Depression vs Sadness

The Differences between Depression and Sadness
Posted on 09/01/2022
A girl with a tear in her eye





By Jaycee Pope

Have you been in a situation where you were talking to your friend or loved one and they said, “I am depressed.” You then respond in a supportive way, “Yeah, I feel sad sometimes too.” But the feeling of sadness and being depressed are two different moods that tend to get mixed up.

Sadness is a result of dealing with something that was difficult for you to cope with or understand. Sadness can also happen because you might have been disappointed or are facing tough problems. If you have been feeling sad for approximately two weeks, you should see the doctor for the proper help that you might need.  

Meanwhile, depression is a mental disorder caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain. Depression can start in different circumstances. Some of the most common instances are from traumatic experiences accumulating over time, certain medications, or it can be hereditary. 

There are several types of depression: major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal depression, postpartum depression, and psychotic depression. Depression needs to be reviewed by a medical professional. One is not able to self-diagnose and to have proper treatment if needed. 

Major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression is an indescribable form of sadness and is ongoing throughout someone’s life. MDD can cause a lack of interest in activities that the person may have loved before. This can have a major impact on a person’s life. Some might deal with lack of energy, sleep, concentration, low self-esteem, appetite, or behavioral issues. This can lead to suicidal tendencies, suicidal thoughts, as well as making and performing a plan of a suicide attempt. 

Hallucinating and having delusional thoughts while being depressed is depressive psychosis or psychotic depression. The person can hear, see, smell, feel, and believe in things that are not real while feeling hopeless, fatigued, depressed, disorganized thoughts, and agitated. Although similar, psychosis differs from schizophrenia because on top of the symptoms that were just said; schizophrenia also deals with disorganized speech, strange movements, unusual behavior, and not a lot of emotional expression. 

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is when you experience high to low levels of intense depression (episodes), which are also known as mood swings. The symptoms are related to MDD but at a more intense level. Although they might have low and high depression episodes, that does not mean that they cannot feel happy. Bipolar comes in increments. You can feel happy in the morning but suddenly feel anger and sorrow for the next three weeks. Having manic depression is a constant cycle of emotions that can be extremely exhausting. 

A mild case of long-term depression is persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia. It is a low mood that happens approximately for a span of two years. Hopelessness, low self-esteem, poor appetite, low energy, unbalanced sleep schedule, poor concentration, and loss of interest are all forms of dysthymia. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression happens about the same time every year. Sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, or distancing yourself from people (social withdrawal or “anti-social”) are all associated with seasonal depression. Seasonal depression happens from the end of fall to the end of winter. 

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is depression that happens after childbirth. Those who have PPD can develop major depressive disorder later down the road. The symptoms are insomnia, appetite issues, irritability, feeling unworthy, low self-esteem, and having problems bonding with the child. If you have been feeling this way for about two weeks, you should see a doctor promptly so they can properly help you. 

You are NOT alone! In 2020, The National Institute of Mental Health found that one in five adults in America have mental illness, which is 52.9 million people (about twice the population of Texas).

If you feel alone, depressed, are having suicidal thoughts, want to self-harm, or just need someone to talk to you can call, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (9-8-8), Teen Lifeline (602-248-8336), Crisis Text Line (text “TALK to 741-741”), or The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386).