“Am I just feeling sad or am I having depression?”

As people are more aware and willing to speak up, depression has become a common topic in the community. There are often questions about depression and sadness, are they the same or different? It is not uncommon to find people who think they are sad, but they are actually struggling with depression and people who think that they are depressed when they are responding to an event with sadness. The main reason people find it challenging to distinguish between the two is probably because the primary symptom of depression is pervasive sadness. However, despite the “similarities,” there is a considerable difference between the two states of being.

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Difference between Sadness and Depression

Sadness is an emotion which is completely normal. Every person experiences sadness from time to time. Different situations can lead to sadness. For example, it can result from a break-up, a failed exam, the loss of a loved ones; events that are upsetting, disappointing.

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On the other hand, depression is a diagnosed mental condition which may or may not warrant medication by the psychiatrists. Depression can affect our thinking, emotions, and behaviors. When a person is depressed, one may feels sad and despair about many aspects in their lives.

With depression, it seems to colour many aspects of our existence. Lives get less enjoyable, fascinating, loveable, and worthwhile. The condition saps people’s energy and motivation and ability to be happy. Depression lowers our threshold, making our lives very uncomfortable. It is common for people to become irritated quicker, and it takes longer before one can bounce back.

How Depression Feels

A dark hole. Sometimes it feels like this dark hole has arms that wraps around you and refuses to let you go no matter how much you are screaming inside you.

For many, depression makes one feel like life is worthless. When people suffer from depression, they find it challenging to derive happiness from things that used to be pleasurable before. Depression also makes it hard for people to concentrate. This usually leads to the decision-making process, reading, and watching television to appear tasking. Additionally, people suffering from depression typically feel like self-esteem is often absent. Such people tend to view themselves as worthless, leading to them dwelling on adverse events.

Depression leads to irregular sleeping patterns; most people find it challenging to sleep. It is not easy for people suffering from depression to have a restful sleep throughout the night. That being said, there are also a small percentage of people suffering from depression to oversleep. Also, energy levels of a depressive person tend to dwindle, which affects the ability of one to operate optimally. Food may appear not to be appetizing and constant body aches, and pains may be present.

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Causes and Risk Factors

A myriad of factors can lead to depression. Although there is no single cause that can be attributed to causing depression, experts recognize the following aspects as possible causes:

According to experts, genetics are a possible cause of depression. It is thought that depression disorder can run in families, though this does not mean that every person will suffer depression if someone else has it in the family.

Significant changes in a person’s life can trigger depression. Some of the life events known to cause depression include divorce and the death of loved ones.

Hormonal changes such as menopause are credited with causing depression.

Alcohol and drug abuse also increases the risk of depression.

There have also been research that depression can occur with the presence of other mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety disorder.

Treatment for Depression

Given that depression usually manifests itself through sadness, one should seek professional help if the sadness persists for more than two weeks. Visiting a medical professional will help them recommend the right treatment levels to manage symptoms. Many have found speaking with a counsellor helpful as they are being treated concurrently by a psychiatrist.



Counselling provides emotional support, identification of deep-seated issues and learning coping methods in the journey of battling with depression.

Remember, you don’t have to go through depression alone. We are here for you.

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Also read about Do I Have Depression: https://oneemptychair.com.sg/do-i-have-depression/

Want to read further on depression? https://www.imh.com.sg/wellness/page.aspx?id=554