Am I Depressed?
A conversation I often find myself having with my clients is whether or not their sadness is actually depression. “Am I Depressed?” “Maybe I’m just sad.” “Everyone gets sad, right?”
Because we associate depression with its primary symptom of pervasive sadness, many of us struggle to tell the difference between these two common psychological states. They both may cause us to cry… maybe even cry a lot. The both may cause us to want to stay in bed all day, rather than facing the outside world. They both cause us emotional pain…
So what’s the difference? How do we differentiate between the emotion of sadness and the actual diagnosis of depression? How do we know when our sadness is something more? The difference is often found in the intensity, the pervasiveness and the length of time.
Sadness is a normal human emotion we will ALL experience as some point or another in our life. We all have life events that can leave us feeling sad. Think about losses you have faced in your life such as death or divorce or disappointments like losing a job and even unhappiness over current financial situations. The reaction of sadness to these life events makes sense. The sadness is a reaction to a SPECIFIC event in your life. Moreover, we find that it will usually pass with time. It is also possible to feel sad about a loss AND still experiences happiness in other areas of your life; perhaps your job or your family.
On the other hand, depression is more pervasive. It takes over most, if not all, aspects of a person’s life. Depression is felt at a much higher intensity than sadness as it is marked by feeling hopeless and sad a majority of the time. While people that are sad may find themselves crying at points in their day, people with depression may find themselves crying throughout their day. Depression also robs us of our motivation to do the activities we once enjoyed. Depression can lead to sleep problems as well as changes in appetite. Unlike sadness, depression can leave a person struggling to get through their day. As you can see, sadness is just one of the elements of depression. In addition to sadness, a person with depression may find himself or herself more angry, impatient and irritable than usual.
So, while sadness and depression can often be confused, it is important to recognize the differences. If you find yourself struggling with overwhelming and pervasive sadness there is help! Clients often find a combination of talk therapy as well as skills-based therapy including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to be effective! Please reach out today!