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How to Know If Your Sadness is Depression

Updated on December 4, 2011

Sad or Depressed?


How to Know about Sadness and Depression

Most people get sad, from time to time, and you may be wondering if that sad feeling is the same thing as depression. In mental health, depression refers to a group of clinical mood disorders (illnesses) that are more problematic than sadness. According to the National Institute For Mental Health, the prevalence of mood disorders in the United States is about 9.5%, while nearly everyone gets sadness now and then.

Generally, if you are depressed or have a mood disorder, then the problems you are dealing with have interfered with your life. Maybe you are falling behind on your work or studies, or your relationships are strained, in part, because of your mood. You may not be sleeping or eating normally, or in some other way these problems are just too unsettling.

Sadness is a symptom of depression, but you can be depressed and not feel sad, and sadness alone would not be considered depression. Furthermore, a depressed mood typically refers to sadness that persists, often lasting for weeks. The following symptoms are among the most prominent for the various mood disorders, and if you have several, a psychologist or psychiatrist can be helpful in turning the corner towards a more healthy and normal mood:

  • Sleeping too little or too much, especially waking up in the middle of the night or early morning.
  • Loss of interest in things that you used to regularly enjoy.
  • Persistent, noticeable sadness or irritability.
  • A change of appetite, especially with accompanying unintended weight loss or gain.
  • Difficulty concentrating or being easily distracted.
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Hopeless feelings, or thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Poor self-worth or lack of confidence.

Of course other things can cause these problems, including medical conditions like anemia, mononucleosis, or tuberculosis, so consulting with a doctor is the best next step. It should be noted that there are various types of mood disorders, in which different symptoms are more prominent. Several medications and therapies have been proven to be highly effective, and will help most people with depression in a matter or weeks.


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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi David. Welcome to the Hubpages Community. I notice that you and I have a similar career path-I'm a psychiatric nurse.

      Very useful information offered here--how to discern between an 'ordinary' saddness and depression. It is often difficult for people to be able to know the difference. Posting some of the s/sx's is very helpful.