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Am I Sad or Depressed?

Updated on July 24, 2018
Rfordin profile image

Rebecca has been a freelancer online for 10+ years. She enjoys writing, editing and being a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful little girls.

Is it Sadness or Depression?

I'm sure at one point or another you have been overcome by sadness. Whatever the cause of that sadness; be it the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or life troubles in general. Sadness stinks.

When flooded with sad thoughts you may start to wonder is this normal sadness? Am I sad? Am I depressed? Wait - what's the difference?

What is Sadness?

Sadness has a simple definition, according to, sadness is when someone is affected by unhappiness or grief. An event took place that led to the feelings of sadness. Sadness is an emotion. As people begin to heal from the wounds that created the sadness a person is often able to pull themselves through their sadness "slump."

Sadness can also be replaced by periods of joy, happiness, and the ability to see through the negative emotions to anticipate positive emotions.

What is Depression?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, "Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home."

Depression robs you of your motivation, spirit and the ability to focus on anything positive. Depression robs you of your self-esteem and makes you feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are not uncommon.

Symptoms of Depression

The main symptoms of depression as classified by the DSM-IV are:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Impaired or lack of concentration
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep)
  • Hypersomnia (sleeping all day)
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Unjustified aches or pains
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • A sense of restlessness (racing thoughts, inability to sit still)
  • Significant changes in weight (loss or gain)

How Common Is Depression?

Hopefully, you find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone, in fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health "an estimated 16.2 million people a year experience at least one major depressive episode." That's roughly 6.7% of all adults.

Is Depression All In My Mind?

Some people might argue that depression is all in your mind. You may hear "come on just snap out of it." Some people may even downplay how serious clinical depression can be. While depression is definitely in your mind (brain), it's not something that a person suffering from true depression can "snap out of." In fact, these kinds of comments are very discouraging to the person suffering from depression. Depression is a brain disease, a disease where the brain lacks the proper chemicals needed to balance things out. For more information on neurotransmitters and depression click here.

A Bucket Analogy On Depression

In the picture above you see two buckets. One bucket, the bucket that represents the normal brain, is full of water. No water will leak out of that bucket unless it is tipped over or spilled.

The second bucket, representing the depressed brain, is full of holes. Nothing can keep that bucket completely full. That bucket could have a constant stream of water being poured into it and still would never be completely full.

Depression is Treatable

The depressed brain is similar to a bucket with holes. The depressed brain has all the capabilities of the normal brain but is unable to recover as easily as the normal brain can. The depressed brain needs help to heal its holes.

Luckily, a person who suffers from depression has many ways to help heal their brain and move forward. With proper treatment, the chemicals the depressed brain lacks can be restored, and the sufferer can begin to heal.

Speak With Your Doctor

Before being diagnosed with clinical depression, your treating physician should run tests to rule out any underlying factors such as drug abuse, hyperthyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc. For a definitive diagnosis of clinical depression to be made 3 or more symptoms must be present, lasting at least two weeks at a time.

When speaking with your doctor, be honest, and remember to mention if you've suffered any traumatic life circumstances in the preceding months. A complete family history may also provide valuable insight for your treating physician.

Remember, depression has a wide variety of treatment options, and with determination and cooperation you and your doctor can figure out what works best for you.

© 2012 Rfordin


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    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 months ago from Florida

      Thanks, Sheila. I've always been so interested in mental health as it directly affects a lot of my loved ones (and our population as a whole). I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Sheila Ann Myers profile image

      Sheila A Myers 

      7 months ago from Elmira

      Very good work!! This is all so true.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Tiffany,

      Often times people who suffer from depression, TRUE depression, go back and forth between 'good and 'bad days, weeks, months, years even hours sometimes (although then you become more of a mood swinger' IE Bipolar or another sister type disorder).

      I'm glad the bucket's made sense to you. Sometimes when I try to explain the bucket analogy it doesn't always make sense to some but then again I wonder if they have ever actually been a suffer of depression.

      I'm glad your 'plugging your holes so to speak, plugging the holes must be done before you can finish the 'patch work. Once those holes (whatever they may be from) are plugged and patched they should no longer be a worry. However if your susceptible to depression like many, many people are it's a never ending road of new holes. Arm yourself with knowledge and you'll be alright!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


    • tiffany delite profile image

      Tiffany Delite 

      7 years ago from Wichita, KS

      this is a great article. i like how you use the analogy of buckets with and without holes to describe people with and without depression. my bucket has holes. over the years the holes seem to have gotten bigger and bigger. oh, i plug them for awhile, but inevitably, before to long, the plugs spring a leak and the holes seems even bigger. i'm in the process of plugging more holes right now. thank you for your article! blessings!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought your story here was very nice as it was full of helpful ideas. Right now depression is more serious than ever, as is are economy. Both are linked because it is in a horrible state, and our political structure is in deadlock. There is much negativity going around, and that in itself brings depression.

    • joer4x4 profile image


      7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Interesting article.

      I would submit that if you believe you are a physical being first then depression originates in the brain due to chemical balance regardless of what one thinks. It is a disease.

      If you believe you are a spiritual being first then your physical being is subservient to your spiritual being. Part of your spiritual self (which is abstract as opposed to physical) is your thought process (also abstract) which your physical being is also subservient to. Therefore thought would have to predetermine physical existence. In that case it would have to be in the mind with the brain exhibiting the symptoms.

      The point is in order to treat depression properly a decision has to be made whether it is a physical or mental problem then proceed with appropriate plan based on purely physical or mental therapy.

      Depression is a horrible state locks expression within the self. And even though we can not change anyone, I think we have a way to go in learning the proper mythology to help those change themselves.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You are so right about what you say. Depression is an illness of the brain that people can't just shake off. It's not a weakness either as some people think. I love your bucket analogy. Great hub! Voted up and others!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Depression is an illness that is hard to deal with as a support person. You want to see the person suffering with this return to a happy lifestyle. Thanks for explaining what it is and how there is hope in treatment. Voted up.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      I agree with you about the "right" medication completely. I also know of a few local dr.'s who are guilty of perscribing certain meds due to "hype" or kickbacks and it's sickening to say the least.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us!!



    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      7 years ago

      Your explanation of depression is excellent. Those that suffer from it, know exactly what you are talking about. Those that do not suffer from it, think all they have to do is take you to a funny movie, buy you a burger and say snap out of it.

      Depression is not uncommon in my family. I do not know if there is any proven genetic link. I suspect there is. The right medication and careful monitoring can do wonders, but it has to be the right medication and not the most popular medication advertised on television last week.

      Very interest and useful. Vote up.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Xanzacow!

    • xanzacow profile image


      7 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      I too like the bucket analogy. Welcome to Hubpages!

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Florida

      Hey Rasta1,

      I'm glad you were able to understand it.... I was a little concerened about people being able to visualize "the bucket scenario". I was worried it would make no sense what-so-ever!

      Thanks for putting my fears to rest and stopping by!!!


    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      The bucket is an interesting analogy. I like how you explain depression.


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