Thanks to the pandemic, mental health problems have been on the rise, leaving many of us struggling to keep our head above water.
Without social stimulation from contact with friends, family, and even our jobs, people are becoming increasingly lonely, often experiencing moments of overwhelming despair. This kind of sadness is often a part of life and is to be expected during hard times like these. However, if your sadness feels more like a never-ending gloom, then you might just be depressed.
How to tell the difference between sadness and depression
Oftentimes people may believe they are depressed when they are really just sad and vice versa. The difference between the two is that sadness is a small part of depression and is an emotion that may be triggered rather than just appearing on its own. Whereas depression can rear its ugly head at any time, without any reason at all. This beast then takes up residence in your mind and body, affecting much of your day to day life.
Is your sadness a symptom of depression?
Depression comes in many shapes and sizes and feeling sad may be just one of the ways in which your depression manifests itself. But how do you know if your sadness is a sign of a larger issue or just a fleeting feeling?
Feeling overwhelmingly sad for no reason
Sadness is a normal part of life but regular sadness is usually brought on by a negative event, experience or thought. If you find yourself the victim of a sudden surge of overwhelming sadness for a long time, the feeling even triggering confusion, disorientation and an ongoing negative state of mind, then you may just be depressed.
Getting work done is a struggle
With sadness, it may be easy to distract yourself with tasks. But, with depression, feelings of sadness can inhibit your ability to work. If you notice your once productive days have begun to slip away, and despite your best efforts to concentrate you find yourself unable to think straight, then your sadness may be a symptom of depression.
Losing interest in friends
A lot of the times when we are sad we tend to seek solace from friends and family. However, with depression, people often find themselves uninterested in socialising. This is often because negative thoughts fill your head, leading you to prefer isolation to social comforting. This isolation could, in turn, trigger a more intense form of depression.
Your sadness doesn’t go away on its own
As a feeling, sadness often goes away on its own in due time. However, with depression, your sadness may linger indefinitely. In this case it’s best to seek help in order to banish this feeling. Alternatively, if you know of someone who is suffering from depression, try to reach out as they may need help getting through it.
Intense mood swings
While sadness on its own may trigger some mood swings, but sadness as a symptom of depression may leave you feeling a bit like a time bomb. If you find that your mood has been changing at the drop of a hat or that one wrong word could leave you in tears, then you may be depressed.
The inability to focus
With depression, your feelings of sadness may make it impossible to focus. This may manifest itself in an inability to pinpoint the cause of anxiety and depression, complete tasks or maybe you just can’t think of the words you’re looking for. Depression often rips away the capacity to concentrate and leaves you feeling constantly distracted.
What can you do if you have depression?
If you think your sadness may be a sign of depression, think hard about what issues in your life could be fueling this feeling. For some, a regular routine involving exercise, healthy eating, hobbies, socialisation and a reduction in screen time may help to mitigate these feelings. However, during the pandemic, getting outside or seeing friends may be impossible.
Remember that you should never be scared to ask for help and that you can connect with friends, family and even therapists at a virtual level. Alternatively, you can contact Samaritans any time day or night at 116 123.