Are You Sad or Depressed? How to Tell the Difference

While depression is a term often lightly used to describe a bad mood, it is far from it. Wellness coach and founder of Enso Wellness, Arouba Kabir, shares how to tell the difference between sadness and depression...and how to handle both.  

A heavy dark gloomy cloud that follows everywhere you go or just a sheer lack of will to even get out of bed, depression is often described as such by people who carry its burden. While feeling sad is not an emotion that can be dismissed either depression is a disorder that needs to be treated carefully. Wellness coach and founder of Enso Wellness, Arouba Kabir suggests how to tell the difference:

Are You Sad or Depressed? How to Tell the Difference

What exactly is depression?

"Depression isn’t a temporary inconvenience, it’s rather a disorder which if not treated can have life-altering permanent effects. Thus making the differentiation between grief and depression all the more important."

"Grief is usually a distinct or overwhelming sadness, one that typically stems from a significant feeling of loss. This can result from the death of a loved one, the occurrence of a major ailment or injury, the loss of a job or the ending of an important personal relationship. However, grief resolves as a person overcomes the loss and accepts it. Whereas, when this overwhelming feeling isn’t addressed, it can lead to a chronic feeling and can make you stagnant, sometimes even lasting a lifetime."

What are some signs of depression?

"A person suffering from depression is usually surrounded by a feeling of worthlessness and powerlessness. They are often caught in mind traps of exaggerated guilt wherein they might be blaming themselves for a certain event and spiralling further due to associated negative overthinking and negative self-talk which makes the case worse."

"These feelings sometimes are often expressed as episodes of agitation and breakdowns which can harm the person’s life and its various aspects. The mental exhaustion associated with fighting a mental ailment often leads to a feeling of exaggerated fatigue wherein you give up hope and feel as if no one understands you. These feelings might sometimes push a person towards isolation which worsens their mental stability and removes any way for them to fight it and win over it."

How can we overcome depression?

"Whatever the cause may be, overcoming depression starts with identifying it, acknowledging it and making a conscious decision to do something about it. Indulging in regular physical activity helps relieve the stress and increase the release of happy hormones and at the same time remove feelings of worthlessness. Visualizing happy memories is a beautiful way to cheer yourself up and remind yourself of the good times you have had and the people who surround you and love you for who you are. Finding something to look forward to is also a wonderful way of being of service to someone, brightening their day and yours alike."

"Often these self measures may not provide any relief, one must seek professional help in such situations, it’s important to realize that opening up to a therapist and telling them exactly how you feel is very important for therapy to work."

Types of depression

The type of depression stems from the root cause. And, everyone carries their own burden of depression in their own way. However, broadly, here are some of the major types of this disorder:

Major Depression

"Individuals who suffer from major depression tend to experience what one might call as an “all-consuming darkness”. They lose interest in all activities even the ones they previously enjoyed and like to corner themselves out."

Persistent Depressive Disorder

"This form of depression usually exhibits symptoms which are persistent or ongoing, often lasting for at least 2 years. Although the symptoms seem to linger, they don’t reach the intensity of major depression."

Bipolar Disorder

"Commonly referred to as the “manic depressive syndrome”, it is associated with mood and behavioural changes that may be described as polar opposites, thus the name. One usually displays a period of enthusiasm followed by episodes of extreme sadness."

Seasonal Affective Disorder

"It is characterized by changes in an individual’s mood according to the seasonal changes. The symptoms are usually more prevalent during the fall and winters. It is usually attributed to the variability in a person’s hormones and chemical messengers like serotonin etc."

Post Partum Depression

"This form of mood disorder usually affects one in seven mother’s post-childbirth. It is characterized by a feeling of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion, making it difficult for them to tend to daily activities for themselves of their families."