We have previously discussed in the “How Likely Am I To be Depressed?” (link) article that depression is a medical condition that anyone from any social background, age group, ethnicity, and gender could experience. But there is another popular public opinion that strengthens the idea that depression only affects a limited category of people. Some people think that depression is the same as the feeling of sadness.
It is not unusual when someone states, “It must be impossible for you to be feeling depressed, you are probably just sad”. Or the opposite of the previous statement, “Your sadness is not normal, it must be depression!”. Have you ever heard these sentences before in a public conversation, KALMers? This article will discuss the difference between clinical depression with day-to-day sadness.
Clinical Depression vs Sadness
An anonymous person once said, “You think of a day where you’re really, really sad. Times that by 20. And that’s what depression is. It’s really, really horrifying.“ The death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, or the presence of critical illness are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. But being sad is not the same as having clinical depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and clinical depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. However, they are also different in important ways:
Unlike sadness, which usually has clear triggers, depression can develop without a specific cause. Sadness is usually triggered by explicit and specific factors that cause it, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a romantic relationship. But in depression, someone can feel sad that they become depressed for no specific reason.
When a person is clinically depressed, their mood and interest may be consistently low for most of 2 weeks or more. Feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are also common.
But not with general sadness. In sadness or grief, painful feelings will usually come in waves/ups and downs and are often still accompanied by positive feelings/memories. Our self-esteem is usually still maintained as well.
3. Thoughts of Death
In many cases of depression, thoughts of death often arise due to feeling worthless, undeserving of living, or being unable to cope with the pain of depression. While during grief, thoughts of death may surface as the result of a desire to remain with the person who has died.
4. Other Issues That May Accompany Depression
In clinical depression, the mood change might be accompanied by signs and symptoms of somatic such as changes in appetite, lack of energy, sleep disturbance, and general aches and pains and also cognitive features such as poor concentration.
Based on these differences, it could be understood that clinical depression and sadness are essentially two different things. KALMers should not underestimate someone else’s subjective and personal experiences by undermining their feeling of sadness. Clinical depression is a common and serious medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Depressed mood and loss of interest in activities could be some signs of depression that warrant professional help.
Likewise, we should not so easily play the diagnostic game and judge ourselves or others as being depressed. It is only a diagnosis that a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or a psychologist could make. A recommendation to our friends who might be showing symptoms of depression to meet a psychologist would be helpful, but an inconsiderate comment to them could be hurtful. Hence, it is better to refer yourself or your close relative to a professional.
If KALMers would like to know more regarding depression, you can access KALM’s content on KALM’s social media platforms (Instagram: @get.kalm atau Twitter: @get_kalm). You can also read other articles about depression here or via KALM Apps. In KALM Apps you can access counseling with a professional counselor (download here).
Written by: Jessica Delphina
Edited by: Rachma Fitria & Lukas Limanjaya
Causes of depression. Black Dog Institute. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/depression/causes/.
Depression. World Health Organization. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression.
Hicklin, T. (2020). Factors that affect depression risk. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/factors-affect-depression-risk.
Legg, T. (2017). Depression Risks: Medical, Social, and Substance Factors. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/risk-factors.Torres, F. (2020). What Is Depression?. American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.