Often, people who are experiencing feelings of sadness say they are depressed, but depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is very different from sadness.
According to WHO (The World Health Organization), clinical depression is a serious mental health condition that affects at least 350 million people, or about three percent of the world’s population.
Although depression tends to affect women more than men, it doesn’t discriminate, and can affect people of any gender or age.
The Difference: Why it Matters
It may seem that the difference doesn’t really matter, but it’s important to know the difference between depression and sadness; otherwise, depression goes undiagnosed and people may not receive treatment that can help them feel better.
Sadness is a normal emotion that most people experience from time to time. Sad feelings are often triggered by a specific event such as death of a loved one, breakup of a relationship, chronic illness, loss of a cherished pet, a career change, move to a new city, or even a sad book or movie.
Sadness is a deep emotion which helps us think about life, feel into ourselves and often helps us mature, become a more conscious and compassionate human being. Feelings of sadness are difficult, but they diminish as time passes. Sadness, when overcome, often leaves us with a renewed sense of aliveness and energy, a more positive outlook on life and an increased sense of gratitude for the preciousness of life.
Depression, on the other hand, lingers, often for weeks or months. Depression may be present even when people are perfectly satisfied with the way life is going and feel they “should” be happy.
Depressive disorder impacts our lives more significantly than normal sadness. It affects the ways we think, act and feel, and the way we view ourselves and others.