The spectrum of human emotions seems to be one that is jam-packed with hundreds of uncontrollable feelings. While everyone feels sadness every once in a while–like when you realize your favorite show gets cancelled, or your boyfriend blows off your date, or when you fail an exam–not everyone feels sadness all the time, uncontrollably. Today, it seems as though we meet more and more people who believe they suffer from a type of depression. While it’s true that 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, it’s also true that many individuals are unaware that they, too, suffer from depression. As well, there are individuals who believe they have depression when in reality, they are feeling a round of emotions that any human feels several times throughout their lives. Needless to say, there are many individuals who confuse depression and everyday sadness–and, even more, individuals who refuse to face their depression and excuse it as “just feeling blue.” It’s important to understand the key differences in feeling sad and having depression and know when it’s time to get help.
1. How long have you felt sadness?
Experts say that the difference between sadness and depression have a lot to do with timing. When you’re sad, you feel it for a short amount of time–and sometimes, that time can extend itself, but, leading therapists say sadness usually passes within 1-3 days. When you’re depressed, the timeline of your sadness extends for much longer. As well, sadness can come in waves–you feel sad, but when you find something to feel happy about, you’re no longer sad (or as sad). When you’re depressed, you’re usually unhappy for the majority of your day and have no elevation of these feelings. The longer your sadness lasts, the clearer it becomes that the emotional imbalance is not just a regular human emotion and, instead, a bigger problem.
2. Can you spot why you are sad?
Many times when we experience sadness, we know exactly why we are unhappy or what is making us sad. Other times, we feel sad for absolutely no reason and can’t understand why we are so damn unhappy. While depression can have triggers, there are more often times that those who have depression cannot figure out why they are feeling so down and out. The inability to understand or spot why your emotions are in such a low-point is an indication that you may be suffering from depression.
3. Do you sleep through the night?
When we’re sad over something, it may keep us awake grieving for a few days, but, after a while, we move back to our normal sleeping habits and routines. We tend to get our regular hours we usually sleep and feel refreshed after we get that rest. But, when you’re depressed, your sleeping habits become out of order. Many who have depression either sleep too much or not at all. Insomnia and depression are often times highly linked and those who have depression struggle to get out of bed in the morning, regardless if they have/haven’t slept. When you are sad, you move past these emotions and regain your energy when you find things to make you happy. When you’re depressed, you struggle to find the energy to do just about anything.
4. How are your eating habits?
If you experience death or a bad breakup, or maybe you had something traumatic happen to you–it’s hard to eat normally. But, this passes. You move on from the pain and you realize–I’m hungry. When you’re depressed, your appetite changes with your change in neurological imbalances. When you are depressed, you struggle to realize you’re hungry, or that you’re malnourished. Things don’t seem as appealing to you. For example, when you’re sad, your friends may bring your favorite food over to cheer you up (and it does). When you’re depressed, your favorite food looks as bland as sand.
5. Do you still enjoy things in your life?
Sadness may take us away from our hobbies, social life, and other things we enjoyed, but when we push ourselves into these routines, we find ourselves experiencing happiness again. Watching our favorite shows, eating our favorite foods, or seeing our favorite people can make us feel more like ourselves and happy again. Depression, however, is associated with a severe lack of interest in things we once loved and adored. We can watch our favorite show over and over again, but, we can’t seem to find the enjoyment.
6. How do you feel about yourself?
When you suffer from depression, your outlook on yourself isn’t always great. You don’t feel good about yourself–you feel unworthy, not good enough, as though you’ll never amount to much. There are days when you don’t want to look in the mirror because you’re so ashamed of yourself that you almost feel sick. Depression can often time lead to self-destructive thoughts and self-harm.
7. Have you ever had thoughts of self-harm?
Sadness comes and goes in our life, but when we’re sad about an event or situation, we don’t feel as though we want to die (hopefully). If you have ever had thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or anything having to do with your death, disappearance or inflicting pain on yourself–this is a key sign you are suffering from something much bigger than sadness. If you have ever had suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, seek outside help immediately.