Restorations Therapy Blog

What’s the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?

by on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

What’s the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?

An estimated seven percent of Americans will experience a depressive episode each year and roughly 20 percent of Americans will experience a depressive episode at some point in his or her lifetime. Depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide. Awareness of the true causes and symptoms of depression has grown in recent years and researchers are still learning new things about the condition. Despite this greater understanding and awareness, many misconceptions about depression still persist. One of those misconceptions is that depression is just sadness and someone who is depressed can just cheer up or snap out of it. However, there’s much more to it than that. Here’s why depression is not just sadness.

Depression has physical symptoms.

One of the biggest differences between depression and sadness is that depression actually has physical symptoms. Although low mood, what one might call sadness, is a necessary symptom of a clinical depression diagnosis, many other symptoms are physical. For example, sleep disturbance or insomnia are among the most common symptoms of depression. These are thought to be caused by a disruption of the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that controls your sleep/wake cycle. This is mainly done through coordinating hormones such as melatonin or cortisol. Your body temperature also drops during sleep and warms up during the day, but recent research has found that these temperature changes often don’t happen if someone is depressed. In fact, one study found that depressed people who warmed their core temperatures by taking a hot bath in the afternoon experienced a relief of symptoms.

Other recent studies have found that depression may be linked to inflammation, part of your body’s natural process for fighting infection. People with depression have been found to have higher inflammation markers, such as c-reactive protein. And people with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to have depression too.

Depression is persistent.

Sadness typically doesn’t persist for more than a few hours at a time. Even while grieving, sadness tends to come and go. However, the low mood of depression is almost constant. What’s more, it must persist for at least two weeks for a clinical diagnosis of depression. Depressed mood is also not sufficient for a depression diagnosis. You must also experience loss of interest or pleasure and at least three more of eight common symptoms, such as weight loss, slow movements, fatigue, loss of concentration, and others, in the same two week period.

Not everyone experiences depression as sadness.

While sadness or depressed mood is necessary for a clinical diagnosis of depression, it’s not always the most prominent symptom and many people may experienced depressed mood differently. For example, men are more likely to describe their depressed moods as irritability or anger rather than sadness. And symptoms like physical aches, disturbed sleep, and poor concentration might be more disruptive and noticeable than depressed mood or sadness.

Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. In order to offer patients a more holistic view on a healthy sexuality, Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-6585 as we are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm.

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