How to explain depression, according to Twitter

What is depression?

I love this quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, about how to explain depression: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

That’s so true isn’t it? We all carry weights on our shoulders, like those water bucket carriers from days of old.  What sort of sadness is sloshing around in those buckets? Do you keep your buckets covered and their contents secret, or do you let people see what’s inside?

Depression is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. For me, it is fatigue, lack of motivation, and fluctuations in appetite.  For others, it can be anger, or issues with sleep.

How would you define it? I asked Twitter to define depression in 140 characters or less. This is what they came up with.

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How to explain depression

“Darkness embraced me and is now the closest lifelong friend I’ll ever know, who robs me of any ability to enjoy or care or function or try.” @arcanedrag0n (

“Depression is like drowning. I always feel the weight of the worthlessness and hopelessness choking me.” @thestrugglejugg (

“Depression is putting on make up, getting dressed, and going to work while no one knows that you had to lay in bed for 2 hours to do it.” @ashley_runals (

“Depression is dark, it stops you from doing the simplest of things, answering the phone, isolation, personal hygiene…” @ladyfibro (

“Depression is a black hole with no escape. Each wall taller than the other, there’s no light shining through. Everything is gray and bleak…” @CCaffeinatedmom (

“Depression feels like you’ve been carrying the weight of the world for too long and you’ve forgotten your worth and value.” @KellyMartin_UK (

“Depression on me looks like someone who stays in bed all day, doesn’t shower, and cries in the walk-in closet. It’s also not calling anyone…” @sheedahsunshine (http:/

“Depression is like having a thick, black tar that seeps through your mind. It turns the good stuff bad & makes your thoughts jumbled, dark…” @MeditativeO (

how to explain depression

“I think it’s like being surrounded by fear: fear of making mistakes, fear of people judging your every move, fear of saying No, fear of loss…” @snumanali

It’s a sense of apathy.

“A sense of apathy and disconnect that leaves me not caring about anything.  Whilst conversely feeling so sensitive and full of shame…” @TheMINDBERG (

“Depression is like drowning in darkness. You’re continuing to fall down this void and can’t imagine a way out…” @lifebeautymom (

“Living in a fog.  Like living through life sleepwalking while carrying around burdens that you can’t seem to unload…” @Tiffanys_Blog

“Like you fell into a deep well and can’t find the strength or will to climb up the sides or find a way out.  There is no point to anything…” @lindengroveblog

“Depression is like falling into a deep, dark well. The further you fall, the further the light becomes. Then you feel nothing.” @DgtlButterfly

“It feels like my emotions have been taken away from me and all I’m left is with unending apathy. Like there’s a void within me…” @Caedere4 (

It’s like a boulder.

“Depression is like that famous boulder… it rolls over you but you can’t out run it! And it weighs you down!” @DisabledDisney (

“Depression is my thief in the night, silently stealing my hope, joy, faith. Who would even want to steal from such an empty hole?…”

“It’s like that scene in Never Ending Story. Where Atreyu and his horse are in the swamp of sadness.”

“It feels like a permanent state of exhaustion and hopelessness. And always wanting someone to have a magic wand to make it better.” @Tenderfootmum (

“Waking up every morning under six feet of sand you have to claw through before getting dressed. Then if you even make it out, you feel unproductive…”

“For me, depression manifests as sadness, lack of interest in everything, & lack of desire to do anything…” @MomminReal (

what is depression

“For me, depression was voices. It was someone screaming in my head. It was the voice in my brain telling me I would never be good enough…”(

It can’t always be seen.

“Depression can’t always be seen. Often those who are seemingly the happiest, are the most depressed. It’s not something we can just get over.” (

“Depression wears many faces and mine is rooted in pain. I live in emotional and physical pain every day.” @DragonsCodex

“Depression feels like a fog. You’re living in the gray, you can’t see the sun. The fog is thick and moving through it takes all your strength.”

“Depression can make you feel like your alone despite being surrounded by hundreds of people. It can talk you out of pretty much anything…” @TalesofJenn (

“Depression by itself is a negative emotional state. It’s a fight with your thoughts, feelings and acts. It’s an emptiness and darkness…” @small_guide (

“On most days, my depression is subtle. It’s like coming up for air except, each breath is shallow and rushed rather than paced and natural…”

“Depression to me has been making myself do everyday things like go to work & take care of my son but all I want to do is be left alone…” @blu_temptation (

how do you describe depression

How common is depression?

