The Stages of Dealing With Depression: From Awareness to Recovery

  • Time to read: 10 min.

Depression is a mental illness that affects people in different ways. For some, depression means feeling sad or down most of the time. For others, depression can be characterized by feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

Still others may feel irritable and restless, have problems sleeping and eating (eating disorders), and lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. No matter which of these depression symptoms you are experiencing, it is important to understand the different stages involved in dealing with depression.

Depression is a Mental Illness

There are some people who believe that depression isn’t actually a mental illness but is instead an emotional state. They suggest that depression is just an emotion, like anger or jealousy, and that it arises based on external factors such as our environment, financial strain or problems in relationships.

These people might view depression as something that can be pushed through with effort and willpower, and don’t accept the idea that it needs medication or professional help to overcome. They think of depression as the product of life’s stresses and hardships and may think that blaming everything on a “mental illness” is taking the easy way out.

It’s understandable why people have this viewpoint – after all, if we explore more deeply into our psychological make-up then we might discover things about ourselves which we would rather not confront!

However, most professionals agree that mental illness – depression included – is a real and complex problem which should not be dismissed as “just a feeling”, and that it needs specialized help and care to be properly managed. The stigma that depression is a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of needs to be addressed, as depression can affect anyone and is not a reflection of “character”.

5 Stages of Depression

While depression can affect people in different ways, there are generally 5 stages of depression that most people go through when dealing with depression.


The denial stage of depression is when a person is not ready to admit or accept that they are depressed. Instead of acknowledging their feelings, an individual will attempt to rationalize and ignore the symptoms.

This could manifest itself in different ways, such as refusing to talk about it, minimizing their sadness, convincing themselves that what they are feeling is temporary, or even convincing themselves that nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, this means the individual does not receive help or support for their condition which can further exacerbate it.

Denial can sometimes be a defense mechanism of sorts to protect someone from having to confront negative feelings and seek help. It is important for individuals with depression to recognize when they are in denial and make the proactive choice of seeking assistance and accepting reality because the sooner they do so, the quicker they can work towards recovery.


The anger stage of depression may come as a surprise to some, since we often imagine depression as being primarily characterized by sadness and low mood. In reality, though, one of the common symptoms of depression is feeling continuously angered or irritated.

This type of anger isn’t linked to any particular event or thing that triggers it – instead, it’s a generalized and chronic sensation of frustration that can build up over time, making life particularly difficult for those experiencing it. It can also have an effect on communication with others, leading to outbursts of anger or irritation that would normally be unusual.

If you feel like you’re in this stage of depression (or someone around you is), remember that reaching out for help is always an option and can make a huge difference in restoring your mental balance.


The bargaining stage of depression can be an emotionally tough experience. This is the stage where you start to contemplate what could have been different in your life if you had done something differently.

You’ll find yourself comparing your current situation with other people’s, and bargaining with yourself or a higher power to trade or fix something. Unfortunately, this stage can be a waste of time because things are the way they are – no matter how much you wish it were otherwise.

It’s important that during this stage, you become aware of any irrational thought patterns or beliefs so that you can start working on coming to terms with them. Focusing on these thoughts will help prevent depression and spiraling into more despair and having a depressed mood.


The depressive stage of depression can be a difficult and overwhelming experience for many people. It’s characterized by feelings of sadness, lethargy, exhaustion, irritability, and restlessness, as well as a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.

Other severe symptoms may include difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much or too little, significant changes in appetite, social withdrawal, and other disruptive behaviors like self-harm or substance use.

Unfortunately even with treatment for depressive stage symptoms it can often take weeks or months before those affected start to feel better – but with proper care and the right support system it is possible to find relief.


Acceptance is the last stage of grieving, and it’s an important step in the recovery process for someone who is struggling with depression. This stage doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly feeling happy and content; it means that you’ve accepted your medical condition and started to take steps towards managing it and healing yourself.

Additionally, acceptance frees up mental energy to focus on finding ways to deal with your depression instead of resisting it. It’s a good sign that someone battling depression has reached this point, because it can sometimes be an indication that they are close to recovering from their mental illness.

Moving forward, self-care and cognitive behavioral strategies may help individuals in accepting their condition and helping them move forward in life despite their depression.

What is Severe Depression?

Severe depression can be an incredibly debilitating condition that affects both your mental and physical health. It often manifests itself in things like feeling unmotivated, having difficulty concentrating and sleeping, feeling worthless or hopeless, and even withdrawing completely from life outside of work or daily tasks.

Unfortunately, over time these other symptoms can worsen to the point of interfering with our everyday lives and making even normal activities difficult. Severe depression is also very different from sadness or grief, though they can have a significant degree of overlap.

The main difference is that depression lasts much longer than those temporary states and has a more serious effect on our ability to cope with the world around us. Recognizing the signs of severe depression early might help stave off some of its impact over time – so make sure to pay attention if you’re noticing yourself moody for days on end without any sign of respite.

Overcoming Major Depressive Disorder

If you’ve been diagnosed with what is called major depressive disorder (MDD), know you are not alone. MDD can be tough to deal with but there are positive steps that can be taken for managing it. Experts recommend five key techniques for managing MDD:

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes is one of the best things someone dealing with major depressive disorder can do to take control and own their mental health and mental health conditions. Even small changes can have a immediate and lasting difference in how we feel.

