It isn’t always easy to differentiate between sadness and depression, but there are significant differences between the two, and it’s important to understand them. Otherwise, you risk overreacting to what might just be a couple of bad days … or failing to take action when there is a true cause for concern.
Sadness is a common human emotion. We’ve all dealt with moments of sadness, and we’ll eventually experience them again. It’s a part of life. These feelings are typically short-lived and triggered by a difficult event or challenging circumstance.
Depression is a serious medical condition that impacts the lives of approximately 350 million people globally. The severe toll it takes on peoples’ lives is often underappreciated because of its prevalence. People don’t easily bounce back from depression. It saturates their lives and tends to stick around.
The good news is that there are ways your body tells you that you’re dealing with depression versus feeling a little down in the dumps. When you learn to recognize the signs, you empower yourself to be your very own HealthHero™ and seek help when you need it.
You feel sad most of the time.
When you’re suffering with depression, you experience lingering sadness that usually intensifies over time. These emotions will likely become overwhelming and begin to affect your appetite, energy, and ability to get a good night’s sleep.
You feel hopeless.
It’s one thing to feel down about a specific event (losing a job, losing a loved one, going through a divorce, etc.), but when everything in your life feels pointless, depression is likely to blame.
Life is no longer enjoyable.
You can feel sad and still find enjoyment in your daily life. You might be upset that you didn’t get a raise, but still enjoy an afternoon on the beach with your family. You can distract yourself from your sadness with everyday activities such as reading, exercising, or meditating. When facing depression, not even your favorite hobbies will snap you out of your funk.
Your relationships suffer.
Having a supportive tribe is crucial to your well-being. These are the people who love and support you through good times and bad. When you’re depressed, you’re likely to withdraw from those around you … even your own tribe of loyal supporters. If you find yourself neglecting even your most valued relationships, or pushing away those closest to you, this is a red flag.
You’re having suicidal thoughts.
I am very passionate about this topic, and it’s a tough one to address. Many people suffering with depression never seek treatment because the illness overwhelms them with feelings of hopelessness, convincing them that relief is unattainable. When you’re depressed, these intense emotions can become so unbearable that you might contemplate hurting yourself or ending your life to escape the torment. If you find yourself experiencing suicidal thoughts, I urge you to seek help immediately. You can overcome your depression.
The world we live in can be a stressful place, and it’s perfectly normal to feel the emotional effects. When you listen to your body and make your health a top priority, you’ll be prepared to recognize the symptoms of depression and take the necessary steps toward a healthier life.
My prescriptions for recognizing depression:
- Look out for any changes in your appetite, energy levels, and sleep patterns. These are common indicators of a potential problem.
- Notice any changes in your ability to think clearly and remember things.
- Lean on your tribe for support. If you suspect that you’re dealing with depression, talk to those closest to you. Ask their advice. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to lean on them! That’s what your tribe is all about.
- Take any thoughts of suicide or self-harm seriously. If you or a loved one experience these thoughts, immediately seek professional help. You are not defined by your depression, and you can overcome it.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste. – Dr. Nandi