What 'I Don't Feel Good' Means For A Person With Depression

By Corrina Horne |Updated August 1, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Karen Devlin, LPC

“I don’t feel good” can mean a lot of things. For a child, it can mean, “Please don’t make me go to school today.” For someone else, it might mean, “I’m sick” or “I have a headache.” And for others, “I don’t feel good” can mean, “I need help” or “I need a break.” When you have a depressive disorder, “I don’t feel good” can cover a multitude of problems and should never be ignored. Seeking help from an online therapist can help you figure out what is going on and create a treatment plan. Your health and wellness are crucial.

Depression’s Ebbs and Flows

It's Okay To Not Feel Good. The First Step Is Recognizing.

Although many would surmise that depression is a chronic state of “I don’t feel good,” this isn’t necessarily the case. Depression can come with immense ebbs and flows. One minute you might feel relatively normal, and the next you may feel sick, weighed down by pain, uncertainty, or apathy. “I don’t feel good,” then, should absolutely be listened to, rather than being discounted. Not feeling good can indicate that depressive symptoms are flaring up or worsening. This article discusses how depression impacts those who struggle with it on a daily basis.

One of the hallmarks of depression is the tendency to move back and forth between feelings. Although Bipolar Disorder is characterized by more intense highs and lows, most people with depression can attest to experiencing a wide range of feelings – many of them overwhelming – on any given day. Depressive symptoms can include irritability, anger, and fear, which can manifest as lashing out, withdrawing from others, or constantly walking on eggshells, all of which can fall under the umbrella of simply not feeling well.

Why Saying “I Don’t Feel Good” Is Important in Depression

Though it is a common enough phrase, “I don’t feel good” is an important phrase in the life of someone with depression. This phrase can help you set boundaries with friends or family when you don’t feel like imparting a long story or history of your condition but also helps you get the social support that’s so important when you’re struggling with a mental health diagnosis. Revealing you don’t feel well can be a way of indicating you aren’t up for a night of partying, without having to divulge your depressive symptoms. Saying you don’t feel well can give your employer an idea of your condition – not feeling well enough to work – without having to give an exact, distinct response as to what it is that doesn’t feel well.

“I don’t feel good” is an important phrase to have when you experience depression. Depression symptoms can leap up unexpectedly and can be debilitating in carrying out everyday tasks – and that’s okay. Everyone needs a break from time to time, even those without a mood disorder, so recognizing that you don’t feel well, and that you need some space and support to process, rest, or even visit with your therapist is a healthy thing, and can be one of your greatest tools in making sure you are giving yourself the space and energy to heal. “I don’t feel good” in depression can be a sign of many things, but perhaps the most important one is this: “I don’t feel good” means “I need help and support.”

Help can come in many forms. If you or a loved one has depression and uses the phrase “I don’t feel good,” this does not mean you need to run out and find your provider or your family member’s provider, and immediately change medications or medication dosages, or something similarly drastic. Instead, it can simply mean that you need to slow down, step back, and evaluate yourself and your state. Remember that you are not your depression: the things you feel do not dictate who you are, and “I don’t feel good” can simply mean needing to reconnect with yourself, your goals, and your needs.

The Light in the Dark

Although depression can be a debilitating disorder, it is not one experienced entirely in isolation; depression affects approximately 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Fortunately, of the people who receive treatment, approximately 80% notice a significant improvement in symptoms following treatment. This is good news and a great example of how seeking help and support can be life changing. While it may seem hopeless when you’re in the midst of depressive symptoms, or you might feel worthless, there are safe, effective treatment options to help you manage your symptoms, so that “I don’t feel good” is not a constant refrain, and serves as a reminder to engage in additional self-care. If you are scared, angry or confused, try seeking help from an online therapy resource. You don't have to go through this alone.

Depression treatment can vary in terms of duration and techniques. Some people find their depression is best treated through various medical and therapeutic modalities, while others feel more comfortable relying primarily on pharmaceutical intervention. Still others combine different forms of treatment, as well as enlisting the help of lifestyle changes, such as improving dietary habits, engaging in regular exercise, seeking social support, and taking on mindfulness practices in order to re-center themselves. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all prescription, and is instead tailored to each patient’s unique goals and needs. No matter what you’re feeling, online therapy can help alleviate your symptoms of depression.

