Depression and sadness: Is it the same?

We often hear people saying “ I am so depressed” when they are extremely sad because of any situation, like losing a job, experiencing a breakup, or maybe a small fight with parents. Most of us might be using the word depressed as a replacement for sad because of the unfamiliarity with the scientific terms. Is the word “Depressed” really a replacement for the word “Sad”? The answer is –NO.  Depression and sadness are two different concepts. We can say that – sadness is like gaining weight because of eating junk food for one month whereas depression is obesity.  Then what exactly is sadness and depression? How they are different from each other?

Sadness –

Sadness can be coined as ‘feeling low’, ‘feeling down’, ’feeling blue’ etc. Sadness is a normal human emotion that every person experiences in his/her life during stressful life events such as failing an exam, not getting a job, etc. Sadness usually passes as time goes. It does not stay with you for longer periods. When you are sad, you can easily carry out your daily routine. Usually, sadness is a response to a specific event or situation in life. You may get over sadness all by yourself by using various techniques such as writing your thoughts down or just sitting quietly or listening to your favorite music. You might just need to find out the way by which you can eliminate sadness. Sadness can be subjective. It is something that you experience independently. 

Depression –

Depression is a mental illness that is not experienced by everyone. It is an intense, longer-lasting mood that involves various symptoms such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, excessive inappropriate guilt, changes in sleep and appetite, etc. for a longer period. It is long term and does not pass as time goes and stays with the person for a longer period. When the person is depressed, it is difficult to carry out his/her routine activities as well because of lethargy Depression often have biological or genetic as well as environmental factors. It is possible that because of genetic factors as well as life events, depression can occur. Depression sometimes can feel like the person’s body and mind are completely shutting down. People with depression usually cannot pull themselves together. Instead of self-diagnosing, it is always suggested that a person seeks a mental health professional’s help to diagnose if you are going through depression or not. Also, the person himself/herself cannot and should not treat themselves. Instead of that, a person should always seek help from a mental health professional as a treatment. The treatment of depression includes psychotherapy as well as medications.

Depression is a common mental disorder affecting more than 264 million people worldwide. Depression is ranked as the single largest contributor to global disability. According to the study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) around 200 million people in India may suffer from depression, i.e. one in five people.

Depression and sadness are the two sides of the coin and though they are linked to one another, they are not the same. It is always advised that seek a medical opinion if sadness continues for a disproportionate amount of time.  Instead of taking quizzes that say – ‘Get to know if you are depressed in 2 minutes’, go to a mental health professional to know about your current state. “Sadness is a normal human emotion that everyone feels from time to time,” says Johny Williamson, a medical doctor from Illinois whereas “Unlike sadness, depression is not universal,” says Todd Hutton, a medical director at Southern California. Though conquering depression needs efforts, it is always possible to overcome it in your life if you choose to take proper help.

So, seek help! Be aware! Choose Your words wisely!


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Sawani Oak - Kale

MA Clinical Psychology, Counselor, Co-founder at Unico

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