10 Depression Quotes That May Change Your Life

Updated March 29, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Sometimes the only way to understand depression is by reading the wisdom of others. Mental illness and related complications can be tough, and sometimes leave us feeling as though we are alone. The truth is that no matter what we may be facing—whether it’s substance abuse or other mental health issues—we are never alone. The advice and wisdom of others can play a pivotal role in battling mental illness and achieving wellness. When we get wrapped up in our point of view, we may not be able to see things. This is why we've compiled ten depression quotes that can help put life and mental illness in proper perspective. Some of the quotes might hit close to your heart, while others may challenge you to expand your mindset on an issue.

Dealing With Depression Is Hard. But There Are Ways To Get Through It.

9 Depression Quotes

  1. "Human bodies are designed for regular physical activity. The sedentary nature of much of modern life probably plays a significant role in the epidemic incidence of depression today. Many studies show that depressed patients who stick to a regimen of aerobic exercise improve as much as those treated with medication."

-Andrew Weil, MD Guru of Alternative Medicine

There are many studies available about how exercise can be useful for fighting depression. Exercise is largely viewed as a helpful tool against depression and other mental health issues due to the hormones released when getting your body moving. Endorphins help to produce chemicals in your body that produce happiness; this is only the starting point and one of many reasons why exercise can help combat mental illness. 

This is not to say that exercise, in and of itself, will erase mental illness, mental health disorders, substance abuse, etc.; however, exercise can play a role in counteracting mental health issues, especially when you are taking other healthy measures to combat mental illness. Some studies even claim that regular exercise can be used in place of antidepressants. Here is one study with confirmed results, and an article from the Washington Post that breaks down the findings. This study helps to confirm what has been researched for years: regular exercise can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Perhaps many of us, depressed or not, could benefit from understanding more about what suicidal urges are and what they feel like. This may help everyone to comprehend what depression is and how to help those who experience it. It’s important to note that depression is a serious mental illness. Many individuals who struggle with depression also find themselves fighting other battles that stem from this mental health issue; some examples of these battles include emotional disorders, substance abuse, and more.

Unfortunately, not everyone who lives with depression is aware that they are dealing with a serious mental health issue. Even though depression in and of itself is a mental illness, some people may believe that individuals who have depression should simply get over it. This is a very dangerous misconception that can often trigger substance abuse and other problems. Due to depression being such a serious mental health issue, access to mental health services is imperative and statistically shown to help those who struggle with mental illness. Beyond the statistics, everybody surrounding the person experiencing depression needs to offer an open and understanding ear so that they can make the most important step in recovery: asking for help. If the person in the burning building could see the pilot in the helicopter shouting, they would not need to jump.

  1. "Depression has been called the world's number one public health problem. Depression is so widespread it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances. But there is a grim difference between depression and a cold. Depression can kill you."

- David D. Burns, adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine

Depression is a psychological illness that requires medical treatment, the same way that strep throat is a physical illness that requires medical treatment.

The worst advice anyone can give you is to say, "Don't worry, the depression will pass. You'll get over it." These people may mean well, but they don't know all the factors, and thus are dangerously underqualified to tell you something like that. Generally, mental illness is not something that will simply “pass” or be “gotten over.” That’s just not how mental illness works, whether it comes in the form of depression or something else entirely.

There can be all kinds of reasons that someone struggles with mental health issues or mental illness; in many cases, different forms of abuse and mental health problems can feed into one another. Sometimes, people turn to substance abuse as a means of coping with mental illness or mental health issues. Whether dealing with depression or some other mental health issue, it is always important to be mindful of the gravity of the mental illness.

In many cases, major depression and bipolar disorder can be untreated and undiagnosed for years. The individual endures greatly during this time when help could be right around the corner. Don't let other people think for you, or make you suppress your fears. Talk to a professional who can offer you guidance when you're feeling depressed.

  1. "Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I've made that commitment for my life's sake and for the sake of those who love me."

- Susan Polis Schutz, Poet

This may well be a forgotten truth about depression. Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses can be long-term or lifelong conditions. After improvement, doctors may choose to focus on maintenance therapy or continuation therapy. What’s important to remember is that treatment methods can vary for everyone. Someone who struggles with substance abuse may require a different form of care than someone else who battles with a different form of mental illness. Psychological disorders, substance abuse, and other mental health issues can and do vary from one another. Therefore, the process of making your life better, going through different treatments, therapies, etc., is a unique experience for each individual.

