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What Does Depression Feel Like Physically

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What Treatment Should I Be Offered

What is depression like?

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.

Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.

NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.

Step 1: Everyone who may have depression

Your doctor should offer you:

  • an assessment of your symptoms,
  • support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
  • information on how to deal with your symptoms,
  • monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
  • referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.

Step 2: Mild to moderate depression

Your doctor may offer you:

  • low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
  • physical activity programmes,
  • group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
  • medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
  • referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.

Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked

Your doctor may suggest:

Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:

  • medication,

Ketamine Therapy For Depression

If you are currently or have tried different forms of treatment for depressive disorder without much success do not lose hope. Sometimes it takes a variety of treatments and therapies to find what works. There has been a relatively new treatment that is gaining a lot of attention for its effectiveness in treating depression when other traditional methods have failed. With commonly-prescribed antidepressants the results are not immediately effective and can take weeks for patients to see improvement in their mental health. Antidepressants also carry potential side-effects and some are not recommended in young teenagers.

Ketamine therapy is different from traditional antidepressants and is administered by IV in a tapering sequence, typically starting off with an infusion 3 times a week. It has been given as an off-label therapy in clinical studies when traditional antidepressants have been unsuccessful and is now approved in the treatment of depression. Side effects reported were very mild and it has proven to be effective in short-term relief from depression symptoms within a few hours of treatment lasting up to several days or weeks. More research and clinical studies need to be conducted to see longer-lasting effects.

Difficulty Concentrating And/or Making Decisions

If youre depressed, you may find it difficult to focus on certain tasks, whether work-related or in your personal life.

You may struggle to concentrate and find that you cant recall things as easily as you normally would.

Depression may also affect your ability to make decisions. According to an article published by Harvard Health, you may feel indecisive and struggle to make clear choices, adapt your goals to changing situations and take the necessary steps to get certain things done.

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When To Seek Professional Help

If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes arent enough, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. There are many effective treatments for depression, including:

Therapy. Consulting a therapist can provide you tools to treat depression from a variety of angles and motivate you to take the action necessary. Therapy can also offer you the skills and insight to prevent the problem from coming back.

Atypical Depression: Whats in a Name? Article on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of atypical depression.

Depression and Other Illnesses An overview of the mental and physical illnesses that often co-exist with depression, and how this impacts treatment.

Depression support & suicide prevention help

Depression support

In the U.S.: Find DBSA Chapters/Support Groups or call the NAMI Helpline for support and referrals at 1-800-950-6264

UK: Find Depression support groups in-person and online or call the Mind Infoline at 0300 123 3393

Australia: Find Support Groups and regional resources or call the SANE Help Centre at 1800 18 7263

India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330

Suicide prevention help

In the U.S.: Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123

Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14

Other countries: Visit IASP or International Suicide Hotlines to find a helpline near you

Major Or Clinical Depression

What Does Depression Really Feel Like

Major depression is much less common than mild or moderate and is characterized by severe, relentless symptoms.

  • Left untreated, major depressive disorder typically lasts for about six months.
  • Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but major depression can be a recurring disorder.

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How To Get Help

Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of depression. Theyâll want to rule out other health conditions so they can find you the right treatment. You might need to make some lifestyle changes, take medicine, or talk to a mental health specialist. Some people benefit from a mix of all three.

Some treatments for mild or serious depression include:

Suicide is a serious symptom of depression. Get help right away if youâre thinking about hurting yourself. You can reach someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Theyâre available anytime, day or night.

Show Sources

Molecular Psychiatry: âSubcortical brain alterations in major depressive disorder: findings from the ENIGMA Major Depressive Disorder working group.â

Translational Psychiatry: âProfound and reproducible patterns of reduced regional gray matter characterize major depressive disorder.â

Neural Plasticity: âThe Role of Neural Plasticity in Depression: From Hippocampus to Prefrontal Cortex.â

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : âDepression, antidepressants, and the shrinking hippocampus.â

Frontiers in Immunology: âThe Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue.â

The Lancet Psychiatry: âMicroglia and major depression: not yet a clear picture,â âAssociation of translocator protein total distribution volume with duration of untreated major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study.â

Emotional Symptoms Of Depression

Depression can cause a large, diverse range of symptoms that change the way you think, feel and behave.

