are right that there isn't anything "specific" to pin the sadness, disinterest, and lack of connectedness to.

If one of our pysch. people doesn't come in and give a much better answer, I think that you can 1) Ask your family members why they think this. 2) If they have reasonable reasons, then even if you don't feel depressed, you can talk to a professional about what is going on.

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First off, i'll tell you that I've been struggling with depression since I was a child.

It's very different for everyone, and half of what is written about depression was written by people who don't know how it feels to be depressed.

Having a label does nothing for you except give you peace of mind if that is what you want.

Depression cannot be compared to anything other than what it is. There is sadness; we all go through periods of sadness.

But depression is when you feel broken; more than sad...like uou're never going to be happy again...like all you want to do is fall asleep and never wake up.

Sadness makes you feel sad. Depression makes you hurt. It makes you numb to everything except that emotional or physical pain.

You are the only person who will ever know exactly how you feel. Remember that. <3

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As someone who definitely, unquestionably suffers from chronic, treatment resistent depression, I've never much cared for the "criteria" that are used on questionnaires and educational pamphlets and the like. Depression is incredibly difficult to quantify in terms of objective symptoms. A lot of the supposed symptoms of depression are really side effects of being depressed and can also just as easily be symptoms of something else, or even nothing at all. And by and large the actual symptoms of depression seem to vary pretty widely from person to person. The only thing I would really say is consistent across the board for depression is an intense feeling of hopelessness. I'm trying to find a more specific way of describing what I mean by hopeless, but I'm not sure I can without getting into things that are once again going to vary a lot from person to person. So in objective terms, or at least as objective as I can get, I would describe depression as an agonizing sense of hopelessness. Because I agree with Purple that depression hurts. Not necessarily physically, though some people do have physical symptoms, I wouldn't even really say it hurts emotionally exactly because I feel like it's deeper than that. It's hurts at the very core of your being. It hurts in your soul. I suppose you could call it a sort of existential agony, but that's probably getting a little overly philosophical for most people. :lol: But it's definitely painful somewhere deep inside and it feels like the hurt will never stop.

On the other hand I have to disagree with Purple about labels in this sense. A label can do a lot more than just give you peace of mind, it can, potentially, give you access to proper treatment and medication that can be incredibly helpful. That's not to say that psychiatric labels shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt, but they can be very useful tools in making your life and your mental health much better. Whether that means counseling, medication, or just educating yourself on ways of coping with depression on your own, having a specific word will help you get what you need to better manage depression.

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I would describe depression as an agonizing sense of hopelessness. Because I agree with Purple that depression hurts. Not necessarily physically, though some people do have physical symptoms, I wouldn't even really say it hurts emotionally exactly because I feel like it's deeper than that. It's hurts at the very core of your being. It hurts in your soul. I suppose you could call it a sort of existential agony, but that's probably getting a little overly philosophical for most people. But it's definitely painful somewhere deep inside and it feels like the hurt will never stop.


The only reason that I sort of started with the clinical, was because of what you alluded to, Ouro- the individualistic nature of it. And I know that what has happened for me, won't necessarily correlate. In fact, different times for me, things have presented differently. However, that being said, I think that you really got to the core of what is similar. And I would say that even when it seems that you are happy or having fun or something- the emptryness is still there. Because I have tried to convince myself that "Oh, I'm ok, I'm not really depressed because I saw a TV and laughed, or liked it, or that I had a good talk with a friend." For *me* I was functional- from the outside, but when I was treated, I was *me* and I realized that I had *not* been ok and how much of a "weight" I had been walking around with.

Anyway... hoping that you putting this up and getting some different perspectives is helpful.

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I was also diagnosed with depression- and I want to let it be known that I am rarely sad, upset, or feel worthless. I am friendly, sociable, can connect with people. I feel like I am a worthy human and have hope for my future. And yet, it hurts. In my soul. Like Fifi said.

