Differentiating Depression from Sadness

The terms depression and sadness are often used synonymously, but they are far removed from each other. While these conditions have some similarities, sadness is normal, but depression is a mental disorder. Clinical depression may be diagnosed if someone experiences constant, debilitating sadness for more than two weeks. Sadness may be present every day for two or more weeks, but it comes and goes and typically results from a tragic event. The major identifying factor between the two problems is that depression requires medical attention to overcome.

Sadness is a normal emotion just like happiness, anger or love. However, the characteristics of clinical depression are much more intrusive, and they can leave people unable to function normally at work, school or in social settings. The different characteristics of depression include the following problems:

  • Feeling worthless or purposeless
  • Thinking nothing will ever get better
  • Low energy levels
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sleep problems, like insomnia
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Planning and attempting suicide

You must be able to recognize the difference between clinical depression and sadness, because depression often forms unnoticed and can quickly turn into a life-threatening disorder. In other words, you must be able to identify this problem or else it could claim your life. The following list can serve as a guide to recognizing depressive symptoms and determining if professional treatment is necessary:

  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Becoming isolated from friends or finding new ones who engage in risky behavior, such as drug use
  • Becoming less productive at work or school and being excessively absent
  • Chronic feelings of self-loathing or worthlessness
  • A stark contrast in mood from normal emotions to excessive irritability, anger or sadness
  • Abnormal sleeping habits, such as sleeping too much or not enough
  • Noticeable changes in weight without conscious effort
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on one task for too long
  • Substance abuse
  • Inflicting self-harm as a way of testing the waters of suicide
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Developing plans to commit suicide

If any of these symptoms of depression occur, it is essential to receive immediate treatment. You should seek help, especially if you develop a plan to commit suicide, as death could be imminent.

Find Treatment for Depression

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and wants help, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Do not let depression get the best of you; call now for immediate help.