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Differentiating Depression from Sadness

Differentiating Depression from Sadness

Struggling with depression can feel overwhelming

Many people do not appreciate that there are several important distinctions between sadness and clinical depression. Understanding these differences is vital, as it allows individuals to determine whether or not they should seek professional treatment.

Sadness Is Normal

It is important on the front end to state that sadness is normal. Every person has experiences in which sadness is an appropriate response, even a sadness that lasts several days. Tumultuous events like the loss of a loved one, sudden unemployment, or divorce – among many others – are challenging. An emotional response of sadness is normal and healthy. This is not necessarily an indication of clinical depression.

Know the Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Clinical depression is much more than being sad for an extended period of time. The symptoms of clinical depression extend beyond the emotion of sadness. The first key is longevity. It is typically understood that an individual with depression will present at least five of the following symptoms for two weeks or more:

  • An inconsistent sleep pattern, in which an individual cannot fall asleep, is sleeping too much, or is falling asleep at unusual times.
  • A change in appetite that causes significant weight loss or gain in a fairly short period of time. In this context, significant means 5 percent or more of a person’s body weight in the course of a month.
  • General fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or overwhelming amounts of guilt.
  • A strong sense of pessimism toward life in general. With this symptom it is important to take into account an individual’s overall personality. For example, if a person is typically cynical, a continuation of this pessimism may not indicate clinical depression.
  • Concentration problems that interfere with work or school performance.
  • Feelings of emptiness and frequent or uncontrollable crying.
  • An inordinate amount of irritability. Again, keeping personality in mind is important here, as is the prevalence of irritability in typical adolescence.

If you are struggling with depression, or know someone who is, it can feel overwhelming. This is especially true because one of the symptoms of clinical depression is lethargy, an unwillingness or inability to do anything. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and help is available.

Find Depression Help Today

We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about depression. We can help you find your way.

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