We all know what its like to feel sad. But not everyone can connect with what it might feel like to be depressed. Not understanding depression, is part of the reason that it can be hard to know when your own sadness may be turning into something more serious.
The truth is that there are quite a few differences between the typical human emotion of sadness and depression. Think you might have depression? Consider these five differences:
1. Brief Sadness Is Normal - Constant Sorrow Is Not
Sadness is a typical human experience, and it's perfectly normal to feel sad when you are grieving a loss or struggling with something in your life. On the other hand, constant sadness may indicate that you may be experiencing a depressive episode. Sadness tends to be broken up by happy times, whereas depression often persists in spite of positive events. In fact, depression often leads to the feeling that joy simply is not possible.
2. Depression Leads to Daily Life Changes - Sadness Doesn't
People experiencing depression also tend to experience changes in weight, sleep and diet. You may lose or gain weight or begin experiencing insomnia. Depression also comes with the loss of enjoyment for activities you once loved. You used to love running, and now you can't find the motivation to do it. You once loved your job, but now you can't even seem to care about work and find yourself calling in sick more often than usual.
3. Depression Comes with Cognitive Symptoms - Sadness Doesn't
Cognitive symptoms associated with depression include distorted thoughts, trouble with concentration, and memory difficulties. Many people with depression even struggle to make decisions most would find easy - what to eat for breakfast, which way to go to work, or what shoes to wear.
Another symptom of depression can be pervasive negative thoughts about yourself (especially if this is not how you usually think). When depressed, it is common not to feel like "yourself." So often clients talk to me about being frustrated with themselves. These thoughts often create feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
4. Depression Often Doesn't Include Sadness
If you are depressed, you might not feel sad at all. Instead of sad, you may feel... nothing. This is frequently described as numbness.
Or, instead of sadness, you may feel irritable. Men feel angry more often than women when they are clinically depressed.
Unfortunately, some still view depression as weakness. If you are someone with this view, please know, that this is simply not true. It takes great strength and courage to seek treatment for depression. And working your way back from depression is hard work. Strength, courage, hard work - these are the opposite of weakness.
If you realize that you are experiencing depression, getting help is essential. A counselor can help you sort through these feelings to determine your course of action. Call me, or email, to schedule an appointment.