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The Difference Between Depression and Sadness

By Sara Butler

Every single person on the planet gets sad every now and again. You’ll often hear people say they’re feeling depressed when they’re feeling sad, even if the feelings are temporary. Sadness is a normal human emotion while depression is recognized as a mental health issue. That’s why understanding the difference between simply feeling sad and being depressed is an important thing. Here are a few ways you can tell the difference.

The Symptoms

Sadness may feel like depression for a short period of time, but when you're sad you have moments where you can laugh or be comforted. With depression, it’s different. Depression makes people unable to find enjoyment in the things that normally bring them joy. It’s also associated with physical symptoms, such as:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Overeating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Empty feelings
  • Anxiousness
  • Thoughts of harming yourself

Sadness can persist for a couple of weeks or even less, but depression and its symptoms stick around -- which is why it’s important to seek professional help if you feel you may be depressed or you have thought about hurting yourself.

Remember, one of the biggest markers of depression is how long your symptoms last. If it’s more than two weeks in which you’re feeling down and sad, then get help.


Sadness is often caused by an event, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job. These events can take time to work through and can come and go over a period of time. But sadness has a root cause you can trace it back to. Depression, on the other hand, doesn’t have a trigger. You can’t point to the reason you feel sad and that can lead to feelings of isolation from others since they can’t understand what is bringing on your feelings.


Sadness isn’t something you inherit in your genes, it’s simply an aspect of life everyone struggles with. Depression, however, does seem to be a hereditary mental health issue. In fact, if you have an immediate family member with depression or another mood disorder, then it increases your risk of depression too.

If you suspect you may be suffering from depression, talk to someone about it. There are things you can do to help you feel better and begin finding joy in life again.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Greenwood Village, Colo.

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