Depression is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses in the world, affecting almost half a million Malaysians. While it is one of the most common mental illnesses, many are still unclear of the difference between sadness and depression. Have you ever reached out to someone, and told them about the depressive episodes you’ve been experiencing, only to be met with a “I feel sad from time to time too”. That’s why depression can feel so isolating at times, since it can feel like no one could ever understand how you feel.
Depression is defined, as per the American Psychological Association, as a serious mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. In more severe cases it can even affect your ability to function at work and at home. It’s something that people need to pay more attention to and address, as many might confuse it with sadness, laziness, or ‘just being in a funk’. Here are some telling signs that you’re depressed, not just feeling blue:
You Feel Exhausted All The Time
One of the side effects of depression is fatigue. Have you had days where all you wanted to do was sleep? You don’t have the energy to do even the simplest of things like brushing your teeth or eating. And no matter what you do, whether it’s making a to-do list or watching motivational talks online, you can’t seem to snap out of it. No amount of sleep, comfort food, self-care activities or hangouts with friends seem to brighten your spirits.
You’ve Lost Interest In Everything
One of the hallmarks of a depressive episode is when you lose interest in activities that usually give you pleasure. So if you’ve found that your ‘sadness’ has caused you to lose interest and motivation in everything, including school and work, then that’s a sure sign that there’s something going on mentally. If you’re still able to do your hobbies or complete daily tasks, it’s likely that you’re going through normal sadness. But depression is the opposite of that, and it can extend for long periods, which is different from normal sadness.
You Feel Sad For No Reason
Sadness is specific, while depression is vague. Do you find yourself feeling sad for seemingly no reason? It could be hard to pinpoint the root of your sadness, and you’ll likely feel it all the time. While it’s normal to feel sad for a period of time about a specific event, it can be problematic when it persists. If you find your sadness is hard to attribute to a certain cause, it may also be a sign of something more.
Sadness Is Not The Only Problem You’re Experiencing
Depression is much more than feeling down. When you’re in this state, you may find yourself feeling fatigued, mentally exhausted, and unable to keep up with your daily tasks. It’s more than an emotion, and it effects you mentally and physically as well. There’s a good chance that symptoms like anxiety, hopelessness, increased irritability, feelings of guilt, fatigue, appetite changes, and agitation will accompany your blue mood.
You Feel It All Over Your Body
For some people, they might experience unexplainable body pain. While feeling sad can have some physical impact on our body, it most likely points to depression. These aches and pains seem to come from nowhere, and they usually last a long time. Physical depression symptoms can be anything from spontaneous headaches, stomach aches to general discomfort around the body. So if you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, it may be your body’s way of telling you that you’re more than just sad.
Depression Has Long Term Consequences
One major difference between sadness and depression is that sadness has short term effects, while depression has long-term consequences. Sadness is brief and it fades away. You may cancel your plans every now and then but you’ll start to get back to normal in a short time. Your life has not been significantly changed, and you’re back to work and your everyday life. However, depression affects all areas of a person’s life, and it can have lasting impact on everything from work performance to physical health to thought patterns.
It’s important to know the difference between having depression and being sad, and it helps your mental health. The truth is, depression is NOT a choice, and you can’t simply just ‘shake it off’ or ‘get over it’, no matter what other people tell you. And if you feel that your emotions are getting out of hand, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you trust, or a healthcare professional.