Distinguishing sadness from depression (part 2)


Depression on the other hand is a serious mental disorder that affects our way of thinking, our behaviours and our attitudes to a great degree. It is characterized by extreme sadness, guilt, the loss of pleasure/interests, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite and the thoughts of deaths.

As discussed earlier, sadness is a normal response to certain life events and everyone experiences the blues sometimes but when the feeling persists longer than necessary then you may be depressed.

Our individual vulnerability to sadness varies. You must check if you have other related symptoms before concluding whether or not you have depression. How do you tell if sadness has overstayed it welcome?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-V) diagnostic criteria, a person suffering from depression must exhibit at least five of these symptoms for two or more weeks. 

  • Poor mood
  • Loss of pleasure/interest in activities
  • Increase or decrease in body weight
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Fatigue
  • The feeling of guilty and worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

 The physiological changes in our body during depression is severe compared to that of sadness. It may lead to severe conditions such as congestive heart failure, panic attacks, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

 Differences between sadness and depression

  • Sadness is a natural emotion whiles depression is a pathology (mental disorder)
  • Sadness is due to specific events that impacts our lives whiles depression is general.
  • Sadness resolves with time whiles depression requires treatment /management.
  • Sadness takes a short time whiles depression last longer
  • Sadness is free from hurt whiles depression presents with suicide thoughts and self harm

 Sadness may be subjective but depression requires diagnosis and treatment. Recurrent episodes of depression may lead severe impairments. Be sure to consult a physician if you present with five of the above symptoms for at least two weeks.