What Are the Differences Between Sadness and Depression

What Are the Differences Between Sadness and Depression

We can often confuse feeling sad with being depressed. While both feelings have characteristics in common, they differ on specific issues, which are worth knowing.

Do you want to know the differences between sadness and depression? In this article, we’ll tell you all about them.

Sadness is one step below depression
La tristeza está un escalón abajo de la depresión

While we may use the expression “I am depressed” when we had a horrible day at work, when a terrible storm has gotten our clothes soaked or our team has lost the championship final, these events only translate into being sad or distressed.

Sadness is the natural response to an unfortunate event, a negative situation, a frustration, so it is more “normal” for us to feel sad than depressed.

Feeling devastated after a breakup, an economic problem or the impossibility of meeting a goal is normal, since we’re not robots or machines. However, sadness is far from suffering from a serious pathology such as depression.

The sad feeling we have disappears completely as time passes or if we find a solution to the problem. It has nothing to do with the gravity or importance of what has unleashed sadness.

We go through a stage of mourning and then realize that life goes on even when a loved one dies, when we move to the other side of the planet or when we get divorced.

See also: Four differences between sadness and depression

We’re not even talking about depression in these cases, but a normal reaction to bad situations. We suffer because we have feelings and because that situation has left a deep imprint within us.




The sadness we feel may perhaps be accompanied by other symptoms such as apathy, insomnia or headaches. But these are all far from the depression.

So what is sadness? For us to be clear, sadness is a natural emotional state, a reaction that relates to a particular episode or situation.

Examples of such situations or episodes include when we’re disappointed, when life leads us to very painful situations or when there are people around us who suffer.

What is depression?

Qué es la depresión
Let us now turn to the characteristics of depression. Let’s start with its medical definition, which states that it is a mental illness and a mood disorder. It is classified in different ways depending on the symptoms presented by the patient.

The time of each depressive episode can vary: from weeks to years. Those who are going through it need professional help.

A psychiatric or psychological consultation is vital so that the person can enjoy life in every way again.

To be diagnosed as depressive, a person must present at least 5 of these symptoms (this list is only a guide and, in any cases, we’ll have to consult with a therapist about it):

  • Feeling irritable most of the time.
  • Feeling sad all day and for no apparent reason.
  • Loss or reduction of pleasure and interest in everyday activities (especially in those that were considered interesting in the past).
  • Changes in weight or appetite.
  • Trouble falling asleep or needing too much sleep.
  • Feeling restless on a daily basis.
  • Slowness in movements. Tiredness and low energy
  • Inability to make decisions. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Problems focusing, concentrating or being creative.

Although these symptoms can also appear when we are sad, the big difference is that when we’re depressed we don’t know the reason why we’re this way or it’s difficult to figure it out.

On the other hand, we experience sadness after specific situations and can see the signs of this.

How to differentiate sadness from depression?

Cómo diferenciar tristeza de depresión
It’s very important to be clear about the characteristics of both feelings, even if they seem similar or if we sometimes can’t distinguish them.

  • If we can establish the cause of the symptoms, then we are sad. By reflecting on the problem and finding a solution, it’s possible for emotions to improve.
  • In the case of depression, we face a chronic and generalized sadness. There’s no clear factor of the origin of this feeling (and we often can’t even find it with therapy).
  • It affects us in all types of ways and has repercussions in the relationships that we have (couple, family, friendships, work, etc.).

Depression makes life less interesting, less pleasant and less exciting. It is synonymous with losing the sense of things and deteriorating vital energy.

It eliminates motivation and pleasure from any activity and turns the person into someone frustrated, nonconformist, impatient and angry.

Visit this article: How to Show Love to Someone Who Suffers Depression

Many people wonder “how do I know if I am depressed?”

Basically, in order to start talking about this pathology, it must have been a long time since the first symptoms arose.

This means that the individual does not immediately realize they have an emotional disorder.

There is a test called the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Scale used by psychologists to determine the status of their patients. The diagnosis is obtained from a series of questions.

Also in therapy, you can opt for a more complete test known as Self-applied Zung Depression Scale that opens up the spectrum a little more. This will allow you to look at deeper topics.

Don’t overlook depression, a disease that affects 5% of the world’s population (mainly women). It can also lead to suicide attempts or become a nightmare for the sufferer and those around them, even if the sufferer has not attempted suicide.