Sadness and Depression: How to tell the difference?

By October 18, 2018 No Comments

Sadness and Depression How to tell the difference Lifeworks Counseling Center CarroltonSadness and depression quite often go hand in hand. However, it is important to know the difference from when you are just sad, and when you are actually suffering from depression. It can often be difficult to differentiate between the two, but for your own mental and emotional health it is important that you do.

It is very common that a person is suffering from depression, but just think that they are just sad a lot of the time. Depression is a condition that should never be neglected, which is why it is so very important that one can tell the difference between the two psychological states. There are a few key differences that will help to decipher whether it is sadness or depression that you are suffering from.

Symptoms of depression

Although some of these symptoms can occur with sadness, they are temporary. If you experience these signs for an extended period of time it could be more than sadness. If you are suffering from depression, the common symptoms will likely be associated:

  • Feeling sad constantly
  • Changes in your eating or sleeping patterns
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities or things that once brought you happiness
  • Feelings of guilt (often for things one shouldn’t feel guilty about)
  • Feeling worthless
  • Physical symptoms such as nausea, body aches, or headaches
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should call emergency services immediately to seek help.

How can you tell the difference?

Ask yourself these questions to help differentiate between sadness and depression:

  1. Do you still find enjoyment in the things that you like?
    If you are sad for an extended period of time, it is likely that you will still find bits of enjoyment here and there by things you have always liked. For example, your favorite TV series still brings you laughter and enjoyment, hanging out with your friends distracts you and cheers you up, etc. At the opposing end, if you are suffering from depression, you won’t find as much interest or enjoyment in things and activities that you once truly enjoyed.
  2. Can you associate your emotions to a specific event or happening?
    While it is normal to occasionally have feelings of sadness and not be able to attribute them to any certain factor or occurrence, often feelings of sadness can be pinpointed to a specific event or happening. Certain events like the death of a loved one, homesickness, a break up, etc., can cause extended periods of sadness.

    This isn’t to say that certain events can’t lead to episodes of depression. However, someone who suffers from depression is more likely to be triggered by particularly sad events, and to react more intensely than one that does not suffer from depression.

  3. Do you have normal eating and sleeping patterns?
    A very common sign of depression is that of a change in eating/appetite and sleeping patterns. While intense sadness can slightly affect one’s appetite and sleeping patterns on occasion, it won’t be as severe as with someone who is depressed.

    If your sleeping patterns have changed where you either have trouble sleeping, or want to sleep all the time, it is a sign of depression. If you don’t have an appetite or the desire to eat consistently and for extended periods of times, or find you just don’t care anymore, this is another sign of depression.

  4. What is the consistency of your mood?
    If you are in a sad place, you will still have your ups and downs. Certain things will still elevate your mood and then there will be moments that you may feel sad again. If you are depressed, you will feel a state of down even during “ups”.
  5. Have you experienced punishing or self-harming thoughts?
    If you are suffering from depression you may feel thoughts of worthlessness, hatred, or the lack of desire to live anymore. If you are feeling punishing or self-harming thoughts, you need to seek help immediately to find treatment for your depression.

If you think you may be suffering from depression, you should seek out depression counseling in Dallas. While things may feel hopeless now, you must remember that you are not alone. Many people suffer from depression and many people rise above it. Don’t give up hope, but take a step towards helping yourself and seek out the help of a Dallas psychologist.

Here at Lifeworks, we are a caring and trustworthy team of counselors that want to help you feel like you again. If you are going through a difficult time or perhaps suffering from depression, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us today.

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