We all go through periods of feeling sad or down. Experiencing these emotions, especially after a difficult event, is a normal part of being human. But sometimes we're not able to snap out of it. Lingering feelings of excessive sadness that interfere with your daily life could be depression.
It's not always easy to understand the difference between normal sadness and depression.
However, it's important to be able to recognize depression so that you can seek help before it becomes unmanageable.
Normal sadness is usually prompted by a difficult, hurtful, or disappointing event or situation. We usually feel sad or upset about something, and when the circumstances change, or we've adjusted to the loss, we're able to feel better. Normal sadness only lasts a few days to a few weeks.
On the other hand, someone experiencing depression may experience one or more of the following:
- Feelings of sadness that do not go away after a few days or weeks
- Slow movements or feeling like your mind is functioning at a slower pace
- Difficulties sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Uninterest in eating or overeating
- Feeling as if you'd rather be alone
- Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
- Feeling hopeless or like your situation will never improve
- Excessive guilt or shame
- Increased anxiety or stress
- Feeling as if you deserve to feel unhappy or experience pain
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of the above, it's important to know that there is help. You don't have to feel this way forever. Although reaching out for help can be difficult or scary, it's an important step to be able to heal from the depression. Speak with your doctor, a mental health specialist, or a trusted friend as soon as possible.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America provides a list of resources which may be helpful. If you're experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health section of our blog.
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