What is Depression Really Like?

Depression has a stigma attached to it, but it’s not something to be feared; it’s also not something a person can simply “snap out of” just because you tell them to. You don’t need to tip-toe around people with depression, and you don’t need to hide them away.

Depression is not something you can snap out of.

I want to share two analogies from this article on depression that help put some perspective on what it’s like.


Unless you have experienced it, you can never truly understand

How many of you have a tail? You know, like a monkey. If you haven’t (which I hope is everyone), can you imagine what it is like to grip a branch or maybe just swing it back and forth? It’s impossible isn’t it?

We’ve never had one so that’s not surprising.

Depression is similar to that. If it’s something that you have never experienced then you can try as hard as you want, but you will never truly know what it feels like.


You cannot just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull yourself together’

I like analogies so steady your hats because here comes another one.

Depression is like trying to run through water and being told to get over it is akin to suddenly being able to move like you can on dry land. It’s impossible. You can grit your teeth and attempt to get some momentum going but ultimately the density will prevent you from moving quickly.

When depression has its grip on you, life becomes water. The air around you becomes water, crushing you with its weight and even the simplest tasks become difficult. You feel sluggish, both mentally and physically and nothing can snap you out of it.

You have essentially become trapped inside your own prison and true access to your brain lies behind that locked door. Sometimes, briefly, you are allowed outside to stretch your legs but you know this is temporary. Eventually you will have to return to your cell and wait patiently for a time when you are given another opportunity to function like a normal member of society.

The Science of Depression

Don’t be afraid you’ll set someone with depression off or treat them like loose canons. Be yourself. Don’t be insensitive (there’s never a right place for insensitivity), but don’t coddle them either. If they don’t feel like going out or joining a party, don’t force the issue. Partying isn’t a cure for depression. If they do choose to go out and you see them having a good time, don’t try to take credit for “curing” them. You haven’t! People with depression can and do have good days, weeks, sometimes even months.

Confused? That’s OK. You don’t have to figure it out. You just have to know that people with depression are not aliens.

Words by Zachner

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