Are you Depressed or Just Sad?

by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Life throws curves balls. So we all at times feel overwhelmed and unhappy.

Feeling sad can even be a good thing. It means we are processing a difficult experience instead of burying our feelings. And a good cry can leave us able to relax and sleep. We can wake up with a new perspective, feeling renewed.

But when is sadness no longer helpful? How can we tell the difference between being just sad, and being depressed and needing proper support?

Here are some ways that depression is not the same as sadness.

1. Depression often has no exact cause.

When we are sad, we know why. We have lost a loved one, feel hurt by a friend, or just are not able to handle what is expected of us. Depression, on the other hand, is far less logical. Suddenly, there is a dark cloud in our life. Even if we try to figure out and take care of why we feel so low, the feeling doesn’t lift.

2. Depression is consisent.

Going out with friends or engaging in a fun activity can mean our sadness lifts. And we can be sad one day, but not the next. If it's depression, however, you will feel low no matter what you do or who you are with. It might feel stronger at some times than others, but it’s like a blanket you can’t shake off.

3. Depression causes extreme thinking.

Sadness can make us feel negative. We worry we’ll never find another partner, never be loved, never find a job so good as the one that just ended. Depression, on the other hand, brings much darker and more dramatic thinking. Your life is pointless, everyone hates you, you will never have good things happen to you ever again, there is no use in trying…. etcetera.

4. Depression comes with physical side effects.

Sure, sadness can leave us feeling more exhausted than usual. Depression, on the other hand, can wipe us out. We are too tired to get out bed, and it feels like we are walking with bags of sand weighing us down. And then there are the various other side effects depression can bring. Your appetite changes so you are over or undereating, your sleeping pattern is all over the place, you have a brain fog that won’t lift, and you start getting unexplained aches or constant flus and colds.

5. Depression makes you feel helpless.

It can feel overwhelming to feel sad. But most of us know that if we call a certain friend or family member we love, we will feel better. When we are depressed, however, we feel beyond hope. We can’t imagine that things will ever improve.

6. Depression takes away your passion for living.

If we are sad, we still like the same friends, and keep the same hobbies. We are still ourselves. Depression can make us start to feel like someone else entirely. We suddenly don’t want to see any of our friends, we don’t answer the phone when family calls, and we have no interest anymore in the pastimes that once used to mean so much to us.

7. Depression lasts.

With time, sadness lifts. But depression continues. If you’ve been sad for more than a few months, then it’s time to seek support. It’s likely your sadness has rolled into depression.

Worried you are depressed? Why not try a session with one of our therapists and talk in total confidence about what you are going through with someone who completely understands? Book today and be talking to someone as soon as tomorrow.

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