This Bath Metaphor Is Helping People Understand Depression

Talking about depression is tricky.

But the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that anxiety disorders affect 18% of adult Americans. So it’s important that we talk about it, and one writer has explained the disorder in a way that seems to be resonating with people.

Writing for The Mighty, John Anson described depression like the cold feeling you get after taking a bath.

He offered readers an experiment.

“Make the bathroom cold,” he wrote. “Turn on the fan. Leave only a single dim light to diffuse, as if barely there — maybe a flickering candle.”

Once you’re inside, he wrote, nothing exists outside the bathroom.

Next, draw a warm bath and get in, he wrote.

“Close your eyes,” he wrote. “Wrap your arms around yourself to make the warm embrace literal. This is the world everyone else knows.”


Then, pull the plug. After the tub drains, he wrote, sit there for a while cold, wet and naked.

“Keep still,” he wrote. “Let yourself shiver. Don’t attempt to warm yourself. This is what depression feels like. It feels like everything good has all drained out, leaving you cold and naked and alone.”

The post has been shared thousands of times on Facebook, with people writing that Anson’s metaphor is one of the most accurate descriptions of depression they’ve read.

“This is exactly how it feels,” one woman wrote.

“If you love someone with depression, this could help you understand what they go through on a regular basis,” another woman posted.

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Other people used Anson’s story to share what depression feels like to them, pointing out that everyone experiences it differently.

The Mighty publishes stories of people facing serious health conditions in the hopes of creating a community of support.

“It’s so easy to feel like we are facing these challenges alone. The truth is, we are all facing disability, disease and mental illness together,” according to the website. “But when we look online for help, all we often find is medical information. We want a community, too. That’s what The Mighty is building.”

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