It is completely normal and natural to experience the emotion of sadness. This emotion arises in response to life events or circumstances that are overwhelming, tragic, or painful. Sadness while it can feel intense at times, come and goes.
However, sometimes people feel something deeper and darker than sadness, and they may feel this way despite there being no triggering event such as the loss of a loved one.
So how can we tell the difference between sadness and depression?
Sadness versus Depression: The Real Difference?
As I just mentioned, sadness is a normal reaction to a difficult event in our life. We may feel sad because of a breakup or from losing a loved one, losing a job or being diagnosed with a chronic illness. In other words, we feel sadness about something.
Depression, on the other hand, affects not only our emotions but also how we act and perceive the world. Depression does not require a triggering event. In fact, when we’re depressed, we tend to feel upset about any- and everything.
Depression clouds our entire lives. When we’re depressed, nothing feels as enjoyable or worthwhile as it once did. In short, we simply feel less alive.
Symptoms of Depression
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must be diagnosed with at least five of the following common symptoms for a continual duration of at least two weeks:
- An irritable or depressed mood
- A decreased interest in once enjoyable activities
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Changes in our sleep patterns
- Feeling sluggish most days; having a lack of energy and motivation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Suicidal ideation
How Common is Depression?
Depression is common. Researchers estimate that nearly 7% of adults in the United States have depression every year. More than 16% of U.S. adults — around 1 in 6 people — will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.
If you or a loved one are experiencing depressed, it is very important to reach out for help from a trained mental health therapist. Depression can be really difficult to deal with, but there are strategies to break free and find joy once again.
I help women experiencing low mood, post partum depression and sadness to find ways to regain a sense of vitality and purpose in their life. Please give my office a call.