Sadness is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s a perfectly normal and healthy response to loss, pain, disappointments, and difficult life events.
Many people use the terms “sadness” and “depression” interchangeably, but these are two different emotional states with very important distinctions.
Depression Is More Than Just Sadness
Depression is more than just feeling down or sad. It’s a serious mental health disorder that affects how you feel, think, and act.
While sadness is generally a primary component of depression, it can also manifest in other ways, such as:
● Anhedonia: lost ability to enjoy pleasurable activities
● Sleep issues: inability to sleep, oversleeping, or any change in your sleep patterns
● Fatigue: lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
● Weight changes: weight loss from losing your appetite or possibly weight gain from unhealthy bingeing
● Social Withdrawal: staying away from people, isolating yourself, and avoiding social interactions and activities
● Physical pains: mood disorders can manifest as muscle cramps, stomach aches, headaches, and chronic pains that don’t get better with pain relief medications
● Neglected self-care: not brushing your teeth or showering, not taking care of your physical appearance, or not wanting to talk to people
● Anger: intense outbursts of anger, rage, or irritability, often for insignificant reasons
● Difficulty thinking: struggling to concentrate, remember, or make decisions, even when it comes to simple everyday tasks
● Suicidal ideation: thinking about death or having suicidal thoughts
Depression Is Constant and Persistent
When you feel sad in response to a life event, it will typically pass in a few days when the stressor is gone. Also, situations like grief are often emotions that get intermixed and felt alongside sadness.
In contrast, depression is a pervasive feeling of intense sadness that doesn’t arise or go away based on situational conditions. It stays for an extended period of time without relief and consistently impacts nearly every part of your daily life.
When To See A Doctor
Depression is not something you can just ignore or “get over.” Left untreated, it can have serious and long-term negative consequences on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Seek out professional help if:
● Your everyday life, day-to-day activities, and socializing are being impacted by it.
● You’re struggling to find joy in things that you used to enjoy.
● Your emotional distress has been ongoing for weeks or longer.
● You’re feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and unable to cope with your daily life.
If you need urgent help or have thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to a helpline or emergency services immediately.
Treatment Options Are Available
Doctors are not just for physical illnesses and injuries. Don’t hesitate to talk to your primary doctor about any mental health issues you are experiencing. Even if it is not their field of expertise, they can guide and refer you to a specialist who can help.
There are many different types of therapy and medications available to help you manage and cope with depression. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness or even failure. It means that you recognize your condition and are taking action toward getting the treatment you need.
By recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression and understanding its distinction from sadness, you can begin to take the steps necessary towards getting the help you need and ultimately rediscover the many joys of life.