I don’t get angry very easy, but I do get irritated. As someone whose been struggling with a diagnosis of Depression for over 2 years, it irritates me when people replace the feeling of ‘sadness’ with ‘depression’. Sadness is no where near the same as Depression.
Sadness is a normal human emotion. We’ve all experienced it and we all will again. Sadness is usually triggered by a difficult, hurtful, challenging, or disappointing event, experience, or situation. In other words, we tend to feel sad about something. This also means that when that something changes, when our emotional hurt fades, when we’ve adjusted or gotten over the loss or disappointment, our sadness remits.
Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions, and behaviours in pervasive and chronic ways. When we’re depressed we feel sad about everything. Depression does not necessarily require a difficult event or situation, a loss, or a change of circumstance as a trigger. In fact, it often occurs in the absence of any such triggers. People’s lives on paper might be totally fine—they would even admit this is true—and yet they still feel horrible.
Sadness usually goes away when the thing we’re worried or upset about is resolved or goes away too. Depression can not only last days but weeks and months, even years. Depression colours all aspects of our lives, making everything less enjoyable, less interesting, less important, less lovable, and less worthwhile. Depression saps our energy, motivation and ability to experience joy, pleasure, excitement, anticipation, satisfaction, connection, and meaning. All your thresholds tend to be lower. You’re more impatient, quicker to anger and get frustrated, quicker to break down, and it takes you longer to bounce back from everything.
To be diagnosed with depression, people need to have at least 5 of the following symptoms, for a continual duration of at least two weeks. This means you experience these symptoms constantly for 14 days. Be advised: The severity of these symptoms must also be considered, so please use these only as a guideline and see a mental health professional for a conclusive diagnosis.
- A depressed or irritable mood most of the time.
- A loss or decrease of pleasure or interest in most activities, including ones that had been interesting or pleasurable previously.
- Significant changes in weight or appetite.
- Disturbances in falling asleep or sleeping too much.
- Feeling slowed down in your movements or restless most days.
- Feeling tired, sluggish, and having low energy most days.
- Having feelings of worthless or excessive guilt most days.
- Experiencing problems with thinking, focus, concentration, creativity and the ability to make decisions most days.
- Having thoughts of dying or suicide.
All I want to do with this post is to simply remind you that there is a fine difference between sadness and depression. Please be aware that when you say, “oh, im so depressed today.” or “she looks depressed.”, that you are referring to a mental illness that has such a large impact on daily functioning for people who suffer with it.
Mental Illnesses are far more than ’emotions’. They are disorders, illnesses, conditions that affect the mind and steal daily functioning of the individual affected. Be mindful, be open, be aware and simply understand the difference between an emotion and an illness.
[Credit: Guy Wynch]