It’s important to disconnect from tech, spend more time outside in nature, incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into our day, remain physically active, schedule time for self-care, and make sure to stay socially connected.

Aim to develop healthy habits that will benefit your emotional wellbeing; prioritizing sleep, eating healthy foods regularly, drinking plenty of water, formulating stress management techniques – this are all strategies that can help combat depression.

Even though change might be daunting at first and living with depression is incredibly difficult – it doesn’t have to consume you. Taking steps towards personal growth can make a world of difference; establishing healthy routines can give us clarity and focus each day.


Major depressive disorder is a severe mental illness affecting millions of people around the world, but there are thankfully effective methods of treatment available to treat this difficult condition. Among these treatments is therapy, which has been proven time and time again to be an effective tool in battling depression.

Mental health professionals and health care providers offer first-hand, personalized advice and support to help sufferers break free from the oppressive cycle of negative thinking and emotional and physical problems associated with major depressive disorder.

With their guiding presence and care, patients can build skills that will empower them to take back control over their lives and find fulfillment on their individual paths.

Here are some types of therapies you might want to consider to combat your depressive symptoms:

In addition to providing practical coping strategies for daily challenges, therapy also provides a safe space for open expression and encourages honest connection between patient and therapist. It’s an essential part of any successful and effective treatment plan for depression – it’s a way of healing from the inside out.


Practicing gratitude can be an incredibly effective tool in helping to combat major depressive disorder. Adopting a mindset of appreciation and thankfulness can have a positive impact on your mental health and even promote physical wellbeing.

Striving to practice gratitude on a regular basis helps to foster a more content state of mind, which is one beneficial step towards leading a healthier, happier life. Focusing on the good that life has to offer, rather than dwelling upon the bad, encourages resilience and reduces stress while also promoting feelings of hope and optimism.

A grateful attitude ultimately serves as an important factor in depression recovery, proving that its power should never be underestimated!

Relaxation Skills

Relaxation skills such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery can help people with major depressive disorder (MDD) , clinical depression, to manage their symptoms. When practiced regularly, they can lower levels of stress, releasing tension in the body and allowing you to gain more control over your thoughts and emotions.

As we know, depression is often linked to chaotic thoughts and feelings; by learning how to relax we can create feelings of relaxation and peace that can help us to accept ourselves for who we are. Moreover, using relaxation strategies can provide an alternative focus for our attention which can break the cycle of negative thinking that is so often associated with MDD.

Additionally, regular practice of relaxation skills leads to changes in attitude and awareness that have a lasting benefit for managing depressive episodes. So if you are struggling with MDD, using these methods as part of your recovery plan may prove beneficial in helping you better manage your condition.


Medication can be an effective method to combat major depressive disorder, providing much needed relief to people suffering from this mental health condition. While medication does not cure the underlying cause of depression, it can help regulate emotions, and even out mood swings.

It’s important for those with depression to remember that the effects of specific antidepressant medications and therapies may be different for everyone; what works for one person might not work for another. The best course of action is to talk with a doctor or mental health professional to explore options and personalize a treatment plan that will work effectively.

Together, a physician and patient can identify the best drugs, dosage levels, and additional therapies that fit their needs.

Other Types of Mental Disorders

Depression can be a difficult condition to manage, but there are many other mental disorders that can present similar symptoms. To ensure depression is properly diagnosed and treated, it is important to recognize the other disorders that may be causing depression-like symptoms.

Anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, perinatal depression, panic disorder, or schizophrenia are some other mental illnesses or mood disorders that may have overlapping symptoms with depression. It is important to understand the differences between depression and other mental disorders in order to receive the right type of treatment.

Consulting a doctor or mental health professional can be a helpful tool in diagnosing depression and other mental health issues or even a medical condition such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


Depression can be a difficult condition to manage, but there are many ways to work towards recovery. It is important to recognize depression for what it is—a serious mental illness that requires proper care and treatment.

By understanding depression and its symptoms, as well as exploring different treatment options such as medication, therapy, and relaxation skills, individuals can get the help they need to lead a healthier and happier life.

With the right care, depression can be managed and those living with depression can start to feel like themselves again. Working towards recovery is a journey and it is important to remember that depression should not be underestimated. With the right guidance, depression can be managed with perseverance and hope.

FAQ – Depression is a Mental Illness

What are some risk factors for this medical illness?

Some risk factors for depression include a family history of depression, certain medical conditions, or traumatic or stressful events such as physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse disorder, physical illness, or suicide attempts. Additionally, people with low self-esteem or those who are prone to negative thinking may be more at risk for depression.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive worrying, restlessness, and difficulty paying attention. GAD can lead to depression, fatigue, suicide symptoms, physical symptoms, mild depression, weight gain, and sleep disturbances. People with GAD often feel overwhelmed and are unable to control the worrying. Treatment for GAD typically involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

What is the difference between depression and other mental health disorders?

Depression is a distinct mental health disorder, but there are some similar symptoms with other mental illnesses recognized by the American Psychiatric Association such as anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder. It is important to consult a doctor or mental health professional so they can properly diagnose depression and work on ways to reduce symptoms. Different types of depression require different treatments, so it is important to have a full understanding of depression affects and other mental health disorders in order to receive the right type of effective treatments.