In this weeks installment of my ongoing series I am going to answer the question: “What is the difference between being sad and being depressed?” Everyone has been sad at one point in their life or another. Sadness is a natural emotion that has many known causes; the death of a loved one, an argument with family or a friend, a bad review at work, or a bad grade in school are just some of the many reasons a person may experience sadness.
Depression is a longer lasting emotion. In 2012 6.9% of the US population experienced a depressive episode. People can experience depression in varying ways, but to be diagnosed with depression a person must experience at least 5 of the following symptoms over a two-week period, and at least one symptom must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities:
- Depressed mood most of day, nearly every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities.
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting).
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
- Diminished ability to think/concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or suicide plan/attempt.
The above symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in a person’s life, and cannot be attributable to physiological effects such as a substance or other medical condition.
Whereas sadness will get better with time, depression often requires outside assistance from a professional, such as a psychiatrist or therapist.
I have heard people describe depression in a lot of different ways. Some say it feel like they are numb and have little emotion or affect. Others, like me, feel a crushing sadness and at times it feels as though even moving my arm, or clicking a button on a mouse is too tiring to bother with. While sadness stays in the mind, depression shares the discomfort with the body.
If you are experiencing depression, please talk to a professional. If you are suicidal, please contact the suicide helpline.