How do I know if I'm just feeling sad, or if I really have depression?

21 Answers
Last Updated: 06/18/2019 at 4:54pm
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Jamie Sclafani , LMSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I have an holistic approach to therapy. There is definitely not a "one size fits all" solution. Each person is unique, as is their situation.

Top Rated Answers
goldenLight64
March 3rd, 2015 11:28am
Sadness is not constant. Depression is something that takes hold and you cannot see light. Sadness is caused by a loss or situation, but there is light and it does not last for extended periods of time. You can come out of it, even for a short while. Depression is all encompassing.
Rikke
May 1st, 2015 6:54am
Not every bout of sadness is caused by depression, and realizing that is good! Life comes with good days and bad days, and that's just what it is. However, if you have felt sad and/or been experiencing other symptoms of depression (such as lack of motivation to do whings/change in weight or appetite/change in sleeping patterns) and this has lasted more than just a few weeks, go see your doctor. Explain what's going on. Even if it turns out NOT to be depression, your doctor might be able to help you relieve those symptoms. Seeking help when you feel like you need it is never wrong!
KaylaWright1125
May 8th, 2015 3:12pm
It depends, do you have thoughts of self harm or suicide? Do you feel sad all the time like its a normal thing, how long does your sadness last. There are online depression tests you can take to see.
Anonymous
September 12th, 2016 3:30pm
I guess the chemicals in my bipolar brain would tell me so. For depression, it would get serious to the point me thinking about suicide while sadness is to a lesser degree.
ringettegurl
March 3rd, 2015 1:51pm
Depression is generally considered to be a period of sadness that does not let up and lasts for at least 2 weeks. I have not had that happen, because I have amazing friends that can make me laugh and be happy on a daily basis, but I knew, when the thoughts turned to dark topics such as suicide, and what the world would do without me. I addressed it and wrote it out, to be official. Also, if certain assemblies, and/or topics like things people didn't know about (you or someone else) seem to be a real sadness trigger, such as I figured out for myself. If you think what you are feeling is more than just sadness over, say, a broken toy you'd had as a child, you should assess the situation to see what triggered it, and how it makes you feel.
therapinto
April 22nd, 2015 9:00am
Sadness comes once in a while, but when you tend to be sad all of the time with symptoms like loss of interests in everything, inability to sleep, weight loss without dieting, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal feelings, it means that you may have depression and should consider meeting a therapist.
heavenlyHope52
May 10th, 2015 11:36pm
Everyone feels sadness but depression is a prolonged bleakness that external factors cannot change.
littlewanderer1215
September 19th, 2016 4:42am
Depression is characterized by a long period of grief, sadness, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, and even numbness. Generally, depression is an ongoing thing. Sadness passes in a week or less.
Anonymous
October 10th, 2017 6:44pm
There are different signs of depression such as eating disorders, mood swings, sleeping problems, lost interest in activities that used to be interesting, frequently crying, anger irritability, withdrawal from friends and family
ChoiTaeyang
June 18th, 2018 7:18am
Sadness is short term, it can last from a few minutes to a couple of days. Depression is a lot more serious. It is a long term issue lasting from months to years. It also includes symptoms like feeling unmotivated, no care for hygiene -staying in the same clothes for days and or not showering-, sleeping too much or lack thereof, and others.
Anonymous
June 14th, 2015 3:09pm
I would say that if you are feeling down for a short period of time you are just sad, and if you are feeling down regulary and for long periods of time, I would say that you are depressed and it would be wise to seek professional advice.
Gemma8483
June 18th, 2015 3:10pm
If your sadness has become a long term state of mind that is affecting your every day life then it might be worth going to a doctor. The only way to know for sure is to have a diagnosis from your doctor.
Kaylanc31
September 21st, 2015 3:48am
Sad is a temporary feeling that you know will go away. Depression is being afraid that you will never feel happy again. You feel hopeless and helpless.
Anonymous
November 23rd, 2015 7:57pm
Sadness can be the short term result of an experience you have had, if this sadness keeps clinging to you and you are feeling fatigue, feel like you aren't worth anything or gain or lose weight the sadness probably transformed to depression.
Bamachick
December 7th, 2015 3:34am
Being sad and crying are normal things. We usually get a good cry out and then we feel better after a good nights' sleep. Depression will tend to present itself as a person withdrawing away from their friends and families. They don't attend this same places/events that they once wouldn't miss for anything. They're tired all the time and just want to sleep. They let things go around the house, with their relations and at work. Depression is a very scary issue, but always keep in mind that this too shall pass. The sun will shine brighter tomorrow!!!
Anonymous
December 7th, 2015 9:49am
You are depressed when you are really sad for a longer period of time. Everyone is sad sometimes but once you are really low for a long time and almost every day there might be something else going on other than just having a bad day.
Reforged
March 15th, 2016 5:17pm
Sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish the two at first. To feel sad is common, and perfectly okay To feel depressed is as well, however, it tends to manifest in different ways. One major aspect of depression is that it tends to persist over a longer period of time. It begins to seep into every aspect of our lives. When one is sad, there is typically a particular reason. However, depression makes us feel that sadness more generally. Depression also tends to lead to other stronger negative emotions. For some, depression leads to anxiety. For others, irritability. It can devalue your sense of self-worth, and make you lose interest in things you love to do. The forms that depression take vary from person to person. However, I believe the main difference between depression and sadness is the fact that depression leaks into different aspects of our lives and amplifies negative emotions far more.
Ellamayboxall
June 13th, 2016 8:15pm
Sadness and depression are two different things. Depression is the feeling of numbness and nothingness.
Anonymous
June 20th, 2016 11:18pm
Depression can only be diagnosed exactly by a psychiatrist.If you have been having feelings of sadness,worthlessness, suicidal thoughts,for a long period of time,you could be suffering from depression.
Mocha3800
October 10th, 2016 5:32pm
Being sad every once is awhile is allowed however having depression is a diagnosis from a doctor. Once you have that diagnosis you can tell the difference from being sad and depressed . Sad is where you want to cry and your upset about something .. depression is like weight of saddness on your chest you feel fatigued you might feel like a headache, sensitive to the light. Those sorts of things.
wonderfulSunshine91
June 18th, 2019 4:54pm
Sadness is a natural emotion that everyone feels at some point in their lives. Feeling sad is a reaction to situations that cause emotional upset. There are different degrees of sadness however sadness is temporary. Depression is a mental illness and affects all aspects of our lives, making everything less enjoyable, less interesting, less important and less worthwhile. It saps energy, motivation, and ability to experience joy and pleasure. You’re more impatient, quicker to get frustrated and quicker to break down. However, if you are feeling depressed, staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others.