Everyone gets sad sometimes. It could just be a rainy day where nothing goes right or a bigger loss, like a breakup or a death in the family. Feeling low is a normal part of being human. However, people often confuse sadness for depression, or explain away their depression as sadness. Here are some ways to tell the difference between sadness and depression and what to do about both.
Depression and sadness aren’t opposites, but they are different. Feeling extremely sad or experiencing major grief doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re depressed. Sadness is a necessary human emotion and a normal response to certain situations. It’s typically related to a specific event or situation and will eventually lesson. Anything from being bummed out to real grief can be classified as sadness.
On the other hand, depression a lasting feeling that isn’t necessarily tied to a particular situation. While it can be triggered by certain events, it usually lasts much longer than normal sadness.
Sadness also isn’t the only symptom of depression. People who are depressed often lose interest in the things they used to enjoy. Someone who is sad can still enjoy watching their favorite comedy or eating their favorite food, but someone who is depressed likely won’t.
People suffering from depression may also have trouble maintaining healthy and normal habits, losing their appetites and sleeping too much or too little. Depression sufferers may also have increased irritability, feelings of guilt or shame, and difficulty concentrating. Those suffering from extreme depression may also have thoughts of suicide.
If you’re feeling sad, you may want to talk to your friends or family about what’s bothering you. Do things you love that will help you find joy. Give it time—sadness will go away eventually.