Sadness vs Depression


Thousand people, thousand perspectives. Mine is just one of them. Please feel free to think over and introspect.

The idea that depression/fear/anxiety develop in a few days or over a few months is not valid. It occurs over a period. You do not suddenly realize something is going out of track. You realize that quite before it hits you real hard.

For any human being, whether a public figure or a layman, it is difficult to use the words – I am going through suicidal tendencies, I need serious help, or I am not doing okay. I might need to see a therapist. One shivers not just one day, one moment but over several years to put this forward. Sadness and depression are not synonyms if you try to understand the root cause for each of these two terms. 

Sadness comes in and goes away; depression develops. Here lies the big difference. And just like depression develops over some time, “healing”, is an equally long process. Sadness could be very temporary. You could be upset for a few days or weeks due to an emotionally upsetting situation. You may be experiencing mood swings when ill or just in general. Often the ever-changing environment around you and the uncertainty could also bother deeply. But a temporary sadness cannot be mistaken to be a sign of depression.

Depression, on the other hand, can feel heavy for months and years. It could even go unnoticed and undiagnosed. A lot of people have accepted their condition and have learnt to live with it. Often self-diagnosis does bigger damage than a clinical assessment. 

Depression is a serious mental health concern that can affect one’s thoughts, behavior and feelings. Fortunately, there are expert mental health professionals who can treat it. 

Its symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Facing difficulty focusing or concentrating on things
  • Low levels of energy or increased fatigue.
  • Spending time doing aimless activities.
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Regular thoughts of death or suicide to end the suffering – mental, physical, or emotional

Depression has no age or gender. It can happen to anybody. It is often assumed that introverts are more prone to depression compared to extroverts. Extroverts, as well, do not find it easy to put their stories of depression forward. It is not necessary that someone who is extremely depressed will be seen sad; often it is not evident in the behavior. One can live with depression for years. It gets deeper and worse if not dealt by a trained mental health professional. A lot of taboo is attached to mental health. There is a general difference between a counselor, clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist. A lot of people believe that they need to see a psychiatrist for treating depression. Most of the individuals quit the idea to seek help at the initial step. You may not necessarily go to a psychiatrist; you may plan a visit to a counselor or clinical psychologist. They do not prescribe medicines and can help you filter out the possibilities and plan the way forward. Only if need be, they may further refer you to a psychiatrist. 

How you can help if someone is depressed:

A depressed person might not be willing to open-up quick with the issues or hold up a transparent conversation. But if you feel, just being around is all you can do at that moment, then be. Do not leave. It is not always words, trust me, sometimes the mere presence of being around someone does it all.

Compassion has innumerable ways to reach a person. It is helpful if you stay around the person with a less judgemental approach. Do not feel forced to fix it for them or to pull them out of it. Remember, you are there to help when needed, not to treat the illness.  

Your thoughts, your remarks, your behaviour, your speech, your actions – these have never been able to make the other one feel comfortable. Let us be more loving (in the real sense), not just in the delivery of words. Let us learn to “accept people and understand what they might have gone through, to be wherever they are today. This is not the only way but surely one of the most effective ways in which one can indirectly/directly heal someone, the ones who are with us NOW.


Sonam is a qualified civil engineer and also holds a diploma certificate in counseling psychology. She enjoys writing on different mental health concerns. She is born and brought up in Assam, and is currently working in Delhi. She has worked for several industries with varied backgrounds and interests ranging from entertainment zones like Indian Idol to MNCs like Amazon. Her expertise lies in working with young children and contribute to their positive mental health.

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