Being depressed and being sad are two entirely different states of mind. Many people think they are just devastated with sadness when in reality they are depressed. On the other hand, many people who are actually just sad are scared that they might be depressed. The confusion between the two may lead you to neglect a serious condition – depression or overreact to a normative emotional state – being sad.
Let us say it again for emphasis, being depressed is not the same as being sad. Depression may have implications on your mental and physical health as well as on your longevity.
Difference Between Sadness and Depression
Sadness is a normal human emotion. You tend to be sad about ‘something’ that is not what you expected. It can be triggered by a hurtful, challenging, difficult or disappointing event or situation. But when your hurt subsides or when the situation changes, your sadness will remit. Sadness is an emotion that comes and goes. You feel it while the situation lasts and get over it when the phase passes.
Depression is a mental illness. It is an abnormal emotional state. It affects your emotions, perceptions, thinking and even behavior. It has a chronic impact on your overall health. When you are depressed, you feel sad about ‘everything’.
Unlike sadness, depression needs no triggers. It does not come with a loss, a hurtful or disappointing event or a change in circumstances. It could occur in the absence of any such factors. The life of a depressed person may appear perfectly normal, but emotionally, they are a mess.
Why Is Depression So Bad?
Depression is a mental state that can overshadow everything in your life. Nothing seems enjoyable or fun. Everything appears to be less attractive, less important and less worthwhile. You do not feel motivated. You lack energy. Your ability to experience love, excitement, joy, pleasure, anticipation, satisfaction and connection is finished.
On top of all that, your threshold for everything tends to be lower. You get angrier and impatient quicker. You get frustrated easily and break down on the pettiest of things. You lose yourself, your personality and are no more ‘you’. Depression drains you of all your spark and liveliness.
We Aren’t Doing It Right
Because of our lack of understanding of the difference between sadness and depression, we end up saying the wrong things to depressed people. We tell them “it’s all in your head”, “come on, snap out of it”, “enough of being dead, live it up”.
These statements make a depressed person feel worse. The depressed person does not get feel any better, and when that happens, we lose our patience. We start running out of compassion for them because we feel that they are not trying hard enough to snap out of it.
As long as we don’t understand that being depressed is not the same as being sad, we would not know how to help someone who is depressed or even figure out if we are sad or depressed.
Symptoms of Depression
There are certain signs and symptoms of depression. However, from the listed 9 symptoms, if you are feeling any 5 of these continuously for two weeks, you are most likely depressed. It is important to consider the severity of symptoms as well. Consult a mental health professional for the most reliable and authentic diagnosis.
- Irritable or depressed mood most of the time
- Significant change in appetite pattern and loss of weight
- A decrease in interest in activities that you enjoyed doing earlier
- Sleeping too much or dealing with insomnia
- Feeling restless or too slowed down
- Having low energy most of the time or feeling sluggish
- Feeling excessive guilt or feeling worthless
- Having a problem focusing or taking decisions
- Having suicidal thoughts
What Causes Depression
Nobody can tell what causes depression exactly. About 30% of the cases of depression are due to genetics. Depression runs in the family. If any member of the family has suffered from depression at some point in their life, the gene may be transferred to their children.
If you have suffered from depression before but managed to deal with it and come out of it, any stressful situation could result in a relapse. So be careful.
Any situation that is too devastating for you emotionally may also trigger the onset of depression. If you are facing any financial crisis, any social stress, childbirth, loneliness or are mourning a loss of someone, you are in a vulnerable state. You are prone to get depressed if you don’t manage to pull yourself up timely.
Dealing with Depression
Depression can be dealt with in the following ways:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Talk therapy
- Family therapy
Dealing with depression mostly revolves around talking about how you feel and spending time with people you think will understand. Dealing with depression is not easy and it takes up a lot of courage, will, and stamina to be able to fight it.