Each person experiences depression in his or her own way. Depression is not “one size fits all,” but there are hallmark symptoms that can help you identify it.
What Depression Feels Like
Physical symptoms: It can literally hurt.
Studies have shown a connection between chest pain and depression. When you are depressed, your heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure can increase and potentially trigger chest pain. You may also have muscle and joint pain or an overall feeling of achiness or weakness.
Depression can also lower your tolerance to pain. Normal headaches may feel unbearable or develop into debilitating migraines. When it comes to digestive symptoms, they are all over the map. Some people experience indigestion, nausea, and loss of appetite. Others may overeat and gain weight. Loss of sexual desire and/or dysfunction can also be a symptom of depression.
Mental and emotional symptoms: It’s not just sadness.
Emotions widely vary and often become jumbled when you are depressed. Negative emotions may include intense loneliness, apathy, guilt, self-pity, or numbness. You may feel a loss of control and experience uncontrolled laughter, irritability, or bouts of crying. You may express anger, aggression, or rage. Fatigue and depression also seem to go hand in hand, and can become a vicious cycle that’s hard to correct. Loss of sleep can contribute to depression and vice-versa.
Cognitive symptoms: I can’t think.
Memory loss is a strong indicator for depression. The inability to make decisions, find your car keys, or follow a conversation can make it hard to connect. It also has been described as feeling as if you were in a fog or slow motion. Expressing your thoughts is difficult, and you tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. It can lead the most social person into isolation.
Lowered sense of worth: Don’t ignore this symptom.
Depression can lower your self-esteem. Feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, and hopelessness are more damaging than you might think. They can take a toll on your relationships and your job. Depression and its effects can leave you feeling like life is too painful or not worth living. If you have thoughts of ending your life, seek help right away. Reach out to a loved one and get connected with a counselor. If you’re not sure where to turn, start by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.