Is it Sadness or Depression?

young woman depressed with his mother comforting on her
Sadness is a normal human emotion that many can attest to having experienced at some point in their lives. Sadness can come from a number of different circumstances that are normal in humans. Some of these events include heartbreak, failing an exam, not getting your dream job, losing a loved one, divorce, and financial issues. Having an argument with a loved one or other disappointments can negatively affect mood and trigger sadness. Sadness most often associated with a trigger. It is a healthy part of the emotional process. There is a difference between health sadness and depression. Normal sadness passes with some crying or talking to friends or loved ones. Lingering and unresolved sadness is a symptom of depression (Poole, 2017).

Depression is a very common mental health disorder that can significantly affect an individual’s life. Sadness that lasts longer than two weeks is a symptom of depression. Other symptoms of depression include Sad, anxious, or empty mood, irritability, a feeling of hopelessness or pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, decreased energy or fatigue, slow-talking or moving, concentration problem, remembering, or making decisions, sleeping problems, early morning awakening, or oversleeping, appetite and/or weight changes, death or suicide thoughts, or suicide attempts, pain or digestive problems with no physical cause Depression can be debilitating and life-changing to an individual. Not everyone with depression will have all the above symptoms. Some symptoms will have a few while others may have more. The presenting symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the individual’s illness (NIH, 2019).

Tips to differentiate between the two:

  • Sadness is a normal human emotion
  • Sadness has causative factors while depression may not.
  • Sadness can be resolved and does not require treatment for a health care professional.
  • Depression is a psychiatric disorder
  • Depression affects an individual’s physical and mental health, behaviors, thinking, relationship, etc.
  • Depression requires treatment by a health care Practitioner.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIH). 2019. Depression. Retrieved from
Poole, D. 2017. Difference between sadness and depression. Retrieved from

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