Health & Fitness

How to Know If You’re Depressed Or Just Sad?

Mariam Youssef
7/20/22, 5:00 PM

At certain points in our lives, we feel sad. Sadness can be a result of an unfortunate event like a breakup, getting fired from work, or losing a loved one. When you’re feeling extremely sad, you may think that you’re going through depression. You may even start telling everyone around you that you’re depressed. But do you really know what depression is? And how can you tell if what you’re going through is depression or mere sadness?

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What Is The Difference Between Sadness and Depression?


As mentioned above, sadness is a natural emotion that everyone feels at a specific point in their life. It is usually triggered by a shocking situation, where you mostly feel down for a specific period of time. Like any other emotion, sadness is temporary and it fades away with time. If you’re sad, you may find relief in crying, cheering yourself up with humor, or sharing your feelings with your best friend. Think about sadness as a simple cold as opposed to serious flu, which represents depression. Sadness is often a response to a situation, while depression tends to throw itself over every single situation.


While depression is all about feeling sad, it is totally different from sadness. Depression is a mental illness that needs to be taken and treated seriously. Like any illness, depression has several symptoms, such as being exhausted all the time, losing interest in the things you used to love, and having suicidal thoughts. These symptoms have to last at least two weeks before you assume that you’re depressed. These are not the only symptoms of depression; there are more severe ones. If you think that you’re depressed and the sadness you’re feeling doesn’t go away, it is best to consult a doctor.

Symptoms of Sadness

Think about the most recent unfortunate situation that you faced; does it make you feel sad? Do you feel like crying when you remember this specific situation? Well, this is mostly what sadness is about. You feel like doing nothing and you procrastinate everything but only for a momentary period of time. Moreover, when you’re sad, some activities don’t interest you as much as they used to and you may even notice some weight gain or loss due to the traumatic experience you’re going through. Some people may also face mild sleep problems for a short period of time. They may as well lose concentration at work or school and tend to have repetitive sad thoughts, especially when they’re alone.

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Symptoms of Depression

As discussed earlier, depression is a mental illness that can be triggered by sadness. Some people mistakenly think that they’re depressed because they’re feeling very sad. However, depression has several symptoms that are way more serious. If you’re depressed, you tend to feel sad all the time, over everything in your life for a long time. You may also lose motivation to do anything, such as getting up from bed or going to work; you may actually stop going to work if you’re really depressed. Depressed people usually notice significant weight gain or loss and a significant sleep disturbance for over two weeks. They usually have distressing, repetitive thoughts whether they’re alone or with company. Depression can also take over and strongly interfere with concentration at work or school. Furthermore, depressed people tend to move and talk slowly and they always feel emptiness, worthlessness, and helplessness.

Types of Depression

Major depression:

You may notice severe symptoms that can interfere with your ability to work, move, eat, sleep, or enjoy life.

Persistent depressive order:

Your depressed mood lasts for at least two years. You may encounter major depression episodes along with minor ones.

Psychotic depression:

This condition takes place when someone has severe depression along with psychotic problems, such as hallucinations or delusions.

Postpartum depression:

You’d probably experience this type of depression after giving birth because of the physical and hormonal changes your body goes through, in addition to the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a newborn.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD):

This usually happens during the winter months as there is less sunlight. People with SAD usually feel better once the spring and summer months come along with light therapy. Some people, however, need more than that to overcome this type of depression.

Bipolar Disorder:

This type of depression is a mood disorder, in which someone may feel extremely depressed and low, but also experience high mood elevation, at least once in their life.

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How to Cope with Sadness?

The first thing you should do when you’re sad is to allow the sadness. Holding it back is detrimental, which can make you feel so much worse. It all starts with acceptance. Accept your sadness, express it, cry out loud, or do anything that helps you express your sadness. It can be also helpful to write down what you’re feeling or what’s making you sad. This can help if you’re not too good at turning your emotions into words. You can also take thoughtful walks. Choose your favorite time of the day and take a walk, in which you get to enjoy some fresh air and some alone time. This can help you organize your thoughts and change your perspective. Last but not least, try to engage yourself in the activities you love or just the activities that normally make people happier, such as eating your favorite food, taking a long hot bath, or watching a feel-good movie.

How to Deal with Depression?

Just like any other illness, clinical depression has to be treated. Therefore, if you think that what you’re going through isn’t just sadness, you need to go to a doctor. The first thing your doctor will probably do is to give you medications that include antidepressants. Along with medications, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a type of talking therapy that aims to deal with the root cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. When these therapies don’t work, brain stimulation therapies can be recommended for those with extreme symptoms of depression. Another way to deal with depression is to change your lifestyle. Try to include aerobic exercises, yoga, or meditation in your daily routine. They can help with reducing the symptoms of depression.

Finally, whether you’re dealing with depression or sadness, know that it’ll pass. If you’re sad, know that it’s just a temporary emotion and don’t give in to feeling down; embrace your sadness, but don’t let it control you. Additionally, if you’re depressed, the good news is there is a treatment that can get you better. The most important thing is that you identify what you’re feeling so you can deal with it in the best way possible.



Mariam Youssef

Growing up, I've always wanted to become so many things: a fashion designer, painter, singer, actress, and anything that revolves around art. It wasn't until I watched "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" t...

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