Its important to understand that depression can vary in severity, with no two cases exactly the same.

While some people with severe depression may experience a wide range of severe, persistent symptoms, others with a more mild form of depression may only experience a few symptoms that come and go over time.

There are also a range of different types of depression, such as seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder, that may present with different symptoms than major depression.

Simply feeling sad or frustrated every now and then doesnt necessarily mean that you suffer from depression.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, to be diagnosed with depression, youll typically need to experience one or several depression symptoms for a period of two weeks or longer.

Below, weve listed the most common symptoms of depression, along with more information on how each symptom may affect your mood, behavior and daily life.

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Symptom #1 Chest Pain

Firstly, if youre experiencing chest pain of any kind, it is extremely important that you get it checked immediately to rule out heart attacks and other serious conditions.

But, chest pain can actually be linked to depression. Seems strange, but there is a good reason: depression often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and panic attacks, which are typically felt in the chest.

In fact studies have shown that depression is one of the more common explanations of chest pain, making this a helpful indicator for diagnosis.

Physical Symptoms Of Depression

What Depression Feels Like


One of the most common symptoms of depression is the feeling of being constantly tired and drained.

While depression exhaustion can be mental, it often presents as a lack of physical energy.

This may occur as a result of low-quality sleep, especially for those that attempt to manage their depression with drugs or alcohol.

For some people, low quality sleep means insomnia and sleep deprivation, while for others it might mean sleeping constantly without ever feeling rested.

Alcohol adds to this effect by interrupting the REM cycle, causing the brain to miss out on the most restorative periods of sleep throughout the night.

Incessant fatigue makes working and socializing especially difficult, and can contribute to the sad and hopeless feelings that often accompany depression.

Fatigue may also cause a depressed individual to abandon their workout routine and become less active, which can exacerbate depression over time.

Aches and Pains

Depression can quite literally hurt. Just as when you have the flu and your body seems to ache all over, depression can cause mild pain and discomfort to amplify, becoming severely distracting and debilitating.

Because our brains are responsible for producing the sensation of pain, poor mental health can cause inappropriate responses to varying degrees of pain.

Research has confirmed that depression lowers pain tolerance, intensifying pain that would otherwise be manageable.

Digestive Issues


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Is It Depression Or Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, involves serious shifts in moods, energy, thinking, and behavior. Because it looks so similar to depression when in the low phase, it is often overlooked and misdiagnosed. This can be a serious problem as taking antidepressants for bipolar disorder can actually make the condition worse.

If youve ever gone through phases where you experienced excessive feelings of euphoria, a decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, and impulsive behavior, consider getting evaluated for bipolar disorder.

Need to talk to someone?

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Know Someone: How Do You Help Someone With Depression

Seeing someone go through a depressive episode, you might leave you feeling ill-equipped to help them. You might feel like you dont know what to say or do, or youre afraid youll say or do the wrong thing. However, if you learn about what depression is, you have the ability to help someone suffering with it, even if it means just empathizing with them.

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Achieving Remission In Patients With Physical Symptoms

Treating both the emotion and the physical symptoms associated with depression together is an important part of achieving remission. Unlike selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as sertraline and paroxetine, the dual-action antidepressants venlafaxine and duloxetine inhibit the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. This dual action gives them a robust efficacy in combating depression and preventing the persistence of symptoms, which increases the likelihood of achieving remission. Numerous reports have indicated that therapeutic agents that act on multiple neurotransmitters are associated with higher rates of remission than are single agents. The selection of therapeutic agents proven to effectively promote both an elimination of a broad spectrum of symptoms and a return to full social functioning is important to the treatment of depression.

Because a majority of patients with depression initially seek treatment for the physical symptoms of depression rather than for their emotional symptoms, physicians are often aware of patients’ physical symptoms when treatment commences. Primary care physicians may want to consider using dual-action antidepressants as a first line-treatment in depressed patients who present with physical symptoms.

Depression Feels Like Forever

What Does Depression Feel Like? 7 Powerful Quotes That ...

When asked what is missing from the common understanding of depressive feelings, Hanna believes that recognising how long the sensations last is at the core of depression misconceptions.

The feelings do not fade away as you would expect them to if you were, for example, sad or uninterested in something, Hanna explains. The negative feelings are so persistent you cant snap out of it depressed feelings can take hold of a person. Emotions do not change from moment to moment.

