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.
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.
#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.
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#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.
#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.
#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.
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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.