What is existential nihilism depression?

This post answers: What is existential nihilism depression? How is existential nihilism depression different from general depression? Where does existential nihilism depression come from? Is there a way out of existential nihilism depression? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression?  What are the causes of depression? What are the treatment options for depression?

What is existential nihilism depression?

Existential nihilism depression stems from the perception of life as a meaningless endeavor. People who think in a nihilistic way are almost always extremely pessimistic about themselves, the world, and life in general. They don’t see any point in living. To them, life is nothing more than sheer suffering.

They believe that the universe is just too big, and we are just too small; death is inevitable; therefore, nothing matters. They believe that whatever good or bad we do does not matter because nothing is permanent. 

They see pitch dark at the end of the tunnel of life. People with existential nihilism depression have the most severe type of depression because they do not try to recover because they see it as meaningless.

How is existential nihilism depression different from general depression?

Existential nihilism depression is profoundly severe and different from the general depression that we often talk about in mental health. Depression is rooted in misery and suffering; however, it is often just a phase of life. 

Depression may momentarily twist one’s beliefs in a negative way, but once that’s not how people with depression generally look at life. It’s their depression making them see everything as black and white.

People with existential nihilism depression are different. They do not only see life as pointless and meaningless; they actually believe that life is meaningless and pointless. 

They are utterly convinced that that’s the case. So, these people do not see any point in trying to get better. They value nothing, neither positive nor negative emotions.

Even when they feel happy, they see it as illusory. They see suffering in the same way. They think that their suffering is pointless, and so they just bear it without trying to make their lives better. If we are to put it in one sentence, they have given up on life.

It is important to understand that people with existential nihilism depression are not bitter towards other people. They don’t see other people as evil or bad. They see other people as unwise and unaware of the meaninglessness of life.

People with existential nihilism depression could often be seen in a tense mood. There is always sort of a passive rage-like feeling visible on their faces. 

They look like they are very frustrated and aggressive. However, they are mostly non-violent. What they do is that they turn their aggression and rage inwards, which takes the form of existential depression.


Where does existential nihilism depression come from?

We all think about the nature of reality. We ask questions regarding the purpose of life, the purpose of our existence, the meaning of life, and the reason for misery and suffering. 

We try to understand the origin of life, the nature of truth, the obliviousness of life, the nature and purpose of death, and hundreds and thousands of other existential questions.

To ask such questions seems like a normal part of human development. However, the way we answer and seek to answer such questions is what determines the kind of life we have. 

Also, the way we are brought up by and in our environment determines the kind of answers that are readily available to us. And then comes genetics, which makes us vulnerable to thinking in a certain way.

Existential nihilism depression originates from and feeds on pathological and unrealistic answers to the questions mentioned above. 

People with existential nihilism depression suffer traumatic and painful experiences at one point or another in their life. These experiences change the way they look at life almost in a permanent way.

They start questioning the meaning of life, and when they look at their lives and the lives of people similar to them, they come to the conclusion that life is meaningless. 

On top of that, they start seeking existential literature that supports their distorted perception of life and reality, which makes it utterly impossible for them to look at life in a healthy way. They become hopeless, pessimistic, suicidal, and they live a purposeless life.

Is there a way out of existential nihilism depression?

Although it is extremely hard to convince a nihilist that life is meaningful, it is not impossible. The way out of existential nihilism depression requires two major things: openness to seeing things and thinking differently and acknowledging personal responsibility.

 What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common serious mental health conditions that negatively impact how an individual feels and thinks.

Depression is associated with feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and drastic changes in the energy level and the daily routines of an individual.

Depression in itself can lead to other physical and emotional problems which can be detrimental to a person’s functioning.

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual from mild to severe depending on various factors.

Studies indicate that depression affects about 15% of adults every year and one in every six people experience depression at some time in their life.

Although depression can occur at any age it is more common among teenagers and early adults. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The characteristic symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities enjoyed in the past
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns with very little sleep or long hours of sleep
  • Decrease in the level of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • In severe cases thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of depression must last up to two weeks and cause significant impairment in an individual’s daily functioning to meet the diagnosis of depression.

 What are the causes of depression?

Depression can be caused due to several factors such as:


Age might be an important factor in understanding the severity of depression in people. Reports indicate that elderly people are at higher risk of depression than the.


Another very common reason for individuals to experience depression is a conflict that can be internal or external. Many individuals are biologically vulnerable to high levels of conflict falling prey to depression more easily.

Major life events

Many individuals might also experience depression due to major life events such as the death or loss of something very personal.


Reports indicate that women are more likely you get depressed the reason for this is not explained in much detail but it is believed that the hormonal changes that women experience might contribute to their higher likelihood of experiencing depression.


Certain over-the-counter medications might also lead to depression in many individuals such as isotretinoin interferon-alpha and corticosteroids.

Serious illnesses

In many cases, depression occurs as a comorbid condition with other illnesses that individuals are experiencing be it physical psychological.

Substance misuse

It is found that about 30% of individuals with drug abuse and misuse are diagnosed with clinical depression.


Individuals who have a history of depression in their family are more likely to experience depression than those who do not. This indicates that depression can be genetic to some extent like many other I kept disorders.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression though widespread is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. About 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are


Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed by doctors to individuals with depression. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers. They generally do not have any stimulating effects on people who do not experience depression.

Antidepressants usually show their effects within a few weeks. However, in cases where patients do not see any improvement after several weeks, they can alter their doses based on the suggestions provided by their health care practitioners.


Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. It is used as a single mode of treatment for mild depression or for moderate to severe depression along with antidepressants.

Psychotherapy might involve the individual alone or other related individuals for instance the family of the concerned person.

Depending on the severity of depression psychotherapy might take a few weeks or much longer for significant improvement

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist actively focuses on problem-solving. This is done by helping individuals replace their negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment model that is commonly used for patients with severe and major depression who usually do not respond to other lines of treatment.

It involves brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Patients receive electroconvulsive therapy two or three times a week for a total of 6 to 12 sessions.

Self-help and coping strategies

Apart from therapy and medicine individuals can also carry out some self-help coping strategies such as carrying out regular exercises, getting sufficient sleep, indulging in pleasurable activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol to reduce their symptoms of depression


It is okay to ask existential questions, to question the nature of reality, even to question reality itself. However, it is utterly crucial to keep an open mind. Not keeping an open mind can allure you into seeking answers to existential questions that may seem reasonable to you but will push you towards and eventually throw you into the pit of nihilism.

Frequently asked questions: What is existential nihilism depression?

Is existential nihilism depression a category of depression defined by the DSM-5?

No, although it comes as a general theme in all kinds of depression. People with existential nihilism depression are more inclined towards philosophizing life.

What’s the best treatment for existential nihilism depression?

Since it involves distorted cognition, CBT works best on such clients.

How is pessimism different from nihilism?

Pessimists are hopeless, but they do not see life as completely meaningless; nihilists, on the other hand, are both hopeless and see no meaning and point in living.





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