Sadness or a low mood is not always an inappropriate response. There are many events or stressors in life (death of a loved one, a breakup, a job loss, etc) that can make you feel these emotions. This type of understandable reaction is not usually cause for worry.
However, one of the reasons depression is often misunderstood is that people may equate it with being sad or unhappy.
And while being sad or unhappy may be symptoms of depression, it’s NOT the same thing. In fact, many people live with the symptoms of depression for years without treatment because they do not realize they have a recognized, treatable mental illness.
How Can You Tell The Difference?
Usually sad feelings will last a few days or maybe a week. Additionally, during this time a person is able to function normally in their life, fulfill duties and tasks, perform regular daily activities, coexist with others, and eat/sleep normally.
Depression, on the other hand, tends to have an element of consistency. In other words, these feelings last for more than a week or two and the feelings are more constant and prevalent.
Depression also tends to have an impact on a person’s daily life and level of functioning. For example, a person will normally find the emotions are causing an interference with work, interpersonal relationships, and social situations.
What Are Some Other Symptoms To Look Out For?
Beyond the elements of consistency and an interference with normal daily life, there are often other symptoms to be aware of:
– Loss of interest in normal activities
– Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
– Sleep issues
– Changes in appetite
– Weight loss or weight gain
– Feelings of hopelessness
– Feelings of worthlessness
– Feeling of guilt
– Thoughts of death or suicide
When Should You Get Help?
If you’re feeling 3 or more of the symptoms above and they have lasted for more than a week, or, if these symptoms are interfering with your ability to function normally, you may have depression.
If so, it’s important to seek treatment. With the right treatment, depression WILL get better.
If you would like more information on sadness vs. depression, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel you could use additional help, please contact our office at 917-609-4990 to arrange a consultation.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff