MentalHealth 101: How To Differentiate Depression From Sadness



Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the whole wide world. And since it is incurable, it turns out to be among the deadliest psychological illnesses as well.

Based on a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2016, almost 13 out of 100,000 individuals took their lives because of depression. Most of them are young people between the ages of 15 and 24, as well as those who identify as Alaskan Natives or American Indians. Someone commits suicide every 28 seconds that pass, which is genuinely saddening.

All the same, did it ever occur to you that perhaps depression is not the problem? Maybe the person is merely going through a bout of sadness, but it is still not grave enough to get considered as a mental disorder. With the two not being differentiated early, though, lives were destroyed.

To (hopefully) put an end to this recurring yet silent issue, here are a few ideas that may help you recognize the distinctive points of the mental illness and the emotion.



1. Whereas Depression Is A Place You Can’t Get Out Of, Sadness Is A Passing Feeling 

One easy way to describe depression is that it is no different from a house where you locked yourself in before throwing the main key outside. Some individuals might raise their eyebrows after reading what we’re about to say, but it is a choice to remain in that place. If you want to leave, you should have started breaking down the walls from the inside or shouting for help until somebody hears you. Since you are still there, it merely tells us that you are scared to face reality or you don’t trust yourself to take affirmative action on your own.

Sadness, on the other hand, is comparable to a season. Regardless if it’s winter, summer, spring, or autumn, the emotion is not supposed to be there forever. It does not require any treatment either, considering you can get over it after some time.



2. Being Sad Is A Natural Reaction While Feeling Depressed Is An Acquired Behavior

Sadness is an emotion that you tend to experience when something does not go your way. You have most likely been dealing with it ever since you were born; thus, you cried whenever you’re hungry, or you had been sitting on a wet diaper for too long. You can carry this feeling as you grow up and make it your first reaction if, for instance, your partner splits with you, the business is not doing well, or someone you love died. It’s natural; it’s raw emotion.

Meanwhile, you might be aware that a few scientists assume that depression may be hereditary. In short, if there is a depressed person in the family, their descendants have a high chance of getting the illness too. What makes us believe that feeling depressed is a rather acquired behavior, though, is the fact that everyone has come into this world as a happy, innocent infant. Even if kids with depression are as young as four years old these days, they may not have had this condition if there have been no external factors that influenced them – either directly or indirectly – to become depressed.



3. Depression Is A Label That Many Folks End Up Embodying

Let’s not forget that depression is an umbrella term that psychologists or psychiatrists use to help folks realize why they tend to experience hopelessness, fatigue, lack of interest in life, et cetera. Because of that, people can be quick to conclude that it is the only possible problem that they have. Some say, “Oh, can’t you sleep well? Don’t you love your job anymore? That must be depression.” Others think, “I have been restless in the past few days, unable to concentrate on anything. It is probably depression.”

The thing is, many individuals prefer to self-diagnose instead of going to a mental health practitioner for confirmation. The downside of doing so is that they might not genuinely have the disorder, yet they live as if they do. It will be effortless to act accordingly after receiving a real diagnosis.

Final Thoughts

The ideas mentioned above have not been given to belittle what the mental health patients are going through or dismiss their feelings. As a long-time depression fighter myself, it is understandable if you find them hard to believe at first, especially when you still feel like you keep hitting rock-bottom. Despite that, we ask you to think about it with an objective mind once more.

Sadness is always known as one of the symptoms or triggering factors of depression – and that is true. However, sadness can also go away if you don’t block it. Remember that you may feel distraught now, but it does not have to progress and become a mental illness as soon as you label your emotions correctly.

Good luck!