I'm Depressed -- Don't Touch Me

Jeanne Sager

Flickr photo by Nick J Webb
I used to love being touched. I was that high school girl who flung herself on people for a giant group hug, the demonstrative girl friend who would reach across the center console just to grab a hand.

Then the depression settled into my bones. Withdrawing into my dark world, I lost the pleasure of responding to human touch.


When you don't feel comfortable in your skin, it's difficult to imagine deriving pleasure from it.

And then came motherhood. And someone . . . always . . . touching me. Touching my breasts. My stomach. My thighs. As she got older she moved to yanking my hair, clenching my wrists and climbing my legs.

By night-time, I was touched out. As I once wrote in a much-criticized essay for Babble, my sex life suffered because, "I just want[ed] a few moments to remember it's my body to begin with."

But remembering who I was was painful too -- I could only love my husband from afar, and the strain on our marriage was palpable. In a paradoxical way, I found the more I was resistant to touch, the more I needed it to make me feel whole.

The sense of touch is a strange trigger for some people. As one mom struggling through a bad marriage recently told me, she craved his touch like a drug. The longer she went without just a gentle hand on the back in the kitchen or a gentle chuck under the chin, the less she felt like a person.

A new study has even found massage therapy can be beneficial in treating depression -- in part because trust built between therapist and client allows for the release of oxytocin in the body.

Do you ever wish people wouldn't touch you?

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