16 Analogies for Depression – How would you explain it?

Depression is very difficult to explain, because as with any mental illness, it feels different for everyone. We asked our readers “who has experienced depression?” and how they would explain what it feels like to others. Of course, any mental illness differs from person to person, but we at psych2go want to bring people together to both share their experience and maybe even help others out. Maybe you can use one of these to explain your problems to people in your surroundings who have trouble understanding what you’re going through. Do you have a particular way to explain your depression?

[Disclaimer: some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.]

  1. “It’s like you have weights built into your arms and legs. They’re heavy and make any basic activity feel like I’m dragging around dumbbells that are too heavy for me.”
  2. “It’s like you’re screaming in pain but there’s no sound coming out of you.”
  3. “My depression feels like a black hole, but you’re not in the black hole, you are the black hole, your mind is. It sucks in anything that might make you feel any emotion and turns it into darkness, nothingness.”
  4. “Depression feels like I’m in black and white and the rest of the world is in colour. I cannot be part of it, however much I might want to. I don’t belong.”
  5. “It’s like a prison without bars. You are trapped by an invisible force preventing you from being happy.”
  6. “It’s like the waves of the ocean; sometimes the waves recede and you see the beautiful sand with the pretty seashells. Soon, the tide will come and swallow all of that beauty up and drag it away from you. What helped me fight that feeling is knowing that the waves will recede again.”
  7. “For me it’s like a heavy mist. Sometimes far away enough, but at other times it presses me down. It may enter your body, the lungs, brain, stomach and limbs. Everything feels sick. As if you haven’t had fresh air in a while and it’s exhausting and frustrating.”
  8. “To me it’s completely like the dementors from Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s representation of that struggle was on point.”
  9. “A fog that lingers in the early morning sky, never completely fading, always present and blurring your vision.”
  10. “It feels like being in the middle of a large body of water without seeing shores. Something tugs at your leg and you struggle to keep your head above the surface. You gasp and struggle but it’s exhausting and tiring and frightening at the same time. Sometimes you truly doubt if you’ll ever make it out of there, if the thing tugging on your leg will ever let go.”
  11. “To me it feels like being snowed in by an avalanche. You’re disoriented; you don’t know which way is up, so you dig tirelessly in the wrong direction while being starved of oxygen. Everything around you is cold and looks the same.”
  12. “It’s a weight on your chest holding you down. No matter what you do it stays there and it spreads throughout your body and everything takes more effort than ever.
  13. “It’s like trying to run underwater. It’s exhausting and annoying, and gets you nowhere.”
  14. “For me depression was an old tv that lost its signal. All colourful images turned into a noisy, strange black and white mess of spots. All the good things I’d lost and all the bad things I’ve still got. Sounds turned into buzzing noise, and my favourite things, everything I’d liked, turned invisible.”
  15. “It’s like all the joy was sucked from my body, in my chest is nothing, only emptiness, and I’m bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders. Everything that I loved makes no sense anymore. The only thing I want to do is to crawl into the darkest corner of my room, curl up and cry even though I know crying won’t help. It’s just feeling nothing at all.”
  16. “The feeling of being chained around the neck, connected to all your fears, and getting tugged around ruthlessly until you choke.”


Thank you to all the contributors!

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  1. People think depression is sadness. People think depression is crying, people think depression is dressing in black. But it really isn’t. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb, numb to emotions, numb to life. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again. Days aren’t really days; they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced, and how do you face them? Through medication, through drinking, through smoking, through drugs, through self harm. When you’re depressed you grasp onto anything that can get you through the day, that’s what depression is, not sadness, not tears, is the overwhelming sense of numbness and the desire for anything that can help you make it from one day to the next.

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  4. people say depression is a sea or a chain. not always. it can be that you feel like a glass figure covered in a black sticky tar that burns softly and it creeps into your cracks telling you that your not good enough. that youll never escape as it sucks away your core self and all your morals till you cant feel anything but a numb fakeness and hatred.

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