As you work through depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, or other mental health issues, try to resist the temptation of comparing yourself to others. Getting the mental health services you need is an amazing step forward. No matter what it is you’re going through, the journey to mental health is not a race. Battling mental illness requires work, time, assistance, and dedication; don’t be afraid to focus on your journey and your journey alone.

In the end, focusing on your mental health will be much more productive than comparing yourself to someone else’s mental health journey. You never know what a person is dealing with or going through behind the scenes; it could be substance abuse and mental health problems, or another matter altogether. Focus on what’s best for you and don’t be afraid to confide in your doctors.

  1. "Keep yourself busy if you want to avoid depression. For me, inactivity is the enemy."

- Matt Lucas, Comedian

The notion that you should "get busy and stop feeling depressed" can be quite offensive. If a person has major depression, more aggressive treatment is required before that person can feel motivated to get busy. However, there is also some truth to the idea that more mental activity and more active tasks can be a part of effective therapy. One study from the University of Chicago and Shanghai Jiaotong University found that busier subjects reported greater happiness levels than subjects who were instructed to remain idle for an extended period.

Dr. Christopher K. Hsee expanded the argument suggesting that people instinctively "dread idleness…" and they tend to want to stay busy. However, they must feel what he calls "justification" for staying busy, or else they'd rather choose idleness than do something just because someone suggests they do it. Therefore, after the initial depression treatment, a doctor or counselor will work with you to find activities that stimulate your passion in life, your creativity, and your desire to socialize with others. It's only natural that we thrive in an active social environment, and by excelling in something that gives us pride.

As people strive to prevent idleness, it’s important to engage in behaviors that are constructive and conducive to mental health. Destructive actions and behaviors, such as substance abuse, tend to worsen the state of one’s mental health while advancing issues that feed into mental illness. How a person chooses to keep busy can be greatly impacted by who they spend time with. For instance, an individual who is around others who engage in substance abuse may be more susceptible to this behavior.

Substance abuse and mental health are not a good combination; in fact, substance abuse can interfere with progress being made toward mental health. The inclination to avoid idleness is understandable; however, one must be mindful of the methods they employ, especially when battling mental illness.

  1. "In a strange way, I had fallen in love with my depression. Dr. Sterling was right about that. I loved it because I thought it was all I had. I thought depression was the part of my character that made me worthwhile. I thought so little of myself, felt that I had such scant offerings to give to the world, that the one thing that justified my existence at all was my agony."

- Elizabeth Wurtzel, Author

Depression is more than just negative thinking. But we can often forget how much negative thinking can worsen the symptoms of depression. Over time, you may begin to think of depression as a part of your personality or a flaw that defines you and your existence. But as the quotes for depression suggests, this is the result of low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem can contribute to depression. Multiple studies have shown the correlation between negative thoughts and the decisions it causes us to make, which results in predictable unhappiness. For example, one 2013 study from the Florida State University College of Medicine found that normal-weight teenagers who thought negatively and saw themselves as overweight were more likely to become obese in adulthood. Simply put, our negative thoughts could quickly influence how we treat others, and in the case of depression, how we treat ourselves. 

While low self-esteem contributes to depression, it can also cause or enable additional mental health issues, such as substance abuse. Negative thoughts can insidiously transition over to our mental health, emotional health, and even physical health. How you feel about yourself greatly impacts the decision you make, how you move through the world, and how you are perceived by others.

Thankfully, there are many great ways you can achieve a healthy self-image. Spending time with people who have your best interest at heart can make a huge difference, especially if you are already battling mental illness. Additional strategies to improve your self-esteem and self-image include, but certainly aren’t limited to the following: positive affirmations, taking up a new hobby, and even meditating.

People who have a healthy self-image are better able to feel good about their accomplishments and take pride in what they achieve. They are also able to set realistic goals and accomplish them, which is something a depressed person may not be able to do without guidance.

The mental health benefits that come along with high self-esteem and a healthy self-image are irreplaceable. If you are currently getting guidance for depression or some other mental illness, this is a step in the right direction. Taking on issues like substance abuse, mental illness, etc., is not easy, but it is worth it in the end. Regaining your mental health can only help you as individual and mental health services are a great way to make a personal change in your life.

  1. "You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, and a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle."

