Menu Close

Contact us now!

Come Together to Fight Addiction

What Is the Difference Between Depression and Being Sad?

a woman sits on the edge of a bed struggling with understanding depression vs sadness

​​People struggle with depression across the United States and here in New Hampshire. There are many types of depression with varying symptoms. Because depression affects every aspect of a person’s life, everyone’s depression is unique. For some, it may be hard to tell the difference between sadness and depression. A qualified therapist and depression treatment program is the safest, most effective way to diagnose, treat, and manage depression and other mental health conditions.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, know you are not alone. Our Hudson, New Hampshire clinic provides flexible dual diagnosis treatment for mental health and addiction clients across New Hampshire. Call us now at 781.412.1488 to learn more about the differences between depression vs. sadness at A Better State.

What Is Depression?

Depression is an increasingly common mood disorder characterized by a prolonged depressed mood. A person may experience depression at any time in their life. For many, depression can debilitate and make it especially difficult to ask for help. Types of depression include:

  • Psychotic depression – Depression accompanied by psychosis.
  • Postpartum depression – Depression in the weeks and months after childbirth when hormones fluctuate.
  • Seasonal affective disorder – Sometimes called SAD, this seasonal depression occurs when days are shorter during winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Lower levels of Vitamin D may be a factor in seasonal depression.
  • Bipolar disorder – A mood disorder that oscillates between manic and depressive episodes.
  • Dysthymic disorder – A persistent depressive disorder.

Depression is always best diagnosed by a health professional. Medical professionals may refer to depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain, including low levels of the chemical serotonin, which carries messages from the brain to the body to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and help the body heal. Brain chemistry, however, is only one factor in overall mental health. Belief systems, thought patterns, diet, exercise, stress, and unprocessed trauma all contribute to mental health and the risk of depression.

Understanding the Differences Between Sadness vs. Depression

It’s crucial to understand the differences between depression vs. sadness. While it can be confusing to know if someone is struggling with sadness or depression, they are two distinct experiences. Sadness is an emotion often tied to direct experience or memory. Often those struggling with unprocessed trauma will experience sadness without explanation. This does not always mean they also suffer from depression.

People with depression often describe their experience as “numb” or “lacking feelings” rather than sadness. Most times, sadness can be a very active emotion, allowing people to express their feelings, grieve, and eventually move through the emotion. Like all emotions, sadness is fleeting. Most times, depression is not fleeting and does not allow people to process their emotions and move on. Common signs of depression include:

  • A depressed mood impedes daily life
  •  Self-isolation
  • A lack of self-care
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Self-harm
  • Intense guilt and shame
  • Feeling hopeless
  • A lack of motivation
  • The inability to move forward with tasks, conversations, or ask for help

Depression can prevent many people from living their lives. Often, a depressed mood can cause someone to withdraw from life. Someone who is depressed may struggle to experience, express, and process emotions. This can make depression feel incredibly isolating. Sadness, however, is a normal part of life, often triggered by a sad thought, memory, or experience. Many things may trigger depression, and for those living with a depressive disorder, there may be specific triggers or cycles to their depression.

Learn More About the Difference Between Depression and Being Sad at A Better State

If you’re unsure if you or a loved one is struggling with depression or sadness, it’s time to call a professional The team at A Better State is here to help you and your loved ones thrive. Our outpatient programs provide holistic treatment options for clients across New Hampshire.

We have the program for you whether you’re looking for daytime or evening intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs). With a range of evidence-based and alternative therapies, our trauma-informed approach to depression treatment can make a difference in your life. Contact us now at 781.412.1488 to better understand the differences between depression vs. sadness.