Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Depressed: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Dec 23rd, 2020 & updated on Mar 19th, 2021
Everyone feels sad sometimes. But it’s important to distinguish feeling sad and feeling depressed, ‘cause there’s a key difference! When we have a bad day or feel sad, we might go home and have a much-needed pity party with some ice cream and trashy reality TV. Then, we get over it. The sad feeling eventually passes. Depression isn’t like that. It just keeps dragging on… and on… and on and you wonder if it will ever go away. You might have a hard time even remembering what it was like before you felt depressed. It’s almost impossible to think of the future because right now, you’re just counting down the hours until you can go back to bed and disconnect from everyone and everything. It’s this heavy pit in your stomach, or a weight on your shoulders you can’t seem to shake off. It starts to take over your life and keep you from functioning like you normally would. And it’s really, really hard.
If this is how you’re feeling, you’re not alone! Depression is a long-term mental illness that can happen to anyone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or afraid to talk about, which is why we’re here to help you navigate this feeling. We wanna be here for you, friend.
A Deeper Look at Feeling Depressed
What does it actually mean to feel depressed, though? Well, APA Dictionary of Psychology defines depression (n.) as: “a negative affective state, ranging from unhappiness and discontent to an extreme feeling of sadness, pessimism, and despondency, that interferes with daily life.” So basically, it’s a state of sadness that’s so persistent, it can throw your life and mental wellness completely off balance. Sounds amazinggg, doesn’t it?!
First of all, it’s not your fault you feel this way. At all. Depression can happen for so many reasons, whether it’s from biology or life events. If your family has a history of a depression, there’s a higher chance you’ll develop it at some point in your life. Traumatic or stressful life events can also cause depression. Some medical conditions can also put you at higher risk for depression such as chronic illness, chronic pain, insomnia, or mental conditions like ADHD. In other cases, it just comes down to hormone changes or chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters acting up. Both can affect your mood and how you feel, which is totally beyond your control. This is why antidepressants might be recommended by your doctor or therapist to help balance those neurotransmitters and offset some of the other symptoms of depression.
How Feeling Depressed Shows Up Mentally
Since depression is a mental illness, it obviously has a major impact on your mental wellbeing. Most days (or even alllll the days) you’ll feel really down. It’s like your spark just kinda fizzles out. You might struggle to get out of bed in the morning, or randomly feel like crying for no reason. Normal day-to-day activities that are normally NBD, like showering or getting dressed, suddenly feel totally overwhelming. Even the hobbies you typically enjoy doing, like going for a run or playing guitar, don’t seem all that interesting to you anymore. You might feel super disconnected from everyone including your closest friends and family. No matter what you do, it seems like nothing makes you feel happy anymore. You’re just going through the motions of life, but something feels… off. It’s like you’re coasting through life on autopilot.
Other signs? You might feel super irritable or agitated. Maybe you’ve noticed that little things set off your mood more than usual, causing you to snap at people or get frustrated. You could also feel restless, like you can’t relax or focus on what you’re doing. It can also be hard to make decisions. Your schedule feels way less manageable than it usually does, because you keep dropping the ball. And your behaviour makes you feel sooo guilty or completely worthless. To put it simply, you just aren’t feeling like yourself!
Feeling depressed can take your thoughts to a really dark place. If you start to have suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm, or think a lot about death and dying, please reach out to a professional for help.
How Feeling Depressed Shows Up Physically
While depression obviously can take a huge toll on your mental health, it can also affect your body in different ways. Here are a few physical symptoms you might notice when you’re feeling depressed:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Body aches
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Getting sick more frequently
- Lower sex drive
Clearly, depression can put your body through some shit. It weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to health issues in the future. Definitely consult a doctor if these many of these symptoms hinder your ability to function on a daily basis. These are not things you should have to live with! You deserve health and happiness.
5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Depressed
One last thing! We have some coping strategies for you, recommended by our in-house mental health professional. These are simple yet effective ways you can manage your feelings of depression. Try ‘em out!
Feeling depressed can be really tough to work through. Try writing out exactly how you’re feeling and where you think it’s coming from. Maybe you’re dealing with a lot of stress right now or going through a difficult personal situation. Taking the time to journal our thoughts can give us the clarity we need to move forward!
2. Find a positive distraction
Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Watch an episode of a show that never fails to make you laugh. Clean out your closet. Listen to a podcast. Do whatever takes your mind off things and sparks a ‘lil joy! You deserve it.
3. Reach out to a support person
Your loved ones are there for a reason! When you need to talk through how you’re feeling, lean on the people you trust. Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference.
4. Visualize your happy place
It could be a cozy bookstore on the snowy mountainside with a crackling fireplace. Or maybe it’s the beaches you sun-bathed on during your last family vacay. Whatever your happy place in your mind is, go there. Picturing something that makes you feel warm and at peace can help lift your mood.
5. Engage in something soothing and comforting
Spend time with your pet by cuddling them or taking them on a walk. Touch something comforting like your fave cozy blanket. Brew some tea or your drink of choice. Do whatever makes you feel calm and safe.
That’s all for now, friend. We hope this helped you better navigate feeling depressed, ‘cause no one should have to feel alone on this journey.