I’ve been posting a lot lately about having depressive highs and depressive lows, especially over the past week. A few people have reached out to me and asked what I mean by a depressive high and a depressive low.

Let’s start with my diagnosis: major depressive disorder.

What is major depressive disorder?

A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.
With major depressive disorder, comes depressive highs and depressive lows.
Now, if you were to google this, the first result you’re going to get is bipolar or bipolar depression. I don’t have bipolar. The symptoms of MDD and bipolar are very similar, however, what separates the two is mania. I don’t get manic. That’s why I’m not diagnosed with bipolar.

With major depressive disorder, there’s a cycle of emotions that you go through, I just happen to call them my depressive highs and depressive lows.

With major depression, you experience mood changes pretty frequently. Not as frequent as bipolar. Bipolar your moods can change rapidly. MDD, you can stay in a high or low cycle for days, even weeks. With MDD, for example, you may be in a depressive high, where you’re very happy and content, something makes you sad and may keep you sad for a little bit of time, but you never fully get out of that depressive high. Make sense?? Same goes for a depressive low. You’re very down and have a few good things happen that can make you happy and smile briefly, but you never fully leave the low.

Let me give you some examples of a depressive high and a depressive low:

What you may experience during a depressive high:

  • Feeling like you’re on top of the world
  • Extreme happiness
  • Feeling like everything is going right in your life
  • Positive outlook on things
  • Future oriented
  • Feel like you’re having a “break through”
  • Wanting to do things
  • Having more energy
  • Minimal anxiety
  • Better sleep

What you may experience during a depressive low:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Crying spells
  • Poor sleep
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self destructive behaviors
  • Lack of energy
  • Negative about everything
  • Hopelessness
  • Wanting to isolate
  • Anxiety and panic attack’s
  • I’ve actually have even experienced pain in my body

It’s also important to be aware when you’re in both a depressive high or a depressive low. I know for me, I’ve been in depressive highs where I’ve done so much that I wore myself out so much I couldn’t move for the rest of the day. Also, I’ve been in depressive lows where I’ve put my self in extremely dangerous situations where I didn’t care what happened to me.

Lately, I’ve noticed my moods constantly changing. I would be extremely happy one day, the the next sad for a week. Then I would get happy for a few days, then swing in to immense sadness. For me, I seem to experience more depressive lows than highs. Very rarely did I have any stable days.

I recently started Wellbutrin to help. I knew I needed to get myself back on a medication because I really felt myself starting to spiral and was experiencing suicidal thoughts, a lot. I had to sit myself down and explain to myself why I needed to keep going and fighting. It worked. Getting myself back on the medication, even though it’s only been about 5 days, I’m starting to feel some relief. I’m going to get back in to counseling consistently instead of just going when I “feel like it”. I’ve had a rough past and even a rough year. I started more cardio workouts this week too and working on getting my diet back in check. I need to get myself in a good spot so I can be the best person I can be and get my confidence back. To finally be the person that I want to be.

How can you help someone experiencing depressive highs and depressive lows?

  • Be supportive
  • Be honest
  • Listen to what they have to say
  • Avoid the “I” language, “I feel you should”, “I think this would be best for you”. It’s about the person, not you and what you feel is best
  • Ask questions about how they feel about addressing the current issue, what are they looking to do
  • Ask if they’re okay
  • Make sure they are linked with crisis numbers (USA: text 741741 or 1-800-273-8255 24/7 lines) Other country suicide hotlines
    Offer to help them get linked with any resources they need
    Remember, to take care of yourself as well. You can’t be there 24/7 for someone. Don’t spread yourself thin and burn out, the person will know and will feel worse

How can you help yourself during a depressive high or a depressive low?

  • Recognizing and verbalizing the cycle you’re in
  • Practice grounding techniques
    Find things that help you relax (yoga, exercise, reading, writing, etc)
    Eat a healthy diet
    Drink a lot of water
    Talk with someone you trust
    Don’t overdo and run yourself in to the ground
    Reach out to crisis if needed
    Reminding yourself you are worthy
    Pointing out at least 3 positive things about your day
    Reminding yourself you’re only human and can only do so much
    Know your triggers
    Know what helps you cope
    Know your limits

Remember, together, we can end the stigma of depression and all other mental health disorders. Support those struggling and don’t be so quick to judge. If you’re struggling, remember that you’re not alone and please reach out.


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