Depression and sadness – what is the difference?
People sometimes confuse sadness with depression.
Sadness is a normal human emotion that every person will feel throughout their lifetime. It is a natural reaction to things that give us emotional pain. Like our other emotions, sadness is only temporary and will go away in time. That sadness is temporary is what separates it from depression.
Depression, on the other hand, is a long-term mental health disorder. It affects mood, physical health, and how your brain processes information. If depression is left untreated, it may get worse or last for a long time. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between depression and sadness.
What is sadness?
Any number of life events can lead to feelings of sadness. Things like the death or absence of a loved one, divorce, change in or loss of jobs, other financial troubles, or difficult home life can all negatively affect any person’s mood.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that goes beyond simply sadness. Depression can strike anyone, regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, or past history with depression.
A recent study found that more than 16 million adults in the United States alone experienced at least one major depressive disorder episode in 2015. That’s somewhere around 6.7 percent of all adults in America.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of motivation
- Lack of interest in things that you used to enjoy
In the worst cases, a person with depression may even have suicidal thoughts or actions. They may become withdrawn or socially isolated and lose contact with close family or friends. They may also have trouble at work or in school. A person must have these symptoms usually two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. Symptoms include:
- Depressed mood through most of the day, almost every day, for weeks at a time
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies you used to enjoy
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
- Fatigue and low energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or shame
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
What are the risk factors for depression?
Depression can happen to any person, across all ethnic groups and backgrounds. There are risk factors to be aware of. Please note: these risk factors do not guarantee a person will or will not develop a depressive disorder.
- Childhood trauma or abuse early in life
- Struggling to cope with a traumatic life event, such as the death of a loved one
- Low self-esteem
- Family history of struggle with mental illness
- History of alcohol and drug abuse
- A chronic or traumatic medical condition like cancer or heart disease
- History of prior mental health disorders
- Lack of a social support system built out of friends or family
Depression may also come as an unwanted side effect with some medications, such as
- Statins (drugs used to treat cholesterol)
- Hormonal medications
An innovative new treatment option, Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic that has been found to provide rapid relief from depression and anxiety when infused at a low dose. It works in a different way from all the other depression medications on the market, and so even when patients fail everything else, they often find relief with ketamine.
Ketamine is available as an IV infusion, generally given over 40 minutes. Research indicates that ketamine stimulates the regrowth of synapses within the brain, essentially rewiring the parts of the brain that may be causing distress, and making the networking function more normally. Studies have consistently found a 70% success rate when treating those suffering from depression or PTSD with Ketamine Infusions.
The FDA has recently approved Esketamine (Spravato), a new medication based on a component of Ketamine, for treatment-resistant depression in adults. Esketamine is a nasal spray form of ketamine, given only clinics. Due to risks of sedation and diversion, people are not allowed to take Spravato at home. Studies are ongoing, but initial results show similar success to ketamine and good long-term results.