Four differences between sadness and depression

Sadness and depression have a lot in common, but as opposed to depression, sadness is a normal psychological reaction and is not a mental illness.

Generally, the problem is in the misuse of terms, but we usually know how to distinguish between sadness and depression. Sadness is just one of the multiple symptoms of depression. 

Sadness and depression have a lot in common, but they’re also completely different conditions.

They tend to be confused with one another. Sometimes this can cause misinterpretations or generate misunderstandings.

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Here we will learn how to use and understand the two terms correctly.

  1. Depression is a psychological discorder

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The difference between sadness and depression is that depression is a psychological disorder, whereas sadness is an emotion caused by a recent situation.

Certainly, depression includes sadness along with multiple symptoms which include apathy, distress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness.

    Read: Things your depression doesn’t want you to know

Sadness is a circumstantial state which sooner or later will end. Depression is a longer-lasting condition that can give way to a chronic state of malaise.

Experts in the field of psychology feel that for a person to be diagnosed with depression, they should have been showing the symptoms for at least 6 months.

2.  Sadness is a passing mental state

As we have already said, sadness is a transitory state, even though it can last longer than expected.




As opposed to depression, sadness is a normal and natural psychological reaction and is not a mental illness. Simply, under difficult circumstances or when someone hurts us, this emotion arises and is unavoidable.

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Because of all this, we should not be extremely worried about sadness. It is a normal feeling when we lose someone close to us, when we break up with a partner, or when we have to leave our home.

Sadness indicates that something important to us has ended or changed, but with time, sadness ends.

3. Apathy and depression

Apathy is a lack of energy and the lack of will to do anything. This affects people with depression who see themselves incapable of completing daily responsibilities.

For example, a person with depression cannot make it to work because of being incapable of getting out of bed in the morning.

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This does not occur when we are sad. Even with sadness hanging over our heads, we are able to carry out our tasks and our daily responsibilities, although it may be with less enthusiasm and cheer.

Nevertheless, our work and obligations are not affected.

4. If sadness goes on too long…

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It’s true that one thing can lead to another. If we are sad for a long period of time, it could result in depression.

A sad person cries, has low self-esteem, feels useless, and hopeless. The world has turned gray. If these feelings persist, the result can be deep depression.

That is why psychologists prefer to wait for a period of time before they confirm a diagnosis of depression. It’s normal to be sad for a day, two days, or even a week. However, to feel sad for two months is not a good situation for a person.

As we can see, the differences between sadness and depression are notable, even though one can be a symptom of the other.

Of course we should take into account that while sadness does not need treatment nor therapy, depression should be treated in an effective way. 

With sadness, the support of the family and a change of environment can be sufficient. With depression, the situation functions in a different way.

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Sadness differs a lot from depression. Perhaps the confusion arrises from words such as “depressing” and also from the widespread use of the word “depression.”

In this case, the word depressed has nothing to do with depression. The incorrect use of terms can make us doubt what the actual meaning is.

Have you ever confused depression with sadness?