At the surface, we’ve all experienced some basic depression - feeling of sadness, unhappy at something, miserable, or just plain down. This level of depression is usually a very short period of time and tends to go away if you find a hobby or a friend to cheer you up. Within a week or two, you’ve moved on. There may be a small sadness, but you aren’t necessarily feeling depressed about it anymore. This type of depression is what the average user thinks of when someone says they are depressed, and thus it’s easy to assume that they can just brush it aside since it will simply get better with a little bit of time.

Below the surface, the feelings of the surface depression are warped and distorted. So now instead of a feeling of sadness, it’s a feeling of constant foreboding. Instead of being miserable, you feel like the world is going to end. Instead of feeling down, you feel like you’re in a deep hole and someone just covered the one light source. People in this stage tend to view the entire world in a negative light.

Just below the surface, it’s easy to act like nothing is wrong while internally there is a storm brewing. And one that left unchecked will eventually grow until “breaking point” where things that normally make them happy end up looking and sounding terrible; things that normally would be a funny joke are taken like an insult or source of anxiety and feeling of helplessness; things that normally would be a soft reprimand is now a full blown feeling of failure or inability to perform. All of these things only fuel the downward spiral.

However, the closer someone gets to the bottom of the spiral, the harder it is to function normally - to act like things are OK when they are not. It takes twice as long to do anything. It takes effort to even eat. Trying to get up out of depression is usually met with frustration (especially those who need medication or someone to help root out the real cause of the depression), because they can’t do it themselves creating a viscous cycle.

People with this severe of depression have what I’ve called a ghost in their eyes. They see and feel things that we on the outside can’t see. They look, to the average person, normal. But on a closer inspection that isn’t really the case. You’ll notice they aren’t eating, they aren’t getting enough sleep. You’ll notice they have a rasp in their voice and a hard time looking at people in the eye when talking to someone.

Once depression reaches this point, the previous expectations and experiences with how a person acted are no longer relevant. Their reaction to the things we say or do will be exactly the opposite of what we expect.