Understanding sadness vs depression on a surface level is not good enough. Trust me, they are two different things, and we need to learn why.

Everyone experiences many sad times in their lives. The experience can even be overwhelming if life is kicking you around. It could come from the loss of a loved one or the end of a friendship and many other things.

Yes, this emotion is pretty common. The problem with the world today is how people compare mental health issues like depression to just being down in the dumps. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and it’s making things worse for those who suffer.

Sadness vs Depression: 6 Differences

There is a huge difference between sadness and depression. No, rather there are many differences. While crying is the manifestation of hurt and loss, sleeping all day can be the manifestation of a severe mental illness. It’s important that you learn the differences between the two. Allow me to explain how this works.

1. A diagnosis

First of all, you cannot be sad for a while and call it depression. This is because depression is a mental illness that must be diagnosed.

For instance, you can tell others that you feel bad and they cannot deny this because you’re the one feeling the emotion. With mental illness, you cannot just self-diagnose yourself unless you’ve been trained to do so. That’s the fundamental difference.

2. Emotions/mental illness

When you are comparing sadness vs depression, you have to understand that basically, being sad is an emotion. It just like being angry or happy – those are emotions too. So, when your friends talk about you behind your back, you may feel this emotion for a while. The thing is, you cheer up when you hear good news or do things you enjoy.

However, depression isn’t just an emotion. I cringe at people saying it’s just a feeling. This state of being is a mental illness and is much different than just being emotional. And when you’re going through it, nothing that you cared about before feels the same.

3. Length of time

Emotions come and go. Some last longer than others, but they do not remain the same constantly. When you’re unhappy, you’re feeling an emotion, and you may notice things that make you feel better during your downtimes. With neverending depression, you cannot just snap out of it when someone tells you to cheer up.

This mental illness, on the bad days, can last for weeks at a time. Without proper medication or therapy, it can last much longer. And you just cannot make the decision to be happy and get over what you’re feeling at will. In fact, depression is a completely altered mindset that just won’t budge as sadness can.

4. Mental illness isn’t a reaction

Many people are under the impression that depression comes from a traumatic event. This isn’t always true. While some negative things can trigger this illness, sometimes, there is no reason.

I remember being so far down in a mental pit that when someone inquired about what was wrong, I couldn’t tell them. The truth is, everything in the world could be perfect, but when you’re in the throws of this sickness, it doesn’t even matter.

You sleep all the time, or not at all. You eat too much or hardly anything. Also, your hygiene gets poor and you don’t consider it important. There are so many signs.

5. Life changes

Sadness isn’t powerful enough to change your entire life, but this is not true with depression. The only strength of gloominess is to temporarily make you feel bad.

With grieving, however, this can go on for longer periods of time due to the depth of loss. It can sometimes appear as depression, and it can, in certain cases, irritate dormant depression which is already present in the individual.

Life-changing illnesses can change you from the most fun-loving and happy person to something unrecognizable. This is the case when trauma is so bad that it leaves an imprint on your life, plummeting you into an ever-increasing mental illness.

This is seen mostly over the span of many years following the incident or multiple traumatic experiences. Your life is certainly changed by some things, and it can be beyond your control.

6. Suicidal thoughts

Generally, when you’re just gloomy, you don’t really think about suicide. Most of the time, the emotions are only surface level, or shallow. You may get angry during your downtimes, feeling cheated by something or betrayed by someone close to you.

It’s okay, you will get over this soon. BUT, I will say, if you think someone is just sad according to these indicators, but they talk about suicide, take them seriously.

Suicidal thoughts are common with mental illness, and should never be brushed off. Due to stigmas, many words of giving up or ending it all have been laughed at or even ridiculed.

I’ve heard many people say that others just want attention or feed off drama. While this may be true of some, depression is still real. So, any talk of suicide should always be taken seriously. Do I need to stress that again? Believe them.

How can we understand more?

When it comes to sadness vs depression, we can solve this misconception. The stigma surrounding mental illness has gotten out of hand. So many people are suffering, not only with their sicknesses but because of those who do not understand or believe them.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling down and even telling someone you feel this way. But never mistake a mental disorder for an emotion. This is not only hurting people’s feelings but also downplaying the need for reformed therapy and better funding.

Let’s remember these differences, and share them with friends. You never know how much your influence can change the world for the better until you be a positive example.


  1. https://www.mentalhealth.gov
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Eva

    Hi. very interesting article, never thought about the difference between these two concepts or identified them at all, but the difference is really significant. Therefore, I think that now I still often face sadness – temporary, which arose as a result of some negative action or deed. That’s why I don’t need to treat him, I just need to calm down. I will just try not to turn my sadness into a painful depression

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    Eva, I do hope it is only sadness, but if it doesn’t go away, see someone and maybe get a diagnosis. Depression hides.

    Thank you for reading, Eva.
    Hope things go well.

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