Sadness or Depression: What is the difference?

Sadness or Depression

As humans, we have been blessed with varying emotions to live through life and enjoy every bit of it. The feelings, the sudden rush of excitement, joy when we behold sights, love for our dear ones, or sadness when something is amiss is all a part of being alive. Yes, even sadness too. But often sadness is mistaken for depression and that is where the central problem lies. With the enhancement in the field of mental health, it is important for us as well to upgrade our vocabulary and understand the difference between being sad and being depressed.

What is Sadness?

Sadness is one part of the basic human emotion spectrum, characterized by feelings of unhappiness and low mood.


According to American Psychological Association (APA),

“Sadness is an emotional state of unhappiness, ranging in intensity from mild to extreme and usually aroused by the loss of something that is highly valued (e.g., by the rupture of a relationship).” 

Therefore, sadness can be referred to as a normal response to situations that are distressing, disturbing, or disappointing. Sometimes these feelings can become intense and at other times they might remain fairly mild and may persist according to the circumstances arising. So, it can be said that sadness is short-lived and fades through time but depression is not and that is where the line of difference draws. 

What is depression?

Depression on the other hand is more than just sadness. It is a mental health disorder that does not go on its own and persists for longer duration. 

According to American Psychological Association (APA),

“Depression is a negative affective state, ranging from unhappiness and discontent to an extreme feeling of sadness, pessimism, and despondency, that interferes with daily life.

Various physical, cognitive, and social changes also tend to co-occur, including altered eating or sleeping habits, lack of energy or motivation, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and withdrawal from social activities. It is symptomatic of a number of mental health disorders.”

Thus, Depression is classified as a Mood Disorder that may become serious and might have long-lasting effects on not only you but your relationships too.


What are the symptoms of Depression?

It is vital to know that symptoms of Depression must last for at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning. 

  • Sadness. You may feel hopeless, despair, or empty inside. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
  • Anhedonia. Anhedonia is a common symptom of clinical depression. It’s when you lose the ability to enjoy things that used to give you pleasure leading to a marked loss of interest or gratification in all, or almost all, activities.
  • Sleep Problems. You may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. You also may oversleep and not want to get out of bed.
  • Lack of Energy. You feel tired and there is a loss of energy.
  • Weight Issues. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite.
  • Aches and Pains. You may have body aches or pain in certain places — like your back or head — that doesn’t seem to have a physical cause. You may have muscle cramps or an upset stomach. Your pains don’t get better with treatment.
  • Neglect Self-Care. You may no longer care about yourself or how you look or dress. You may stop bathing or showering regularly. 
  • Anger. You may snap at people often, feel angry or resentful, and have verbal outbursts over small slights.
  • Mind Fog. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness. You have trouble thinking clearly or remembering things. 
  • Suicidal Thoughts. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal idealization without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide



Finding ways to conquer sadness or depression demands a lot of effort and may provide you with a few results. But the emphasis needs to be laid that sadness and depression are two different states, where sadness is a part of depression and needs proper evaluation by a specialist to decide and form a diagnosis.

Consequently, feelings of sadness may or may not upraise and here, the difference of when to seek help will lay in your hands. Hence, you need to allow yourself the opportunity to get aid and talk about it thoroughly if the demand ascends. 


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