It is quite common for people to say “I’m depressed” when something doesn’t go their way or they are experiencing a loss of some kind, but are they really? Has depression become synonymous with sadness? And how does this lack of distinction impact people who are sad and/or depressed?
People who suffer from clinical depression struggle on a daily basis to experience happiness due to the immense weight they are feeling. They can feel unable to face the demands of daily life and perhaps exhibit physical symptoms such as sleep issues, weight loss or gain, disturbing or even suicidal thoughts, having low energy, and overall feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious. While depression can be triggered by something that happens, it often manifests without explanation. This disease could affect as much as 10% of the population, but many are suffering in silence.
On the other hand, sadness is a normal human emotion and is usually the result of a specific event, interaction, loss, or relationship issue. Sadness is temporary and rarely leaves the affected person unable to perform their daily activities. Usually when people say they are depressed about something, they are referring to being sad about it unless you know that they have a history of depression and they may – in fact – be experiencing depression. Sadness does not affect someone’s sleeping or eating habits, emotions, or energy long term, but it may do so for a few days.
One specific life circumstance that walks the line between sadness and depression is the grieving process. Certainly anyone experiencing a loss is prone to feeling sadness for some time as they deal with their new reality, and this sadness could look different for everyone. If the individual has a history of depression, grief could trigger a depressive episode similar to or different from their previous experiences. Additionally, a tragic or shocking event like the loss of a loved one could spur on depression in someone who has never experienced it before.
In the case of grief, it is often difficult for the person to recognize whether they are simply sad or truly depressed as a result of the loss. It is important for those around them to be able to recognize radical shifts in behavior and provide the necessary support to help them get through this tough time.
While there is no 100% cure for depression, there are many effective treatments to help depression seem more manageable. One of the most helpful ways to work through depression is during consistent therapy sessions. A therapist can provide the much-needed perspective that you struggle to see from the cloud of depression you feel trapped inside and they can be a caring listener and supporter when you feel like no one could possibly understand what you are feeling. They can talk with you about cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques you can use in your daily life when you feel a depressive episode crashing down on you. They can help you get your life back and not feel so controlled by your thoughts and feelings.
There is hope for you and you are not alone.