-Julian Seifter, Author

Most doctors and counselors that you speak to will warn you that depression, bipolar disorder, and other personality disorders, do not have to define you. And some, if not all, have no quick fix. Rather, it's a gradual and sometimes lifelong process of discovering ways to cope and reduce the more severe bouts of depression.

Many people who have experienced depression have lived full, exciting, and very productive lives. Many innovative new technologies have given inspiration to others with their art. A diagnosis of depression is certainly not a death sentence or any limitation on what you, as a complex individual, can accomplish.

  1. "A thickening of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression - particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease"

- Lisa Miller, professor, and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.

One of the most interesting studies of religion and spirituality and their effect on depression came from Miller and her team. Her findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, showed a "90 percent decrease in major depression in adults who said they highly valued spirituality or religiosity." However, it was not necessarily a faith-based opinion. After all, regular meditation was listed as well as spiritual meditation.

This certainly proves that our thoughts have great power over our minds and bodies. Clusters of negative or positive thoughts can begin to make shifts in our mood and continue to motivate us to more productive and happy lives. Finding your higher power may lead you to religion or more secular-based meditation. What matters, however, is that you can find peace of mind through thought transformation.

  1. "Happiness is only real when shared."

- Jon Krakauer, Author

The simplicity of the quote is heartfelt and true. We cannot find happiness in isolation. Money doesn't equal happiness if we lock ourselves away in a mansion far removed from the rest of society. We need people to be sociable with, to confide in, to share in their joy, and help to ease their pain. In return, they do the same for us.

Whether we enjoy large crowds or small groups of friends and family, the effect is the same. A study done by the American Psychological Association determined that even introverted people receive joy from talking to people. The study revealed introverts who "acted in an extroverted way" reported more positive feelings than introverts who remained instinctively quiet. When depression is a factor, social anxieties can be worsened, which is why doctors and counselors will recommend talk therapy, counseling, or even support group therapy to patients in addition to medication.

Depression quotes about being alone help us to confront the fact that we are not really "our own universe" all onto ourselves. We need other people to feel complete, even if our groups are local and small. Counselors may recommend talking therapy or more aggressive cognitive behavioral therapy, which seeks to alter our thought processes and actions. This form of therapy cannot be underestimated since it directly relates to our instinctive need to be happy when socializing with important people in our lives.

  1. "If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

- Fred Rogers

Lastly, don't forget the beloved Mr. Rogers and his advice on being happy. It's easy to become engrossed in our flawed and singular perspective. But never forget how important you are to other people…most of all, your friends and family who consider you an important part of their life and their happiness.

If you are living with mental illness, you may not believe Mr. Rogers' statement. I challenge you to challenge that thinking. People care about you. They do. You could even say that getting help with your depression (a condition that affects you and the people you love) is an act of love. You can contribute to someone else's peace of mind and in turn, may feel a great weight lifted off your shoulders when you finally do sit down and talk about your feelings. Hopefully, these quotes about depression have helped you realize that you are not alone in your struggle and that there are always sources for help.

Online Therapy

Research has shown that online mental health resources, including virtual counseling sessions, are effective for treating those who are experiencing symptoms of depression. In a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, a peer-reviewed healthcare journal, researchers found that online therapy tools can significantly improve symptoms of depression. Patients experiencing symptoms of depression received internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), guided by a therapist. The study found not only a decrease in the severity of depression symptoms, but also reduced anxiety symptoms, and a general increase in life satisfaction. Recently, CBT has become a widely accepted method of providing help due to its efficacy, ease of use, and minimal interruption of patients’ lives.

If the idea of traveling to and from an office, and sitting in a waiting room before face-to-face counseling seems daunting, BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors is available to you from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). BetterHelp has years of experience in helping to develop coping tools for depression so that you can move forward in the healthiest ways possible. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

Lauren has been extremely helpful to me in dealing with my anxiety and depression and getting me through some tough situations. I am extremely happy I got assigned to her and will continue to be her client. She is wonderful."

Dealing With Depression Is Hard. But There Are Ways To Get Through It.

Chris has helped me manage my depression and anxiety in meaningful, productive ways. He helps me gain a clearer perspective and identify negative thought patterns that are at odds with a healthy, positive outlook. I would recommend Chris to anybody else trying to deal with their depression."


Depression is a manageable and treatable illness. Help is right around the corner. All you need to do is take the first step.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

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