Everyone experiences being sad and having down days. But not everyone is depressed. Depression is a mental illness and being sad or feeling sadness isn’t the only symptom.
Sadness is a normal human emotion and is normally triggered by an event such as a death of a loved one or loss of job/income. Sadness fades away once you have got over the situation. We are normally sad about “something”, so once that “something” has gone we feel better.
Depression is a mental condition which can affect our emotions and behaviours in abnormal ways. Being depressed normally means you are sad about everything and normally there is nothing that has triggered it.
This is why people always ask:
“But you have nothing to be depressed about”
The thing with depression is it isn’t environmental and your life may seem amazing on paper but you still suffer from depression. It is why celebrities also suffer. It has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have and all to do with your brain chemicals.
When you are suffering from depression sadness isn’t the only symptom you experience. Depression also gets rid of our energy, motivation, and ability to experience joy, pleasure, excitement, anticipation, satisfaction, connection, and meaning. We also tend to experience mood swings and may get angry or irritated easier.
Those who are depressed get told that they should “snap out of it” or that it is “all in their head”. We are made to feel weak or a failure when telling other people about our symptoms, especially those who don’t suffer from mental illness.
To be diagnosed with depression you have to be experiencing at least 5 out of the 9 symptoms for 2 weeks. These symptoms being:
- A depressed or irritable mood most of the time.
- A loss or decrease of pleasure or interest in most activities, including ones that had been interesting or pleasurable previously.
- Significant changes in weight or appetite.
- Disturbances in falling asleep or sleeping too much.
- Feeling slowed down in your movements or restless most days.
- Feeling tired, sluggish, and having low energy most days.
- Having feelings of worthless or excessive guilt on most days.
- Experiencing problems with thinking, focus, concentration, creativity and the ability to make decisions most days.
- Having thoughts of dying or suicide.
When you are feeling sad you try to do activities that you know will cheer you up. If sadness is all you are feeling watching your favourite TV show will make you feel better. However, if you are depressed you may no longer feel the happiness you used to even when you are watching your favourite TV show.
Like I mentioned before as well if there is a logical reason for your sadness then you are probably not depressed. For example, if you have just been broken up with and it was a long-term relationship then you are likely to experience sadness for a few days or weeks. However, if you are feeling sad and you can’t work out why or seem not to have a reason you may be depressed.
You can’t necessarily grow out of depression but you manage it with age. Once you realise what triggers you or what to do when you are having a tough day it is easier to live with.
Make sure you understand the difference and aren’t telling people you’re depressed when you may just be sad.
Gracie Victoria Hemphill x