Am I Depressed or Just Sad?
Updated: Jun 9
We have all been sad at one point or another. Maybe a loved one passed. Maybe a traumatic event occurred. It’s even possible that many have been sad with seemingly no explanation. How can you tell when those feelings of sadness are something more? How can you tell when you are experiencing the emotion of sadness compared to when you are experiencing the mental health issue of depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues experienced in the United States. It is a mood disorder that impacts one’s mood, motivation, relationships, and overall quality of life. Understanding the difference between feeling sad and experiencing depression is an essential step to seeking the help you or a loved one may need.
What’s the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?
Sadness is an emotion that everybody experiences at one point or another. The emotion is often felt when one experiences an event in their life such as the loss of a loved one, relationship troubles, financial issues, divorce, or rejection. Somebody who is dealing with sadness, more often than not, will begin to feel relief after allowing themselves to feel that sadness through methods like crying or venting to a friend. With time, sadness will begin to fade. While sadness is an emotion that typically fades, it can turn into depression. Feelings of sadness that do not fade after two weeks or begins to interfere with one’s quality of life may be considered a sign of depression.
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can interfere with relationships, career, mood, or overall quality of life. Along with feelings of sadness, somebody who is dealing with depression may experience a lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, sleeping issues, or other signs and symptoms. A doctor will typically begin to consider a diagnosis of depression when the patient has been dealing with one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks.
What to Do if You are Experiencing Sadness
If your feelings of sadness do not appear to be severe enough to begin negatively impacting your overall quality of life or lasting longer than two weeks, you may be experiencing the emotion of sadness. There are a few methods one may try to help yourself feel better when you are feeling sad. You can vent to a friend, write in a journal, allow yourself to cry and feel your emotions fully, and take up a hobby that helps you channel your emotions
The Symptoms of Depression
While sadness can be a symptom of depression, somebody who is sad is not always considered to be suffering from depression. Depression can look different for everyone, but there are a few signs and symptoms one can watch out for in themselves or a loved one. The symptoms of depression include:
Feeling sad, anxious, or numb. While one may experience feelings of anxiousness or numbness when they are sad, a depressed person will experience these feelings in a way that interferes with their day to day activities and likely lasts longer than two weeks.
Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt. Depression can leave its victims feeling unworthy and hopeless in a way that begins to negatively impact their quality of living.
Irritability. Depression affects your mood, sleeping patterns, and eating patterns. Changes in these three parts of life can often lead to one feeling irritable which can impact their relationships, reputation, and many other areas of life.
Loss of motivation for living life. While everybody may experience brief periods of feeling unmotivated, especially when they are feeling sad, those who are experiencing depression experience severe bouts of a lack of motivation that negatively impacts their entire life.
Feeling lethargic and fatigued. Depression can leave its victims feeling tired and unenergetic. They may talk slower, move slower, and think slower than they normally would.
Cloudy thoughts. Depression can leave one feeling confused, unable to concentrate, and as though their mind is foggy.
Changes in eating habits. When one is experiencing depression, they may either over or undereat, which can begin to lead to health problems later on in their life.
Changes in sleeping habits. Depression can lead to struggles in falling asleep, staying asleep, or with sleeping too much.
Thoughts of death or suicide. In severe cases of depression, one may experience thoughts of suicide or death. If you are experiencing these thoughts, reach out to a mental health provider as soon as possible. If you are in immediate danger of suicide, call 911 immediately.
What to Do if You Have Depression
If you believe that you are experiencing depression, know that you do not have to suffer in silence. Depression has been shown to be a treatable mental health disorder, even in the most severe cases. If you believe that you are dealing with depression, seeking the help of a mental health professional can get you on the right track to feeling better as soon as possible. Different treatments work for different cases of depression, but some treatment options may include psychotherapy, medication, or brain stimulation therapy.
Along with the treatment you may receive from your mental health professional, there are a few lifestyle changes that can be helpful in aiding your recovery from depression and possibly preventing its reoccurrence in the future. You can set small goals for yourself, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and learn methods for coping with stress in a healthy way.
Everybody will experience the emotion of sadness at one point in their life. They may even hit a period where they begin to question whether or not they are actually experiencing depression. Sadness is an emotion that hurts, but you will typically begin to feel relief and recover from this painful emotion. When the feelings of sadness and low mood begin to negatively impact your life or last longer than two weeks, reach out to a mental health professional. You may be experiencing symptoms of depression. Depression is a serious, but treatable mood disorder. The quicker you seek treatment for depression, the faster you will be able to begin your journey to healing. Contact us today to start that journey.