Sad vs. Depressed: How To Tell The Difference

Everyone experiences sadness, but some people experience an extreme sadness that interferes with their daily life. Some people become depressed once or twice in their life, while others have seasonal depression. Many find it hard to tell the difference between being sad and being depressed. Although they are linked to each other, they are not clinically the same. This article will examine how to tell the difference between sadness and depression.

An Overview

Being sad is a normal human emotion that occurs due to the natural reactions to situations in life which cause you to be upset or in pain. Although there is a varying degree of sadness, it is a temporal emotion that fades away with time.

Being depressed is a mental health condition resulting from untreatable sadness that interferes with your daily tasks and responsibilities- for an extended period of time. This condition is called depression and it impedes on your social and occupational functioning.

Sadness vs. Depression

Someone who’s sad may experience lack of energy or helplessness when faced with life situations. But, even while feeling down and out, a sad person can still gather the courage and energy to fulfill daily tasks, go to work, engage with life, and even build personal relationships. In other words, they can still go on with their daily life.

Conversely, a depressed person, when faced with feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness, finds life no longer worthy of pursuing and becomes disinterested in activities that seemed interesting and pleasurable before.

Also, a person suffering from depression has no interest in life—nothing about life interests or appeals to them. Due to the lack of interest, a depressed person will likely be compounded with even more negative thoughts and hopelessness, as they cannot see past their suffering and pain.

Differences in Daily Habits

A person who’s sad can still maintain a normal sleep pattern and appetite. On the other hand, an individual suffering from depression has serious disruptions to sleeping patterns and a normal eating schedule. A sad person may appear motivated and energized enough to carry in with daily activities. However, a depressed person always appears seriously numb with no vitality and low energy levels. They find the smallest of tasks like taking a shower or making their bed challenging to complete.

Treatment of Sad and Depressed Conditions

Things like talking to a therapist or taking a long solo trip helps individuals experiencing sadness learn healthy ways to cope, and avoid destructive behaviors that can lead to depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy enables them to formulate meaningful activities to help them to overcome sadness and identify the negative thoughts and behaviors.

Depression can be treated by speaking with a mental health professional and joining an inpatient treatment program. They’ll help you identify and address triggers that lead to depression, and help you develop healthy coping skills. Medications such as anti-depressants may also be prescribed during treatment


Sad emotions and feelings fade with time; however, if not treated, they can develop into depression. Fortunately, depression is treatable. So, if you’re noticing signs and symptoms of depression, talk with a mental health professional about entering a treatment program that’s right for you.

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