One is a state of mind, another is a mental health concern. You can make the choice to move on from one, while the other will simply leave you with no motivation to grow as a person and improve your life. Depression is a serious mental health issue that often requires professional attention. However, many often confuse depression with mere sadness, which can only make getting help harder. There are a lot of differences between the two psychological states. But they are often neglected due to the lack of awareness.
Here are some basic differences between depression and sadness:
1. Sadness is an emotion but depression is a mental illness
According to Psychology Today, sadness is a human emotion often triggered by new challenges, experiences or events. However, depression is an abnormal emotional state that affects your thinking, perceptions, and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways. When an individual is depressed, they show certain symptoms such as loss of interest in activities they enjoyed, low energy, a feeling of worthlessness.
2. Sadness is a reaction but depression is a state of mind
Sadness is often caused by a specific event, experience or challenging situation such as a recent breakup or a loss in the family. The emotion is unique to every individual. Depression, on the other hand, is a state. An individual who is depressed feels sad about everything in life. It is not triggered by anything in particular. Their lives may be perfect on paper but they might be feeling horrible emotionally. They might experience various symptoms without any push from their surroundings.
3. Sadness fades with time but depression persists
When a person feels sad over something that caused them to hurt or loss, they can find a way to move past the situation or choose to let go of the factors that cause them sadness. With time, they are healed. However, when you suffer from depression, it breaks down your self-esteem in ways that make it difficult to find a way out or even believe that you can move on from it. And this only makes it persist longer. Patients tend to display at least five symptoms of depression such as constant tiredness, thoughts of self-harm, irritable mood, loss of interest in things you used to love doing, etc.
4. Sadness affects your mood but depression changes your life
Going through a bad phase in life can affect your mood and how you feel about the situation. A person may not feel happy because their mind is still thinking about the reason that caused them a bad mood. However, when they are preoccupied with daily activities, they might not be bothered by the event. But depression affects an individual’s life regardless of where they are or how great their life may seem on the outside. You start losing interest in everything, and lack the motivation to change something that makes you unhappy.
Depression weakens the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. They would not be able to feel the joy, thrill, excitement or even understand the meaning of their lives. It breaks down the person and makes it difficult for them to get back to their normal life. According to Psychcentral, social, educational and occupational areas of life are impacted negatively due to the state of depression.
5. Sadness is subjective but depression needs to be diagnosed
An individual who is sad knows they are going through a particular emotional state due to a specific event. However, a person who suffers from depression may not know the reasons of their psychological state. It requires a medical diagnosis. Therefore, the best time to consult a doctor is if you experience symptoms such as irritable mood, unexplained sadness, lack of interest etc. consistently for at least a 2 week period.