When Being “sad” becomes Depression?
Updated: May 5, 2019
Let's discuss when sadness becomes depression! Millions of people around the world experience sadness or depression at some point in their lives. However, recognizing the difference between a diagnosis of depression and the emotion of sadness can help a person process both in a healthful way.
Being that I work in the mental health field, I generally get the eye roll when I encourage individuals to seek out help when life presents challenges. Same as if a friend were coughing up a lung, I would insist they go see a medical provider. The only difference is that it is less controversial to see a medical provider than a mental health professional. Why? Don’t we all experience the ups and downs of life? Don’t we all want to feel like our best selves and genuinely enjoy life?
If this is the case, it is imperative that we understand that challenges in life will happen and at times we are prepared and in other times we are not. When you get thrown with the most gut punching blow and you cannot get back up what do you do? How long do you allow yourself space to deal with the challenge alone? Have you told yourself “this too shall pass”? In most cases, it does pass over yet in others it does not. Being able to determine if this season is just sadness, feeling blue, and/or undeniably depression is key.
What is sadness or a normal reaction to an unexpected event in our lives?
Feelings of sadness are something that is temporary in nature and the individual has the ability to draw upon internal coping skills on their own. Sadness does not generally disrupt an individual’s daily functioning for long periods of time.
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
When 5 or more of the below symptoms occurs most of the day, nearly every day for 2 persistent weeks:
· Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
· Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
· Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
· Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
· Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
· Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
· Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
· Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
· Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
· Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
· Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
· Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
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