Everyone feels sad sometimes. It’s natural when we experience moments in life that make us feel overwhelmed, upset, or even hurt. Maybe we just got out of a relationship, we miss someone, or we feel alone. Maybe we tried our hardest but didn’t succeed, or the stress of everyday life is weighing on us. There are many reasons why we may feel sad, but how do we know when our sadness crosses over into clinical depression?
How do I know if I’m sad or depressed?
If you’re sad because you lost your job, are going through a breakup, or have lost someone in your life, this is normal. Sadness, even if it feels like extreme sadness, is a natural reaction to events like these. But regular sadness can turn into depression if the feelings don’t get better over time. Or if your mood starts to get in the way of your daily life.
To help figure out if you are sad or depressed, think about this:
- Depression is about being sad, but it’s more than that. Clinical depression is a mental health condition that involves a lot of symptoms. These symptoms may include feeling exhausted all the time, losing interest in activities you normally enjoy, or having thoughts of death and suicide. Episodes of depression last at least 2 weeks at a time. They can be triggered by a sad event, or they can seemingly come out of nowhere.
- Physical changes can also affect your mood. Some examples include hormone changes due to puberty or menopause, or certain medical treatments or conditions. If you think you might be depressed, it’s a good idea to have a doctor review any medications you’re taking and test your thyroid and other hormone levels.
- You may not know why you feel sad. If you still aren’t sure why you’re feeling down, or if mental illness of any kind runs in your family, there’s a decent chance you’re experiencing depression. If you haven’t already done so, consider taking our free online depression test.
The good news is depression is treatable. You can seek professional help from a doctor or a therapist, or there are also lots of things you can do on your own, like making lifestyle changes or using self-help tools. These steps can be helpful even if you’re just feeling sad and don’t have clinical depression. You can also start by learning more about what depression is, what causes it, and how it’s treated.