9 Signs of Severe Depression

Hi there Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only and is no way intended to serve as mental health advice. Please do not self-diagnose. Reach out to a qualified mental health professional or doctor if you’re struggling. 

Depression is a lonely and painful condition to live through. You can lose interest in activities you once loved, your moods may be all over the place, and it can be hard to muster up the energy to even get out of bed. Depression is a common mental health condition, but extremely varied and complex. Some people may experience it surrounding the death of a loved one, while others may develop it as a result of genetics. Sometimes depression arises out of hormonal imbalances or as a side effect from medication. While depression in any case is painful, it affects everyone to varying degrees; from mild to severe. In this article we’ll be exploring  9 signs of severe depression.

It is important to know that depression takes many forms. This specific article is more focused on clinical depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder. Other forms of depression, such as persistent depressive disorder (PDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and minor depressive disorder all have similar signs and symptoms, MDD’s difference is determined by length, functionality, number of symptoms, as well as context. Please speak with a doctor or mental health professional to seek a proper diagnosis for your situation. People with MDD may have all, some, or differing signs than what is listed here. More articles will be linked at the end of this one. We at Psych2Go also have a designated depression category for further readings.

1. You Feel Overwhelming Sadness, Hopelessness and Grief

With depression, you may find yourself feeling emotional a lot of the time. You can feel that everything is hopeless and that it’s difficult to even try. These feelings are persistent and overwhelming to the point that you feel emotionally drained. You might notice that these feelings are easily triggered and difficult to control. It also makes it difficult to function in everyday life because you’re in pain most of the time. These feelings can make it difficult to concentrate and focus on what you need to do. In some cases, you may feel that life is no longer worth living, which is considered a medical emergency (Holland 2019). 

2. You Find It Difficult to Take Care of Yourself 

Self-care becomes a lot of work when you’re depressed. Simple acts such as showering, shaving, and washing clothes become much harder than they used to be since you simply don’t have the energy you used to. Similarly, you may find your eating habits changing wildly from not wanting to eat at all, to eating too much. Trying to get anything done seems to take too much time and energy, so priorities go by the wayside. These neglectful acts in turn can cause more issues. Eating unhealthily has both physical and mental side effects, and poor hygiene can impact relationships with others (Holland 2019). 

3. You Lose Interest in Your Favorite Activities

Anhedonia is characterized by losing pleasure in any activity that you enjoy. This emotional numbness makes it hard to continue a hobby as you constantly ask yourself: what’s the point? In other scenarios, the intense negative emotions are physically and mentally taxing to the point where you don’t feel like you have the energy you need to do what you love. Similarly, depression makes it difficult to concentrate, so you may find yourself unable to find focus when you need it (Mayo Clinic 2017).

4. You Are Overwhelmed With Negative Thoughts

Clinical depression can cause you to feel like you’re drowning. Do you feel like you’re filled with dread that something bad will happen to you? Do you feel like you lack value and that you’re disliked by those around you? These thoughts are debilitating, hurtful, and loud. Some people turn to substances to try to drown out these horrible emotions – which in turns only worsens them. These feelings tie in with sadness, hopelessness, and grief and make it near-impossible to function normally (Holland 2019). 

5. You Feel Empty and Alone

Depression can be an isolating experience. Perhaps you feel that your “flame” has gone out. Maybe you feel that you’re all alone in your feelings and that no one else understands what you’re going through. These feelings can be overwhelming in clinical depression and hurt your perception of yourself. You might cut off others, either intentionally or not, causing yourself to feel even more alone. Even though feeling isolated is common in depression, sometimes it takes talking with the right person to feel more comforted (Chaitanya 2020).

6. You Feel Drained

Depression is physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing to where it takes too much energy to do small tasks. You may find yourself excessively sleepy and spending a lot more time in bed than you used to. This worn out feeling can make it hard to focus on work and school, causing you to fall behind. Additionally, you may find yourself struggling in your relationships because you have a harder time getting out to see others (Kirby 2020). 

7. You Experience Severe Mood Swings

Mood swings are common in depression and can be severe. Do you find your moods changing rapidly and severely? Do you go from feeling joyful, to extreme anger or sadness with little provocation? Depression can cause these intense and consuming feelings. They can be hard to control and cause you to say or do things outside of character. You might lash out at a friend over something minor and act in a manner that is inappropriate for the situation. For instance, getting extremely upset at someone for changing plans or forgetting about an event that is out of proportion to the given situation (Kirby 2020).

8. You Experience Psychotic Symptoms

Psychosis in depression is a relatively rare, but possible side effect in severe clinical depression. If you develop psychotic symptoms, you may find it difficult to distinguish reality from your own mind. In some cases you may even face hallucinations; perhaps you hear voices yelling at you and degrading your sense of value. In other cases, you may experience false beliefs (delusions). Some people report feeling an overwhelming sense that they’re being punished for something. In other cases, they may feel that they’re possessed. Getting diagnosed if you’re experiencing psychotic symptoms is especially important as they can be a sign of a different disorder (WebMD 2012). 

9. You Think About Death

Suicide is a dark and terrifying side to depression. People in this state often feel that there’s no point of going on and that the world is better off without them. Suicide is considered an emergency and any ideation and tendencies should be treated with high priority. There are a number of resources and hotlines available to get help if you, or someone you know is feeling suicidal (Mayo Clinic 2017).

Clinical depression is a debilitating condition that can cause you to feel hopeless and alone. It is important to know however, that there’s help available. Many treatment options exist ranging from medication, to lifestyle changes, to talk-therapy. It often takes talking with the right mental health professional to help get your life back on track. What are some more signs of severe depression you can think of? What are some ways to help cope with these dismal signs? Let us know in the comments, and as always, take care. 


  • Chaitanya, K. (2020, August 17). What Is Crippling Depression. Medicover Hospitals. www.medicoverhospitals.in/what-is-crippling-depression/
  • Holland, K. (2019, June 12). What You Need to Know If Your Depression Feels Debilitating. Healthline. www.healthline.com/health/depression/crippling-depression#treatment
  • Kirby, S. (2018, January 8). Getting Through the Day When You Have Crippling Depression | Betterhelp. BetterHelp. www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/getting-through-the-day-when-you-have-crippling-depression/
  • Mayo Clinic. (2017, May 13). Clinical depression: What does that mean? www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/clinical-depression/faq-20057770
  • WebMD. (2008a, May 21). Psychotic Depression. www.webmd.com/depression/guide/psychotic-depression#1
  • WebMD. (2008b, May 22). The Basics: Depression. www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types#2-5
  • WebMD. (2012, May 9). Warning Signs of Severe Depression. www.webmd.com/depression/warning-signs


Like this article? Here are a few others you may enjoy:

9 Signs You Have Untreated Depression


8 Possible Causes of Depression

10 Signs of A Depressive Episode

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