I gave my Twitter followers a poll. I asked them who considered themselves depressed or had in the past, and who did not. Out of 15 people, 100% said that they had suffered from some form of depression at some point in their life.

An overwhelming number. It just goes to show how far we have to go when it comes to resources and support.

Let me know in the comments what your best way of describing it would be. And don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful!

How would you describe depression?

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Related posts about what depression is:

Depression Explained in 140 Characters or Less

How to Recognize the Physical Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Eating for Depression and Anxiety

7 Interesting Facts About Anxiety

5 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

50 Must Have Mental Health Resources

116 thoughts on “How to explain depression, according to Twitter”

    1. Hey kita, sadly that is still true! People act like it’s just something you can “get over.” That’s why I will never stop speaking up. Thanks for reading!

  1. It’s nice that you’re doing this post. I know many who suffer from depression. I’m sure I did when I was younger too. It’s definitely not something I wish anyone would have to go through either. It can be hard to deal with.

  2. It is very interesting how others explain depression. We all feel it differently yet similarly. I think if I had to explain depression I would say that it’s a lost feeling combined with a sadness inside. You may not cry or sleep or have those fatigued feelings to the extreme, but your soul feels tired/lost.

  3. I imagine this is tough to go through. I am glad it’s being spoken about more. I know it can help so many others. There’s nothing wrong with having depression and the more it’s talked about, the more people will understand that.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I love that it shows that the experience with depression isn’t necessarily the same from one person to the next. There is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, making conversations like this so important. The only way that we are going to help society understand the truth is by pulling back the curtain.

  5. Wow, it’s amazing how relatable all these are and also how many different ways people can express a condition. It shows how differently it affects people. Love this.

  6. Oh, how I can relate to some of these. It clearly feels different to everyone but some of these are written in such a heartbreakingly beautiful way. Thank you for compiling this list.

  7. I love the descriptions people used for depression! So many times I’ve tried to describe it to people who could never really understand what I have gone through. Thanks so much for this! Sometimes, the fact that others understand make me feel more hopeful.

  8. I know several people who have suffered from depression and/or anxiety. Even though they didn’t put it into words to me, I’m sure that they would relate to these quotes. It is really painful to watch someone you love struggle with depression. Although it took quite a while to get an appointment with a health care professional, my loved one was finally able to get the help she needed. The in-between time was absolutely awful for everyone who loves her, as well as the individual.

  9. It is interesting to read the quotes and understand how different it can be for different people. It is so necessary to be able to talk about it so that it can be understood.

  10. I didn’t know I was depressed, clinically, until my wife insisted I speak with someone. I’m grateful I finally put my pride to the side and headed her advice.

    I’ve learned so much from reading the quotes from other people just about how widespread depression really is and what depression means or feels like to different people.

    I’ll refer to this post often. Thank you. It makes one not feel so alone.

  11. Like being at the bottom of a pit, you can, sometimes, just see a glint of light, you try and pull your way towards it and sometimes you get closer and sometimes the rubble below your gives way and you fall back.

  12. For me, I definitely get very irritated when I’m having mood fluctuations. That may be because of the constant switching from high to low confusing my brain and irritating me, or it may be that I’m just irritated with myself for not being able to get out of bed. I also always feel super fatigued and have no motivation whatsoever. It’s definitely different for each individual, but there are some symptoms that most people have! xx

  13. Pam Wattenbarger

    As a person who’s dealt with depression for years, I’m glad we’re finally able to talk about it. I know it feels different for everyone, but I can identify with all those quotes.

  14. Although every account sounded different, for someone who battles with depression and anxiety, I identified with every quote made by Twitter followers. I really love that Longfellow quote by the way. I’m so glad that mental health awareness is a thing now. I feel like my family finally understands why I need medicine and that I’m not just taking an easy way out. Oh I almost forgot, I got the deck of affirmation cards you mentioned in another post. I absolutely love them.

  15. As a therapist these quotes are a great representation of how different depression can present for adults and kids too. The dsm criteria gives us a standard way to diagnose but it’s really a change in that baseline that should be a red flag!

  16. These assessments of depression, from people of Twitter, were chilling because I knew, but hadn’t processed how widespread depression is and how it affects people in so many different ways.

  17. It’s fascinating to read about other people’s perspective of depression. I personally would describe it emptiness. You have no appetite even when you’re hungry, you can’t sleep even if you’re tired. You can’t feel a thing even if you’re consumed by hopelessness. It’s a strange feeling. But it can be comforting to know that I am not alone.

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