What I do get are the brain function/concentration symptoms. I get exhausted. mentally exhausted. My short term memory is so shot that I can't remember what I'm doing from one minute to the next (I find writing endless lists helpful) and trying to remember is incredibly tiring. The only reason I withdraw is because interacting with people can just be too hard. I feel like I am not inside my body but somewhere outside it, and there is a time lag between my mind and my body- this makes me very clumsy. I stumble a lot, bump into people on the street and when it's really bad I stutter or slur my words because my mouth isn't working right. I also experience some synasthesia (sp?)- touch to colour, where every touch makes me see colour in my body but it's kind of horrible. Like a bad trip.

I get caught between not caring about anything, being unable to care, and caring so incredibly much about the world that I have a literal ache in my chest. It's not sadness, just incredible intensity of feeling.

... wow, now I sound like a right nutter.

And yes, after a while that tends to make me manifest enough of the other criteria that I come under the umbrella "depression." And it can leave me feeling pretty hopeless when it lingers. And Goddamn lack of ability to orgasm! I don't loose my sex drive, I just become unable to climax. It's a bitch.

The first time I became very depressed I didn't notice it sneaking up on me, until I could barely remember what it was like to feel normal. When I started on medication it was like a weight lifted. My memory came back! I was only diagnosed at all because I was (am) a self-injurer, and as the depression deepened I was admitted to hospital, and they went from there. Luckily my depression responds really well to treatment. I am grateful for that every day, and I'm fine at the moment.

thegreatpretender- if any of this thread resonates with you, maybe take time to speak to a councillor or even a Doctor. But you said "maybe it's because I'm anti-social" and I'd hate for you to get labelled or treated unnecessarily just because you are quiet or introverted. I hope my rant was at least a little helpful coming from someone who gets more physical and mental symptoms than the classic emotional ones.

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I agree with everything the above folks are saying and thank them for sharing their own experiences! I've been through much the same and would like to add that depression is fickle and not the same for every person. For me, it ties in with a long time battle with anxiety and my depression comes and goes.

Being depressed does not necessarily mean you are suicidal. I think a lot of people mislabel it as something that always comes with that sense of hopelessness. For me, depression is a state of lethargy. I can function on some level, but it feels fake and like a great deal of effort. I feel exhausted by everything, irrationally frustrated with minor stuff, and have crying spells for no apparent reason. Sometimes it lasts only for a day, and then I can get on with my life.

That being said, it isn't worth ignoring, even if it comes and goes. It might be worth finding a counselor or psychiatrist you like to talk to, even if you don't think you have clinical depression. I've been through probably nine different counselors in my life and I just now found one I feel like I'm really making progress with! I'm starting to look at things in my life in a new way and am able to recognize and fight back against things that get scary but I now know are not rational. It's made me really think about how everyone who wants to make a change in their life, no matter how big or small, should try therapy to work it all out. I leave feeling so light and positive, even after crying for an hour. Don't get me wrong- it's hard work to talk and work through these things, but once you make the commitment and find someone you work well with, it can be really incredible.


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First, thank you to all of you who took the time to share your knowledge and stories with me. It's actually been a lot more helpful then what I've heard before.

I can actually get along fine with people. I've been told when I want to be I'm a pretty social. But most of the time I tend to stay by myself because being around people is... tedious I guess? Which I guess is odd to my family since all of them are extreme extroverts and they want me to be more like them. A "Party animal". However even when I'm with them, they tend to forget that I exsist so what's the point? (This sounds like a Pity Party; Table for one please. Yea, my sense of humor is just wrong...)

I do have moments where I feel physically tired for no real reason and I have insomnia. Once and a while I feel sad but I tend to think thats more for external reasons. I did go to counseling when I was younger, but that was for external reasons as well. Back then she said I was just a normal teen with normal teenage problems. I havent gone to talk to anyone since my mother forced me to see a new one and he made me so mad that I almost pushed him out the window, looked at my mother and said "Don't ever send me back." sweatdrop.gif

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