Regardless of the exact treatment protocol, the fact remains: depression is treatable. For many, the most difficult part of treatment is actually getting out of the door, and getting to a therapist in order to begin a solid, consistent treatment regimen. This is, perhaps, one of the most insidious parts of depression: it can render you helpless in the face of your own illness, and can make seeking help extremely difficult. Many people feel as though depression is indicative of a personal flaw or failing, rather than seeing it for what it is: a legitimate, serious illness.

The Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of depression cover a large array of mental and medical processes. The illness can manifest through mood changes, apathy, irritability, anger, prolonged sadness, guilt, shame, or hopelessness. Physically, depression can show up in the form of difficulty sleeping, dizziness, muscle aches, feelings of exhaustion, tension, as well as unexplained changes in weight, including both weight loss and gain.

What Causes Depression

There is no single cause of depression. Having a family member with depression, substance abuse, chemical imbalances, stress, and even medication can all be sources of depression. Just as depression itself is multifaceted in its symptoms, it is multifaceted and unique in its sources. Researchers are evaluating the possible causes of depression, and although they have continually identified risk factors, there is still no definitive reason for depression.

This is both good and bad news. The good news is it is highly unlikely you’ve done something that has led to your development of depression. Blaming yourself is not only unproductive, it is not backed up by research. Instead, understanding your background and environment can lend insight into why you have developed depression. Working through your genetic history and background can often also be a key to healing your depression and moving forward with your life.

Therapy and Your Environment

It's Okay To Not Feel Good. The First Step Is Recognizing.

Because the complexities of depression include how it starts, where it comes from, and whether or not you are particularly susceptible, the ins and outs of depression are better navigated and worked through with the help of a medical or mental health professional. Therapists do not merely sit in a chair with a clipboard and pen and listen as you list all your thoughts and feelings. Instead, therapists act as guides through your own story and history, stepping in now and again to highlight a thought, idea, or memory that might be partially responsible for some of what you are feeling. Touching on these points in your thinking allows you to identify any potential triggers you have, and work on soothing those triggers, or eradicating them entirely.

While therapy was once considered an eccentric luxury, this antiquated notion is well on its way to extinction. Virtually everyone can benefit from some form of therapy or another, even if depressive symptoms are not extreme. Increasingly, childhood trauma is becoming recognized as common, rather than an anomaly, and working through this trauma, fears, and confusion is a powerful part of growing up, and learning how to live your life in a healthy, happy way.

Although the treatment options for depression can include medical intervention, pharmaceutical intervention, and lifestyle alterations, therapy is one of the most effective and most useful ways to combat depressive symptoms, and is a worthwhile tool to have in your arsenal. Since COVID, online therapy resources have been more effective than ever. Below, some users of BetterHelp detail their success in working with online therapists, and the support they received.

Client Experiences

“Karen has helped me challenge some long-held beliefs – stories I had been telling myself about my life’s experiences. Stories that had kept me stuck for decades. With her help, I’ve cleared the path and began to move forward with greater compassion for myself. I’m grateful to her for allowing me to see my lifelong experiences in a much more useful way and cannot recommend her highly enough!”

“I have been working with Latise for several months and could not be more pleased. She is flexible with her schedule and our weekly sessions have made a huge difference with my anxiety and depression. I would recommend her to anyone that is in need of counseling.”

When “I Don’t Feel Good” Becomes Overwhelming

Depression can feel overwhelming, and the reasons for it are complex and drastically different from person to person. Despite this, there is hope: depression is one of the most treatable mood disorders. A diagnosis of depression need not be a life sentence. With time, determination, and plenty of help, your depression and corresponding “I don’t feel good” can be the exception, not the rule, and you can experience contentment and joy in your life. If you need advice or help, take the first step today. Some people who have received successful treatment regret not getting help sooner. Therapy has many purposes can help for your past, present, and future. There are various types of therapy each with different aspects pertaining to the type of need from clients. 

Commonly Asked Questions About This Topic

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