Quotes that describe what depression feels like

Quotes that describe what depression feels like: illustration of a woman sitting outside in the rain

“The sun stopped shining for me, is all. The whole story is: I am sad. I am sad all the time, and the sadness is so heavy that I can't get away from it. Not ever.” Nina LaCour | Depression Photo Credit: ©yesdoubleyes / Adobe Stock 

Quotes that describe what depression feels like

Finding healing in descriptive quotes about depression

Depression is a silent storm that can engulf even the most vibrant souls. It is a complex mental health condition that goes beyond mere sadness, reaching into the depths of one's being. As a former humanitarian aid worker who has personally experienced the relentless grip of clinical depression, I have come to understand the power of words in capturing and conveying the intricate nuances of this condition. 

In my journey toward healing, I collected a multitude of quotes that describe what depression feels like for me. These quotes, penned by real individuals who have walked a similar path, have been a source of solace and understanding. In this essay, I present 20 such quotes that poignantly portray the depths of depression, in the hope that they may resonate with others and serve as a reminder that they are not alone in their struggle. 

“I don't want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can't even see it, something that's drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”


Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye


“I've got a bad case of the 3:00 am guilts - you know, when you lie in bed awake and replay all those things you didn't do right? Because, as we all know, nothing solves insomnia like a nice warm glass of regret, depression and self-loathing.”


D.D. Barant, Dying Bites (The Bloodhound Files, #1)


"Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It's always there, though."


Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot


“Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression's actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.”


Jonathan Franzen, How to Be Alone


“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”


Stephen Fry

Eat, Pray, Love


“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long; I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death, I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression, and I am braver than Loneliness, and nothing will ever exhaust me.”


Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love

"Depression is a side effect of dying"

“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”


John Green, The Fault in Our Stars


“Depression isn't a war you win. It's a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest. It's one bloody fray after another.”


Shaun David Hutchinson, We Are the Ants


“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know, and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding, and no reassurance is ever enough. You're frightened, and you're frightening, and you're "not at all like yourself but will be soon," but you know you won't.”


Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness


“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, 'There now, hang on, you'll get over it.' Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”


Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees (Greer Family, #1)

" I am sad all the time"

Hold Still


“The sun stopped shining for me, is all. The whole story is: I am sad. I am sad all the time, and the sadness is so heavy that I can't get away from it. Not ever.”


Nina LaCour, Hold Still


Read: Why Depression Feels Like Drowning

"When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker … but as survivors. 


Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand. I hope to one day see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle, and as a celebration of the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like."


Jenny Lawson (Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things)


“Because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”


Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


"It is important not to suppress your feelings altogether when you are depressed. It is equally important to avoid terrible arguments or expressions of outrage. You should steer clear of emotionally damaging behavior. People forgive, but it is best not to stir things up to the point at which forgiveness is required. When you are depressed, you need the love of other people, and yet depression fosters actions that destroy that love. Depressed people often stick pins into their own life rafts. The conscious mind can intervene. One is not helpless."


Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression


“Depression is melancholy minus its charms.”


Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor


"When you experience loss, people say you’ll move through the 5 stages of grief…. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance ….. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll cycle through them all every day."


Ranata Suzuki


“I can't eat, and I can't sleep. I'm not doing well in terms of being a functional human, you know?”


Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story

"There's nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression"

"Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there's nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression.”


"Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty-mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it’s in your bones and your blood."


Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes


“Depression is not a sudden disaster. It is more like a cancer: At first its tumorous mass is not even noticeable to the careful eye, and then one day -- wham! -- there is a huge, deadly seven-pound lump lodged in your brain or your stomach or your shoulder blade, and this thing that your own body has produced is actually trying to kill you. Depression is a lot like that: Slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearable. But you won't even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getting older, about turning eight or turning twelve or turning fifteen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live.”


“I don't want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty, and I am already exhausted.”


Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Depression is an arduous journey, but it is crucial to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. These quotes that describe what depression feels like serve as a testament to the shared experiences of those who have battled depression and managed to find solace amidst the darkness. 

However, while words can provide comfort, they are not a substitute for professional help. If you resonate with any of these quotes about depression and find yourself struggling with depression, it is essential to seek treatment. Reach out to mental health professionals, friends, or family members who can support you on your path to healing. Remember, you are not alone, and there is hope beyond the shadows.

Article by
Brendan McDonald

Brendan McDonald, the author of "Quotes that describe what depression feels like," is a former humanitarian aid worker who has ventured into challenging territories such as Kosovo, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Libya, Jordan, and Iraq. He has gained extensive experience in information management, staff wellness, and communications. In early 2014, after dedicating a year to the Syria Crisis, Brendan experienced burn-out and was subsequently diagnosed with clinical depression. Brendan lives with several medical conditions, including chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), peripheral neuropathy, and bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD)