10 Depression Quotes That May Change Your Life
Updated October 06, 2018
Reviewer Deborah Horton
Sometimes the only way to understand depression is by hearing the wisdom of others. When we get wrapped up in our problems and our point of view, we may not be able to see things. We let our intuition be our guide rather than looking at things objectively.
This is why we've compiled ten depression quotes that can help put life and mental illness in proper perspective. By listening to the experiences of others, you can gain deeper insight into who you are and what you need to be happy. Some of these depression quotes are by authors, while others are quotes about depression by doctors. Some of the quotes will hit close to your heart while others may challenge you to expand your mindset on an issue you thought you already knew all about.
- "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
This quote may be contrary to the dogma that says that depression is best treated with antidepressant drugs. Prescription drugs are not a guaranteed cure and most treatment, even if it's based on evidence from clinical trials, is experimental.
One study from the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999 found that exercise helped moderate even severe instances of depression. One hundred and fifty-six men and women suffering from depression were surveyed; one-third of these people were enrolled in an aerobic exercise program, one-third on SSRI drugs (Zoloft) and the other third did both. After sixteen weeks, all three groups reported alleviation of depression; over sixty percent even went so far as to say they no longer felt symptoms of major depression.
Studies like these strongly suggest that for those individuals who do not want to try using medication for depression, certain lifestyle changes like regular exercise can substitute or even surpass the effects of antidepressant treatment. Whether you're afraid of the idea of taking medication, can't afford it, or resistant to the idea for other reasons, professional therapy is on your side. Many patients have found ways to manage major depression or bipolar disorder using talk therapy, and instituting lifestyle changes that work with their mood cycles.
- "The so-called 'psychotically depressed' person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote 'hopelessness' or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors."
-David Foster Wallace, Author
Perhaps many of us, depressed or not, could benefit from understanding more of what suicidal urges are and what they feel like. This may help everyone to comprehend what depression is and how to help those who suffer from it.
It's not a point of madness. It's simply a realization that the agony of life is more intense than the long sleep of death. Maybe it's no coincidence that suicide rates increase among the population who struggle with:
- Financial Trouble
- Childlessness or Grown Children Moving Out
- Living Alone
- A history of sexual abuse
- Social ostracism
Other alarming facts on suicide compiled by Medical News Today, suggest that suicidal thoughts or "suicidal ideation" eventually lead to an estimated 30,000 deaths a year. However, the vast majority of the depressed who struggle with these thoughts do not act on the urges. There has also been evidence suggesting:
- 80 percent of all suicides are male
- There is an increased risk of suicidal behavior among people with a family history of mental illness
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds
Some doctors believe that suicidal ideation may result merely from upswings in the mood cycle. According to some studies, antidepressant treatment, such as SSRIs, may be effective for treatment, but this depends on the ability to treat both the root psychiatric disorder and the suicidal thoughts separately.
One reason why some medication can increase suicidal thoughts or even attempts is because the medication increases energy levels first without elevating the patient's mood. Therefore, it's important to find a psychiatrist (not just a general family practitioner) that takes an active interest in the patient's symptoms and changes in thought patterns.
While there is no firm agreement and the cause of suicidal tendencies, though everything from poverty to culture has been blamed, overwhelmingly, most suicides occur among those who suffer from other mental disorders, like depression, bipolar, panic disorder, borderline, dissociative identity disorder, PTSD and social anxiety.
Some other contributing factors, at least statistically speaking, include a history of substance abuse, family violence, isolation from others, legal problems, sleep deprivation and homelessness-and particularly among the LBGTQ population who have lost their family support.
Though depression is a studied factor, it does appear that reactive depression or adjustment disorder is the most prevalent, since significant life events seem to bring about the hopelessness that makes life painful.
But the problem may well be in keeping silent…
- "Depression has been called the world's number one public health problem. In fact, 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
The idea that depression is treatable without medication has given credence to the concept that people can "fix their depression, " and this is dangerous. In fact, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 50 percent of all people who commit suicide suffer from major depression. For alcoholics who suffered from depression and committed suicide, the numbers were as high as seventy-five percent.
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 under-qualified to tell you something like that. In many cases, major depression and bipolar disorder go can untreated and undiagnosed for years.
The individual suffers greatly during this time when help could be right around the corner. Today, with online counseling, it's easier than ever before to get help with no great financial obligation. 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.
- "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. There is no cure, and there is no reason to expect a total recovery from a depressive episode, besides blind optimism. Depression, bipolar and other disorders can be either long-term or lifelong conditions. At this point, doctors may choose to focus on maintenance therapy or continuation therapy.
The difference, according to Drs. Dunner and Keller, who researched recurrent depression, continuation therapy helps to prevent relapse-to suppress symptoms. This type of therapy lasts several months. Maintenance therapy prevents recurrence, once the initial continuation treatment phase ends. Maintenance therapy may also turn into lifelong treatment if the patient and doctor think it's necessary.
Regardless of whether medication is recommended, or if you choose the path of counseling and lifestyle change, it is important to note that fighting depression will be a lifelong battle. Often depression returns because a person becomes lax in keeping up these new routines established with the mood shifts in mind. Patients who stop taking their medication are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts or experiencing more severe symptoms.
Some doctors, such as Mark Hyman, even state that antidepressants don't work, since recent tests suggested placebos were just as effective as antidepressant drugs.
While there is some evidence suggesting antidepressants can help, but we can glean from these studies is that long-term recovery or coping with depression cannot depend on medication-especially if the depression returns over a person's lifetime. Equally or more important than taking medication would be learning coping strategies through talk therapy with a counselor or group therapy.
The obligation to "get better" comes from the sufferer; it is not up to the doctor alone to make this happen. You, with the help of a medical or counseling professional, have to make a lifelong commitment to preventing relapses and minimizing the darkest episodes. In too many cases, this will involve learning about triggers and how to adjust your attitude and daily circumstances so that you can gain power over depression.
- "Keep yourself busy if you want to avoid depression. For me, inactivity is the enemy." - Matt Lucas, Comedian
While there is always the personal anecdote to contradict this bit of advice, it is safe to say that busier people tend to be less depressed than those who remain "idle" for longer periods of time.
The problem is someone telling you that you should "get busy and stop feeling depressed" is an offensive thing to say and not medically true. 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 moods of happiness 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.
- "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, which are already severe. Over time, you may begin to the think of the depression you feel as a part of your personality…a flaw that defines you and your existence. But as the quotes for depression suggests, this is the result of low self-esteem. And depression should not be a part of your character, something you constantly feel the need to apologize for.
Low self-esteem contributes to depression. Multiple studies have shown the correlation between negative thoughts and the decisions it causes us to make, which result 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.
A 2005 study from Michigan State University and other institutions, found that low self-esteem was related to anti-social aggression and the externalizing of problems. The study mentioned that low self-esteem aggression from children and adults was independent of the common narcissistic traits that predicted negative anti-social behavior.
Simply put, our negative thoughts can quickly influence how we treat others, and in the case of depression, how we treat ourselves.
The Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin found it useful to focus on three "faces" of low self-esteem:
- People who pretend to be happy but who require peripheral success to stay satisfied
- People who rebel against authority and blame others for their actions
- People who play the victim and wait for others to help them with their problems
The center notes that all three types of profiles are caused by the same problem: low self-esteem, which starts to warp the perspectives of the depressed person. This warped perspective only worsens reactive forms of depression, making the sufferer feel more despair because they are not focusing on the real issue.
Counselors and doctors will then make it a priority to guide the patient towards therapy that improves self-esteem and challenges these warped perspectives that feed into continuing depression cycles.
In the words of Deborah Serani, Psy.D, patients with low self-esteem and depression should be challenged with questions that challenge negative thoughts.
- What evidence supports my conclusion?
- Do others say this or is it just you?
- How does thinking this way make me feel?
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…something a depressed person may not be able to do without guidance.
- "You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle."-Julian Seifter, Author
Often our society is over-reliant on medication as a quick fix and tells the depressed population that they have a "disease" and they need to squash all the symptoms as soon as possible.
However, 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.
Some people have learned to live with depression, after seeing a counselor, and have found that making active changes in their lives has provided the help they need without the necessity of medication. Some in creative fields find that bipolar moods can enhance creative peaks.
An article in Psychology Today illustrated this fact by quoting two different studies suggesting that among "prominent authors," 80 percent of them reported at least one episode of severe depression, mania or hypomania. The article by Neel Burton, MD, later stated that bipolar with its creative peaks could indicate some "evolutionary or adaptive advantage."
So while we're not suggesting that you ignore symptoms, the medical community does suggest that you stop viewing depression as a debilitating "illness" - one that characterizes you as a person. You are not your illness, in the words of John M. Grohol, Psy.D., who writes "Please stop referring to yourself as nothing more than a diagnostic label. It gives short shrift to and doesn't honor your complexity and uniqueness as a person. You deserve better."
The truth is many people who have suffered from depression have lived full, exciting and very productive lives. Many innovated new technology or gave 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.
- "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 the 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 gives credence to practically all religions and so-called "Higher Powers" (mentioned prominently in the famous 12-Step-Program of Alcoholics Anonymous) that claim to help adherents with depression through meditation and positive thinking.
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 though is that you can find peace of mind by thought transformation.
- "Happiness [is] only real when shared."
- Jon Krakauerm, Author
Deep depression quotes like this are especially fitting when you consider that Into the Wild author Jon Krakauerm very likely did commit suicide by recklessly wandering into Alaskan wilderness without much of a plan.
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, even strangers, according to test. The study revealed introverts who "acted in an extroverted way" reported more positive feelings than the 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 talk 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.
Talk more…rant, rave and let everything out. At first, it may be to a friend or trusted family member. Then the next step might be to talk to a counselor. Taking small steps can help you towards your goal at a comfortable pace that lets you feel safe. What matters is that you are discussing the problem and coming to terms with the idea that others can help you through this.
- "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.
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 your feelings out.
If anything, hopefully, these depression quotes have helped you realize that you are not alone in your struggle and there are always sources for help.
You don't have to tell a doctor immediately nor is medication going to be forced upon you. All you have to do is talk to a counselor. A licensed counselor is available right now, even in a convenient online format. Help with depression may be just a click away so why not look and see what good can happen from reaching out to others who care?