These negative sensations can be compared to the deep sadness and grief that many of us have felt on occasion. However, it is the devastating perpetuity of these feelings that separate depression from even the lowest lows of a depression free life. Daniel similarly cautioned against assimilating depression with commonly understood sadness.

The popular picture, that I kind of bought into, was: depression is a sad person, adds Daniel. The individual is sad about something. Sometimes they know what theyre sad about, sometimes they dont. Depression is a lot more complex.

The security of knowing better things are to come is something that depression strips away.

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Difficulty Waking Up At A Normal Time

In addition to making it difficult to fall asleep at nighttime, depression may cause you to struggle to wake up at a normal time in the morning and feel excessively sleeping during the daytime.

This is known as hypersomnia, or excessive time spent sleeping. Data published by the Sleep Foundation indicates that around 15 percent of people with depression struggle with hypersomnia.

Hypersomnia and insomnia may come and go during periods of depression, causing alternating sleep issues.

How Is Depression Treated

The first step to getting treatment is to see your GP. If your GP thinks you have depression, they will talk to you about the treatments they can offer.

What are talking therapies?

Talking therapy is a general term to describe any psychological therapy that involves talking. You may also hear the terms counselling or psychotherapy used to describe talking therapy.

Therapy should offer you a safe, confidential place to talk about your life and anything confusing, painful or uncomfortable. It allows you to talk with someone who is trained to listen attentively and to help you improve things.

Talking therapy often takes place face to face. But you may also be able to have therapy over the phone, by video call or online. There are different types of talking therapy that you might be offered. These include:

  • cognitive-behavioural therapy,
  • mindfulness based therapy, and
  • counselling.

The type of therapy you are offered will depend on the cause of your symptoms and their severity. Therapies may also have different levels based on how long or intense the treatment is.

Ask your GP about therapy if you think it might help. Some of these therapies will be available in your area. Some areas offer a self-referral option for NHS talking therapies. Please refer to your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service to find out about this option.

You may also be able to access therapy privately or through your employer in an Employee Assistance Programme.

How can exercise help?

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Symptom #6 Youre Never In The Mood

For many people, depression has a marked impact on sexual libido whether its due to emotional reasons or physical reasons . Even anti-depressants can affect peoples sex drive.

Whatever the case, its worth talking to your doctor about a change in sex drive, to pinpoint the cause and find a solution sometimes a simple change in medication or treatment can help. It might feel awkward, but remember, doctors are professionals and its their job to help.

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Everyone experiences times in their life when they are unhappy or feeling low. The feeling may last for a short period of time then you move on. Depression is more than just a temporary feeling of lows. Its a mood disorder with a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can affect much more than simply how you feel and it isnt something you can easily just snap out of.

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Mild And Moderate Depression

These are the most common types. More than simply feeling blue, the symptoms of mild depression can interfere with your daily life, robbing you of joy and motivation. Those symptoms become amplified in moderate depression and can lead to a decline in confidence and self-esteem.

Recurrent, mild depression

Dysthymia is a type of chronic low-grade depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood.

  • The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time .
  • Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as double depression.
  • If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like youve always been depressed. Or you may think that your continuous low mood is just the way you are.

Common Causes And Risk Factors

Depression can be caused by a number of factors. Though a single cause cannot always be found, experts recognize the following as possible causes:

  • Genetics: Depression and other mood disorders can run in families, though family history alone does not mean a person will get depression.
  • Life events: Major life changes and stressful events may trigger depression. These events include divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss, or financial problems.
  • Hormonal changes: Depression and low mood are often
  • cultural expectations
  • differences in experience

One study of twin brothers and sisters published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that personality and relationships with others were more likely to play a role in the onset of depression.

In particular, the study stated that marital problems, the relationship with parents, and lack of social support were more likely to cause depression in women than in men.

Neuroticism, or being in a negative emotional state, was also a primary cause of depression in the women studied.

A study in the Journal of Affective Disorders also found that womens symptoms of depression were different. The women studied were more likely to have panic and anxiety disorders in addition to their depression.

Other studies have indicated that women may be more likely to gain weight and have excessive sleepiness than men.

Womens hormone changes may also play a role in how and when depression affects them.

Research on this hormonal link has found:

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