MH@H Depression

Depression Without the Depressed Part?

Depressed without the depressed part - graphic of blue person standing under raincloud

Chances are the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about depression is depressed mood, right? But while depressed mood is often a major part of depressive illnesses, sometimes it plays a minor role and other times it’s not present at all.

Major depressive episode symptoms

The symptoms of depression are (must have one of the first two):

  • Depressed mood
  • Significant loss of interest/pleasure in almost all activities (anhedonia)
  • Significant change in appetite and/or unintentional weight loss/gain.
  • Disruption in sleep, which can be either insomnia or sleeping excessively
  • Objectively observable changes in the speed of movements, either slowing (psychomotor retardation) or agitation
  • Decreased energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt that are out of proportion to the situation
  • Problems with concentration and decision-making
  • Suicidal ideation

For me, the most consistent symptoms over the last three years are the anhedonia and the cognitive effects.


My guinea pigs are pretty much the only thing that can crack through the anhedonia, although not always. Blogging is cognitively stimulating and meaningful, but emotionally it’s quite neutral. I’ve always been pretty cerebral, so I’m fine with cognitively stimulating.

The things that I used to enjoy doing are not the least bit appealing. Travelling used to be my passion and I was always excited about planning my next trip, but that fire has died. I went on a trip to Italy last fall hoping that it would rekindle the fire, but nope. All the stuff that I would’ve been gaga over in the past were just meh.

Cognitive symptoms

I’m very organized and that allows me to compensate to some extent for the cognitive slowing, but it’s an ever-present challenge.& Decision-making is problematic.  I have a very hard time processing multiple pieces of new information at once, which is something that I used to be quite good at. Spontaneous thought is difficult, whether that’s answering an unexpected question someone asks of me or formulating a thought-out response to someone’s blog posts.

I also have problems with sensory overwhelm, mostly with visual stimuli. I notice that a lot when I’m at the grocery store. Even when the store is quiet, visually it’s just a lot for my brain to process.

Effects on movement

I’ve had psychomotor retardation for the last several months, and it worsens when my mood drops. It’s like walking through molasses. It’s been a lot more consistently present this year than it has been in the past.

Depression can affect movement in other ways as well, but for me it’s all about the psychomotor.

Overall picture

It doesn’t take much in terms of external triggers to make my mood drop, but when things are chugging along at status quo my mood isn’t all that much of an issue. It never ventures at all into good mood territory, but it’s not smacking me in the face with negativity, either. It’s more a feeling of being detached and emotionally turned off.

So yeah, I’m depressed without an especially depressed mood a fair bit of the time. Illness can present itself in many ways. Those of us with mental illness know that, but I suspect a lot of non-mentally-ill people don’t realize just how much variability there can be within a given diagnosis.

Are there ways that your illness doesn’t fit with stereotyped expectations?

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle, Second Edition, by Ashley L. Peterson

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle.

It’s published by MH@H Books and available on Amazon and Google Play.

36 thoughts on “Depression Without the Depressed Part?”

  1. Off course, I have all surprising symptoms on my blog 🙂 The grocery store: 100% I avoid it as much as I can. But the struggle now for me is in all the small things – insignificant they seem to me – like brushing my teeth, doing laundry and just holding my head together. I zone out, time goes by and than I’m hyper in my mind, so weird!

  2. My depression sounds similar to yours, although some of the things can also be due to autism, which explains why they persist when the mood part of depression shifts (although that also explains why I’ve had trouble convincing psychiatrists that I’m on the spectrum and they try to push me into the depression box). I think I’ve had anhedonia for a lot longer than any other symptom, and my sleep disruption is impossible to shift even at times when I otherwise feel OK.

      1. Yes. The problem is that I’ve been depressed for most of my adult life, so it’s hard to find evidence of autism without depression, particularly as my parents didn’t notice anything particularly unusual, nor were there any troubles at school aside from lack of friends and being bullied. There are a few things which I need to emphasise for the autism diagnosis.

  3. Are there ways that your illness doesn’t fit with stereotyped expectations? Sure. I’m an enigma I suppose. Because while the mental health professionals agree that my ‘primary’ diagnosis is chronic depression or dysthemia; I have a lot of elements that don’t really fit that. I’m always being presented with someone’s new diagnosis for what I got. Bipolar II. Mild (?) BPD. Social Anxiety. I mean it gets tiring not knowing precisely what I have, and more importantly how to treat what I have. It’s naive, but dang I’d like to have someone definitively tell me “this is YOU” and this is why you’ve suffered. It’s not going to happen is my own opinion.

  4. I’m so sad that you have to deal with this!! 🙁 I wish the anhedonia would go away forever!! Bad, bad, bad anhedonia!!

    Yeah, for me, I don’t think I seem like a typical schizophrenic, but that’s because I take my meds with religious fervor. If I were to go off them, I’d become paranoid as heck and catatonic and delusional and possibly hallucinatory. On my meds, I think I just seem weird.

  5. This is sort of like me except the slow moving part. My emotions aren’t present most of the time but I eventually break down after a while and it all comes out.

  6. I get really numb and indecisive at times to the point where I literally have to tell myself what to do, out loud. “Go to the bathroom, then get dressed.” Otherwise I might sit on the sofa all day clicking my phone.

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