Contrary to what some people believe, depression and sadness are not the same thing. Sadness can come and go and affects your mood, while depression is a lingering cloud that affects your overall ability to function.
Sometimes it can be tricky to distinguish between what is normal for those going through a rough patch of life and actual clinical depression. Read the signs below to determine if your Eeyore-like mood could be something more.
Feeling sad about everything
Sadness is generally related to a specific situation. We are down in the dumps because we lost a job, experienced a breakup, are having financial struggles, etc. But feeling sad about everything in life can be a sign of depression. There may not be a single incident that triggers your blue mood, in fact, it is possible that a depressed person’s life can appear great on paper.
Things are less enjoyable
When the things you used to enjoy doing no longer bring you pleasure or energy, then depression could be a factor. Depression denies our excitement, pleasure, and happiness so everything is less enjoyable than it used to be. When sadness is the factor, the things we enjoy doing can usually brighten our mood, but this is not the case with depression.
You can’t simply snap out of it
If you are experiencing sadness for any amount of time, often you can give yourself a pep talk and engage in an activity that will make you feel better. If you are suffering from depression, simply snapping out of it is not an option. People suffering from depression cannot just choose happiness or change their mindset. They often need a diagnosis and treatment from a professional in order to get help.
You can’t find motivation
A person who is sad may not want to engage in regular activities, but they are able to do so anyway. For example, a sad person may not want to get out of bed and go to work, but they push through their mood and do it anyway. A depressed person who doesn’t want to get out of bed won’t—even when the consequences are high. They aren’t concerned if they will get fired for not showing up and they don’t care about letting their coworkers or family down.
You notice changes in your appetite or weight
Most of us go through periods of weight loss or weight gain, and appetite surges and lows. But people with depression may stop eating altogether or use food to cope with their mood. If you notice significant changes in appetite or weight, it can be a symptom of depression.
Just experiencing one of these symptoms for a short period, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are depressed. People who suffer from depression often experience multiple symptoms over the course of several weeks or months. If how you function day-to-day has changed drastically, that’s a good indicator you could be struggling with more than just sadness.
Depression can have a stigma attached to it, but it shouldn’t. More than 16 million Americans struggle with depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nevertheless, it can still be difficult to recognize depression, especially in men. When you find that your condition is affecting multiple areas of your life — your job, home life, or social life — it’s time to seek professional help.