How to tell the Difference between Sadness & Depression?

2,533 Views Updated: 04 Feb 2021
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How to tell the Difference between Sadness & Depression?

At some point in their life, every single one of us gets the blues. Sadness is a natural reaction to emotionally upsetting or painful events. Also, there are varying degrees of sadness and the level of it depends on the intensity of the event causing it. However, just like other emotions that we have like happiness, excitement, and anger, sadness is also temporary and fades away with time.

On the other hand, depression is defined as a common yet serious mental illness, affecting how an individual feels, thinks and acts. Sadness is one of the byproducts of depression, along with several others like loss of interest in activities that were once fondly enjoyed by the person suffering from it.

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It has been estimated that more than 16 million people in the US aged 18 or above suffer from depression or major depressive disorder. This is about 6.7 percent of the total American population, which is an alarming statistic in itself. In addition to that, it is also the leading cause of the disability in the country among people aged between 15 and 44.3 years. Moreover, it is believed that approximately 350 million people in the world suffer from it.

The symptoms of depression include everything from a general feeling of sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed and change in appetite to trouble sleeping, constant fatigue, a problem in decision making and slowed movement and speech. In order to diagnose the problem, the symptoms must last for at least two weeks.

Fortunately, depression is a treatable problem, and with timely diagnosis, proper treatment and enough care, just about anybody can get rid of the dark clouds hovering over their heads or the dark thoughts lurking in their head. The only problem with treating depression is its diagnosis, since more times than not, it is mistaken for fits of sadness that all of us get from time to time.

Understanding how crucial it is to know if someone is depressed, we are here today to help you understand the difference between sadness and depression. The latter is a horrifying mental disorder which can result in grief, emotional or even physical harm to the person suffering from it or people around them. Here are some tips that will help you tell sadness from depression.

#1. Things Once Enjoyed With Sheer Enthusiasm

The easiest way to tell which is what between sadness and depression is by observing the behavior of the person about the things that they like or perhaps once liked. Having the blues is undeniably a terrible thing but even when you are sad, you tend to enjoy the things or activities that you are fond of. Perhaps that is what turns our mood around and blow the dark clouds away. It may at times take a little bit of persuasion, but you do finally get to the thing or activity at the end of it all.

However, one of the telltale signs of depression is the complete loss of interest in the activities that were once a great source of pleasure to us. For instance, if you or someone very close to you who loved writing or playing basketball just cannot seem to get through the fog of sadness in order to pick up a pen or enter the basketball court, then the scale is most probably tilted more towards depression than mere sadness. And if that is the case, then it is a sign for you to intervene and take care of the problem.

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#2. Relation To An Event

This is another thing that separates normal sadness from depression. However, there is a thin line of difference between the two in this respect. In most of the cases, sadness can be linked to a specific cause or event that may have resulted in the individual feeling gloomy. This could be anything like the death of a pet , homesickness, illness of a family member, or any such similar event. In that sense, sadness is also time-limited and exists for a specific period of time after the event has passed.

Such painful situations may also trigger depressive episodes, and the depressed person may react badly to it, but after they have occurred and passed on, they spark a more general and deeper feeling of pain, sadness, and misery, sprawling beyond what most would call normal boundaries. Therefore, when a person is depressed, they may lose interest, appetite, and energy for a longer period of time with maybe no cause behind it at all. The event in the case of depression is only the trigger, and there could be nothing driving the illness at all.

Are you or somebody close to you going through post-partum depression? This might help in dealing with it.

#3. Eating And Sleeping Routines

After a breakup or failing in an exam, you may get sad but that, on the whole, will not affect your diet and you will still want to have your breakfast in the morning and your snacks in the evening. The same is the case with your sleep. An event that has put you in the gloomy mood may affect your behavior a little but will not take away your peaceful sleep at night.

But that is not the case with depression. When someone is depressed, the first signs that they exude is a severe disruption in either eating patterns, sleeping patterns, or both. Depression can have really weird effects on the sleeping patterns of an individual. It can make them sleep all day, only getting out of their bed when it is an absolute emergency, or it can turn them into an insomniac who can never enjoy more than just a few hours of sleep. The interference or disruption in the eating habits is not too different either. When depressed, a person manifests thoughts like there is no point in making a healthy meal or perhaps not being able to find any sense in eating at all. Lack of sleep and proper meal then, in turn, imparts negative effects on the physical health of the person suffering from depression.

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#4. Variations In The Mood

Whenever an event throws you into the blues, you do not feel like it is the end of the world. Though you may feel the mist of melancholy surrounding you, there will be times when the fog will fade away. There will even be moments of sudden elevation in your mood when you will not feel sad at all. All it takes to break away the sadness is a little bit of distraction and it is done!

When you are suffering from a bout of mild or moderate depression, though you may have low mood throughout the day and a fair consistency, there will again be a few shining moments here and there. But it is severe depression, nothing, no matter how good or amazing it is, ever seems to change your mood. In this case, the depressive episodes are fairly consistent, appear on an everyday basis and are unrelenting.

#5. Feeling Of Self-Hatred

Sadness can fill you with guilt for a short period of time, make you feel responsible and bad for something that you did, but there isn’t any permanent feeling of guilt or worthlessness. You just might hate yourself for a short period, but that feeling usually fades away in no time.

