The difference between sadness and depression

By Laurie Scarborough

Many people get confused between sadness and depression. Although they are in some ways linked, they are two different experiences.

Sadness is understood to be a feeling of unhappiness that is triggered by a certain upsetting incident. Normally people will know why they feel sad; a bad day at work, a hurtful comment, the death of a loved one. All of these are normal triggers for sadness. In this way, sadness is a normal human experience that all people will have.

Clinical depression however, is characterised by more severe sadness, that lasts for a lot longer than normal sadness and usually lacks a triggering event.  Depression is an abnormal reaction to underlying problems that may not be clear.

To be diagnosed with a Major Depressive Episode, you need to have at least five of the following nine symptoms for more than two weeks and these symptoms need to be causing distress or significant impairment in your work, social or personal life:

  1. Depressed mood (feeling sad, empty, hopeless, tearful)*
  2. Anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable)*
  3. Weight loss or weight gain (without trying to gain or lose weight)
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping for much too long)
  5. Physical agitation or retardation (either being very restless, fidgety and agitated, or very lethargic and noticeably moving too slow)
  6. Fatigue or lack of energy
  7. Feeling worthless or inappropriate guilt
  8. Difficulty in concentration and decision-making
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempt or planning

* It’s important to note that you must experience at least one of the first two symptoms to be diagnosed.

And that, folks, is a summary of the difference between sadness and depression.

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2 thoughts on “The difference between sadness and depression

  1. Pingback: 5 things to never say to a person with depression | becoming laurie

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