Depression vs. Sadness: When to Seek Help

Everyone has experienced sadness at some point in their lives. For a child, something as simple as not getting that special toy for Christmas can cause sadness. For teens, finding out the person whose name they’ve spent hours writing on their notebook is now dating their best friend can trigger a sadness they think will never go away.

Depression vs. Sadness: When to Seek Help

But it does. As adults, the triggers for sadness change and become more substantial; the death of a friend or family member, the loss of a job or the end of a marriage. Although there are varying degrees of sadness as people grow and mature, the one thing that remains the same is that it always goes away.

But what happens when the feelings of sadness stay for days, weeks, months, or even years? This could be a sign of depression. According to The Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness  and loss of interest. Unlike sadness, depression is not something a person can just get over. Depression can impact every aspect of a person’s life, from personal relationships to professional performance and all aspects in between.

So how does a person know when they have passed the threshold of sadness and are entering the realm of depression? Some symptoms of depression can include, but are not limited to:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of death

Depression is scary for both the person experiencing it and those who care about them. The good news is that there are ways to cope with and treat depression. Counseling, both individual and family, is an excellent resource to help manage depression. Engaging with a counselor who has experience with depression can help a person discover the positive aspects of life that they buried under the cloud of depression. The American Psychological Association stresses that depression is an illness that requires professional treatment such as counseling. It is important to remember that help is available and there is a way out of the grips of depression.

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