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Fishermen Wellness: What does depression feel like?

When your body is hooked on a feeling.

Hannah Longley, LCSW, NAMI Maine staff


Depression and anxiety are the most common diagnoses reported worldwide. In the United States, one in five adults has sought treatment for depression and anxiety every year. Maine has the highest percentage of children who are receiving treatment for anxiety and the third-highest for depression in the nation. Both of these diagnoses are common, however often not fully understood. Depression and anxiety are often viewed as purely emotions and emotional responses, but they are so much more.

Depression and anxiety can have many of the same symptoms and can often occur together.


Ways in which depression and anxiety can be expressed can be sadness, nervousness, anger, irritability, or even a numbing and disconnection from emotions. The entire brain and body are impacted by depression and anxiety. This can include difficulties with memory or concentration, trouble with expressing and processing communication, and difficulties with making decisions. People may experience overwhelming emotions and struggle to control them or become more impulsive in their actions. Bodies may begin to feel tired and lethargic, unexplained aches and pains in muscles and joints, feeling constantly on edge, and although exhausted, unable to settle down. Appetites may be lost or drastically increase with seeking “comfort foods” in addition to stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Important to note that children often express their physical symptoms far more than their emotional ones.


The World Health Organization has reported that depression is the largest cause of economic loss worldwide, impacting people’s ability to engage in work, day to day tasks, and disrupting relationships. An individual with an anxiety or mood disorder is three times more likely to develop a substance use disorder if left untreated.


There are simple steps that can be taken to promote positive chemical responses in the body. The majority of serotonin, a natural chemical the body produces to combat depression, is made in the gut with the help of leafy green food. Chronic sleep deprivation (less than 5-6 hours) decrease’s the body’s ability to produce serotonin, as well as the necessary receptors in the brain to utilize dopamine, another chemical the body naturally produces to combat depression. Exercise and sunshine can help to boost these chemicals to increase mood, as well as drinking plenty of water. Surrounding yourself with positive people, as Sigmund Freud once said: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression make sure you are not surrounded by jerks (he used a different word that would be censored…)”.


If symptoms continue and impact the ability to engage in work, tasks necessary in day to day life such as housework, and impact important relationships, seek help. The average time an individual waits to seek treatment is 10 years. That is a long time to suffer in silence.




NAMI Maine is here for support.

Please call 1-800-464-5767 and press 1 for the helpline.

If there is a crisis or thoughts of suicide, please call the statewide crisis number at 1-888-568-1112.







A note from MCFA staff: Fishermen Wellness is a new on-going series by NAMI Clinical Staff. Each week a new topic will be featured pertaining to mental health and wellness for fishermen. We hope that this information is helpful to fishermen during COVID-19 and also under regular circumstances. Thank you to the clinical staff at NAMI for their support and insight during this time. Together, we persevere.

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An industry-based nonprofit that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's fishing communities for future generations. 

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