The Difference Between Depression and Sadness

The Difference Between Depression and Sadness

By Lexi Clara

By Lexi Clara

Contributed article written for

Sadness is a part of life. Whether it's something that didn't go as planned or a failed encounter, it's okay —and even healthy— to feel bad and mourn over certain things. However, having one bad day isn't the same as the paralyzing kind of depression that keeps you from going about your day-to-day activities.

Though some people may use "sadness" and "depression" loosely, it's important to recognize the differences between the two. Knowing this can help you determine when clinical treatment or an intervention might be necessary.

Everybody feels unhappy at some point

Sadness is a natural reaction to things that make you upset, disappointed, or cause you pain (whether physical or emotional). Someone who is feeling sad might cry for a while or spend some time alone before returning to their normal lives after a couple of hours, as this feeling is usually temporary. There may be varying degrees of duration and intensity, but the bottom line is that sadness goes away.

Depression goes beyond sadness

For the millions of people in America who are affected by mental illness each year, sadness is just one of the various symptoms they have to deal with.

While sadness has more to do with your mood, depression is a mental disorder that can influence your entire life. And unlike sadness, it's harder to contain and just "get over." Sometimes, you can't even pinpoint any "logical" reason as to why it happens, because depression doesn't always need a major event to occur — it's simply the chemical imbalance in your brain.

As previously discussed on NAMI Dane County, a person with clinical depression will have symptoms like losing interest in their day-to-day activities, difficulty sleeping, and/or a loss of appetite that can last for weeks, months or even more.

If left untreated, it can even lead to other disorders like anorexia. And in the worst case scenario, people with depression may even think about or attempt suicide. They may eventually get to a point where it feels like life is pointless.

Is there a cure for depression?

Whether you’re a student struggling in school, or an adult who can’t seem to get motivated at work, depression is something that can hold you back from moving forward. This is because mental health and learning development are closely tied together, as pointed out by psychologists from Maryville University. What this means is that being in the proper state of mind is a prerequisite to being a fully functional human being.

Fortunately, clinical depression is treatable. But, recent reports by the World Health Organization reveal that less than half of patients diagnosed with the illness are willing to receive professional care. Depression often comes with a sense of hopelessness — the feeling that nothing is going to change, no matter what they do.

So, what happens now?

At the moment, suicide rates in the United States continue to soar, with numbers in 2017 that were 33% higher than in 1999. If you suspect that someone close to you is feeling depressed, never try to talk them “out of their feelings” or force them to get some help. Instead, encourage them to take the necessary steps while offering plenty of support. It's easy to become desensitized to these numbers, but we should always remember that there are faces and families behind these statistics, so don't hesitate to reach out when you can.

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