Depression vs Sadness: What’s The Difference…


Depression vs Sadness: What’s The Difference



When a person is sad, there isn’t a need for medical treatment, but left untreated, depression can become a major hindrance. Being able to spot depression vs sadness may be able to save someone’s life, maybe even yours.

To someone that is unfamiliar with depression, it may seem that someone suffering from it is simply sad. Even to someone who is familiar with the differences between these issues, it can be difficult to tell them apart.

We have compiled a list of key differences to help you decide whether or not you should seek professional treatment or maybe just some time with friends. Keep reading for more information!

Depression vs Sadness

To begin with the differences between depression and sadness, there are a few things to note. First, sadness is a normal emotion and can be felt for hours or a few days. It is uncomfortable but easy to ‘get over.’

Depression, on the other hand, is not just an emotion. It is a psychological disorder or mental illness that needs to be diagnosed based on long-lasting symptoms.

The DSM-V is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that is used to diagnose mental illnesses. According to this manual, there are nine major symptoms of depression and at least five must be present for at least two weeks for this diagnosis.

As you can see, there are already significant distinctions when considering depression and sadness.

Sadness Over an Event

Many people will feel sadness over certain events that transpire in their lives. These events can range from a relationship ending to the death of a loved one. Sometimes people are sad for reasons they may not know or understand, but this will quickly pass.

Because depression is a mental illness, it can strike at any time with or without a prompting event. It can feel like a deep sadness, but instead of it going away, the feeling sticks around for weeks, months, or years.

Depression can be triggered by events of sadness, but it doesn’t have to be. Many times a depressed person can seemingly have a great life but suffer great mental and emotional pain. Depressive patients often become frustrated in these situations because they know their life appears happy but can’t stop the way they feel.

Longevity is Important to Note

When someone is sad, this mood or emotion can come and it can pass. You can distract yourself with funny videos or by doing other activities. The sadness over a loved one’s passing may last for several days or even weeks but during that time you will have high points.

Depressive states typically lack the better emotions and are relatively consistent in feeling low. Fighting depression is difficult because the funny videos or other activities are no longer interesting.

It’s worth noting that a diagnosis of depression does not mean laughter, smiles, and activities will not occur. These events just won’t happen quite as often.

Sleeping Too Much or Too Little

Everyone gets overly tired from time to time. It might be from a late night at work, an illness, or overloading yourself in other ways. In addition, a sad person may take a nap as a way to cope with their emotions.



Oppositely, depression can cause people to sleep for days on end, or not at all. Sometimes all a depressed person will want to do is sleep and physically cannot get out of bed. Other times, depression can cause insomnia and a person will look like a cast member of The Walking Dead.

Weight Loss That Isn’t a Good Thing

Mentally healthy people might deal with sadness by eating a pint of ice cream. Likewise, mentally healthy people who are sad may opt to skip dinner but wake up feeling ravenous. Once the morning comes, eating habits return to normal and the day continues.

When someone is dealing with depression, others may notice a major weight loss or possibly weight gain. Depressive disorders can cause those who are affected to eat everything in sight or almost nothing at all. One option isn’t better than the other, and it isn’t a choice–many times, those who don’t eat simply forget.

If you’ve been noticing your eating habits have changed and are accompanied by gaining or losing weight, this could be a sign of depression.

Thoughts of Self-Harm

Seek help if you are having self-harming thoughts, no matter if you believe you are just sad, perfectly fine, or are depressed.

Sadness is an emotional pain that everyone experiences. It can be accompanied by crying, thoughts of missing someone, regret, or even anger. Sadness does not include thoughts of suicide or other self-harm.

Depression can be a scary, tricky beast. Your brain can suddenly make you have thoughts of worthlessness or that the world is better without you. These are completely untrue and the mark of a serious disorder.

Unless you’ve experienced suicidal ideations for yourself, the emotions are difficult to explain. The feeling of inescapable darkness and loneliness bear down and ending your life may feel like your only option. It’s not!

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a great place to start if you are having these thoughts. After speaking with them, it is smart to find a psychologist or a therapist you can trust.

Beating Depression

Now that you can spot depression vs sadness, you might have some work to do.

If you are sad, by all means, feel sad! Beat on a pillow, eat some ice cream, call a friend, and make some jokes.

If you believe you are depressed or are still unsure, it is important to speak with someone. Depression is not just a feeling but is a mental illness. This means it needs to be diagnosed and treated by a professional.

Seeking professional help if you believe you are suffering from depression is the first step in beating it. The next step is just as important–follow the treatment plan!

When you are ready to learn more about mental illness or to speak with a professional, contact us!

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Dr. Cassidy Blair

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