Regular Sadness vs. Depression
It’s natural to feel sad, down, or discouraged at times. We all feel these human emotions, they’re reactions to the hassles and hurdles of life.
We may feel sad over an argument with a friend, a breakup, or a best friend moving out of town. We might be disappointed about doing poorly on a test or discouraged if our team can’t break its losing streak. The death of someone close can lead to a specific kind of sadness — grief.
Most of the time, people manage to deal with these feelings and get past them with a little time and care.
Depression is more than occasionally feeling blue, sad, or down in the dumps, though. Depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair, or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.
Signs of Depression
Here are some of the things people notice with depression:
- Negative feelings and mood. People with depression might feel unusually sad, discouraged, or defeated. They may feel hopeless, helpless, or alone. Some people feel guilty, unworthy, rejected, or unloved. Some people with depression feel, angry, easily annoyed, bitter, or alienated.
Any or all of these negative emotions can be part of a depressed mood if they go on for weeks or more.
- Negative thinking. People with depression get stuck in negative thinking. This can make people focus on problems and faults. It can make things seem bleaker than they really are. Negative thinking can make a person believe things will never get better, that problems are too big to solve, that nothing can fix the situation, or that nothing matters.
Negative thinking can be self-critical, too. People may believe they are worthless and unlovable — even though that’s not true. That can lead people with depression to think about harming themselves or about ending their own life. Negative thinking can block our ability to see solutions or realize that a problem is actually temporary.
- Low energy and motivation. People with depression may feel tired, drained, or exhausted. They might move more slowly or take longer to do things. It can feel as if everything requires more effort. People who feel this way might have trouble motivating themselves to do or care about anything.
- Poor concentration. Depression can make it hard to concentrate and focus. It might be hard to do schoolwork, pay attention in class, remember lessons, or stay focused on what others say.
- Physical problems. Some people with depression have an upset stomach or loss of appetite. Some might gain or lose weight. People might notice headaches and sleeping problems when they’re depressed.
- Social withdrawing. People with depression may pull away from friends and family or from activities they once enjoyed. This usually makes them feel more lonely and isolated — and can make negative thinking worse.