On the other side, depression has its own plethora of thought patterns, which, if we might add, are quite peculiar at times. One of the most distinctive thought that appears when someone is depressed is that of self-punishment. Depression makes you think that you are unworthy of happiness and all that you deserve in this world is hurt and pain. Apart from that, you also start to play the blame game against yourself, putting everyone tiny little bad thing happening to you upon yourself.

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#6. Suicidal Thoughts

As we have explained above several times, sadness only lives for a short period, and the guilt or feeling of responsibility associated with it fades away over the course of time. The person who is sad may dislike themselves for a while, but those thoughts just vanish like the other things in the world start to distract them.

Depression is different as it is replete with the feeling of self-harm and when these thoughts of self-punishment or self-hurt get worse, they turn into suicidal thoughts. If you are going through a similar situation, we urge you to get in touch with a professional regarding your problem as soon as possible.

So, this becomes one of the obvious signs telling you if you or one of your loved one is depressed or merely going through a rough patch in life. Are you clear now as to what is the difference between being depressed for a while or having depression? Sadness vs. depression has been confusing people for a while now, and we hope we have been able to shed some light on the topic with this post.

Are you suffering from depression? Here are some tips for dealing with the problem.

Did you like the article? Did we have some good point? What do you think separates the horror that depression is from sadness? Tell us what you think through your comments in the dedicated box that we have for you below. We absolutely love it when you write to us.

(Image Courtesy: 1. Better Help, 2. Hyper, 3. Greatist, 4. Psych Alive,; Zaradna(Featured Image)
Depression can easily be dealt with if only we understand it on time. But that is where the biggest
problem lies. We never seem to right understand who is suffering from depression and who is merely
going through a rough patch in life. There is a thin line which separates sadness from depression but
seldom do people understand it. I really liked this post and the way you have listed all the aspects where
anybody can complete whether it is depression that they have in their hand or is it just sadness. I would
like to say that if you have even a little bit of suspicion that someone in your family or one of your friends
is going through your depression, then do not waste time in getting them professional help as you might
not get the time to act upon your intentions later.  
For me, the most obvious difference between sadness and depression is the time duration upon which
they expand. You could be sad due to an event but that sadness won’t last long. Sadness is a mood and
once you have diverted your attention away from the thing that made you sad, your mood changes and
you start to turn into a happy and jolly person that you always were. However, when you have
depression, you do not have ups and downs in your mood. There is a stagnant low with rare highs here
and there. Depression can be hard to spot as you may think that it is the nature or the natural behavior
of the person but that is not the case. The way that the person behaves or has become is the result of
the depression that they have been suffering from for too long.  
Another easy way to tell if someone is depressed is by observing their weight. Since depression is
accompanied by change in appetite or eating habits, you will suddenly observe a drastic change in the
weight or built of the person. They can either gain weight or lose weight, but either of the two, coupled
with other signs of depression is an easy way to guess if someone you love needs your help.  
Also at this point, I would like to talk about the stigma that is attached to visiting a therapist. People,
even in our generation, consider it a taboo when someone has a mental problem or disorder, and that
needs to change. All mental disorders are just like physical problems and need to be treated properly.
Maybe it is because of the stigma attached to it that many people who are even aware of themselves or
a loved one having a mental issue refrain from getting in touch with a therapist or counselor. This really
needs to stop. I have had somebody suffering from a mental problem in my family and things only kept
getting worse until we took them to a psychiatrist. Professional help is the only way you can get your
loved one to lead a normal, happy life. So, I suggest you do not keep them from it.  
Is it okay for parents to have favorites?
As weird as it may sound to anybody who is not a parent yet, but almost every mother and father have
their favorites in the family. It may be a conscious choice or an unconscious one but the sad reality, if I
might say, is that they prefer one child over the other. They might not even be aware of it but you can tell
it by the way they react around them or the way that they talk about them.  
The problem with this is that this kind of behavior can in fact spoil the childhood of a kid and even affect
their psyche for life. It is not only the child who gets lesser attention that suffers, but it is also the child
who gets it in excess. In the former case, the child grows up with the inferiority complex, thinking that
they are generally inadequate. In the latter case, where the kid gets excessive love and pampering at the
hands of parents, he or she grows up with the superiority complex, believing that the world is at their
feet with no respect for anything or anyone. Therefore, if you are favoring one child over the other, then
you are also ruining the child who is your first choice.  
In addition to that, parental favoritism ruins the relation that the kids might share. Siblings are important
in life as they are the first ones that teach us how to behave with the equals. So, having a healthy sibling
relationship is important in the life of every child. By favoring one child and possibly neglecting the needs
of the other, you are actually taking away an important part of both your kids’ life.  
If you are someone whose parents favor their sibling, then I suggest you talk to your parents about how
exactly their behavior makes you feel. There is a good chance that they are unaware how their actions
are telling a devastating tale. You talking to them might just make them realize what they are doing
wrong and they might correct their mistake.  
Also, I would like to add that there is also a chance that there is a good reason behind this parental
favoritism. I understand it sounds funny but it is true. Maybe your parents consider you stronger,
somebody who can survive on their own but your brother or sister may need a little more love and
affection cause they are not as strong as you are.  
The last thing that I would like to suggest you is not to keep your feelings to yourself. Bottled up
emotions can lead to severe mental and physical health problems and make things even worse. A good
way to blow off steam is by talking to someone who is close to you and understands you like a friend or a
family member. Another great way to calm yourself is by writing a journal and letting your emotions flow
through the diary.  
I understand being the neglected or less favored child is not easy but there is something that you can do
about it.  


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