Is It Sadness or Depression?

What’s the difference between sadness and depression?

Sometimes people think of depression as a more extreme form of sadness.  However, there is an unmistakable difference between someone going through a time of sadness versus living with depression.  To be sad is to be human.  It is a natural emotion that we all experience from time to time.  Depression, on the other hand, is an illness that includes much more severe symptoms than sadness.

The depressed often find that their dark feelings do not have an explanation.  Remarks by friends and family to “get over it” is just like telling someone suffering from a disease such as diabetes to “get over it.”  When we’re sad, it usually passes within a day or two.  With depression, the symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years.  A sad person feels down but usually continues his or her day-to-day activities; the depressed often feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

Depression is characterized by five symptoms:

1) Depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day

2) Reduced interest in daily activities for most of the day, nearly every day

3) Weight changes (usually on the extreme side, such as a change of more than 5% of body weight in a given month) or decreased appetite

4) Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)

5) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day

Your Employee Assistance Program, provided by Magellan Health, has resources and experience to help you with more information. Visit or call 1-877-704-5696 for more information, referrals and support.

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About Lorea Seidel

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