What's the difference between depression and being sad?

Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Mental Health America

People who have depression feel sad, but not everyone who feels sad has depression.  Depression is a type of mental health problem where the sadness becomes so difficult that it affects a person’s life.

Feeling sad is normal. Especially when it’s a reaction to difficult things like moving somewhere new, losing friends or a loved one, breakups, or losing a job.  Other times, feeling sad might be related to physical changes like stress, not getting enough sleep, or hormone changes during a menstrual cycle.

People who realize they might be struggling with depression might think “This isn’t normal. There’s no reason to feel the way I feel.”  If sadness lasts for a long time, if you can’t pinpoint a source of the depressed feelings, or sometimes you feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by people you love and who love you, it might be worthwhile to check if you’re struggling with something more than sadness.

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