Life is full of both high and low moments.

We live for the moments of joy, such as weddings and births. But we dread the low moments, such as death, illness, and heartbreak.

However, it is an undeniable fact that every person will experience sadness and grief in their lifetime. Even the most optimistic individual will, inevitably, encounter periods in their life in which the world seems colored in shades of blue.

For some, this period of sadness seems to drag on for an extended period of time, leaving them to ask, “Am I depressed?”

Am I Depressed?

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Depression and sadness, though sharing similar qualities, are notably different conditions. It is important to be able to differentiate which one you are suffering from in order to seek the appropriate help and resources.

1. Circumstance

One distinction between sadness and depression is the circumstances. Sadness is an emotion caused by a specific event such as the death of a loved one or losing one’s job. Depression, however, can exist without any obvious source.

You may not be able to fill in the blank of why you feel sad. “I don’t know why I can’t feel better” or “I don’t know why I am sad, I just am,” are examples of what you may think if you are depressed.

2. Relief

Another way to differentiate depression from sadness is whether or not the sufferer can find relief from their symptoms. A person experiencing sadness might be able to lessen their pain with happy distractions, such as participating in a hobby or surrounding themselves with friends.

If you are a person who finds that their sadness is invading every aspect of their life and you find it difficult to experience relief from the pain, you may need to ask yourself, “Am I depressed?”

In fact, depression can be so invasive of your day-to-day existence that it often affects both your mental and physical health.

Those who suffer from depression often experience a variety of crippling symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion, lack of focus
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Aches and pains
  • Changes in appetite
  • Isolation
  • Feelings of hopelessness, fear, guilt, and grief

3. Hope

Perhaps the biggest difference between sadness and depression is knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Those who are feeling sad often still have the perspective and knowledge that it is temporary and will eventually end. They hold on to their hope and optimism that things will get better.

If you are depressed, however, you can be crippled by your symptoms and lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. These feelings of hopelessness may prevent you from combating the detrimental thoughts that keep you in a depressive state. Simple tasks such as grocery shopping or brushing your teeth can become painful and daunting if you have lost hope for a brighter future.

Finding the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Once you have answered the question, “Am I depressed?” with a “yes,” you can start the journey towards recovery feeling better equipped for taking the next step.

A great first step towards treating depression is talking with those close to you. These individuals can provide social support during the recovery process. In addition, they may suggest or encourage additional support from a professional therapist. Alongside a therapist, you can acquire the treatment plan and resources that can lead you to a full recovery.

And, if you have concluded that you are not depressed but rather sad, you may still find comfort in talking with friends or a professional.

Remember that sadness, grief, and disappointment are all things that everyone experiences. However, when the blue days seem too blue, too consuming, and without an end in sight, it might be time to ask, “Am I depressed?”

If you would like to know more about how to I can help you find the right treatment plan for your depression, please click HERE.