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5 Ways to Tell If You’re Just Sad or Really Depressed

Without treatment, the effects of depression can quickly spiral out of control and can impact every aspect of your life.

Everyone has bad days: days when you’re down, sad, and don’t feel like doing anything.

You struggle to get out of bed. You don’t smile. And you just want to be left alone to wallow in your misery. For most people, these days are just that – bad days. The sadness is circumstantial and not an everyday occurrence. But for others, the sadness lingers, it deepens, and it may be more than just a string of bad days. It may be depression. Clinical depression is more than just being sad. It involves lasting feelings of sadness and can become chronic. Without treatment, the effects of depression can quickly spiral out of control and can impact every aspect of your life. That’s why here at Ask Dr. Nandi, we want you to know the differences between just being sad and real depression, so you can be your own health hero and get the help you need when you need it.

Here are five ways to tell if you’re just sad or if you’re really depressed:

You feel sad most of the time

When you have clinical depression, you’re sad most of the time. Not just when you’re at home, not just when you’re at work, but pretty much every minute of every day. The feelings become overwhelming and begin to impact how you sleep and eat.

You’re hopeless

When you’re sad, it’s about something specific. You bungled a project at work. Your mother died. Or you’re going through a divorce. But when you’re depressed, everything is awful, and you become hopeless. You think that no matter what happens, things are never going to change, and you’ll always feel this low.

You don’t enjoy what you used to

When you’re sad, you still enjoy reading books, spending time with people, and walks on the beach. When you’re depressed, nothing makes it better, even the things that used to bring you joy. When old hobbies and activities no longer bring you out of your funk, chances are it’s more than just being sad. 


Your relationships are negatively affected

Depression causes people to withdraw from those closest to them, including family and friends. These relationships become neglected, and even when those you love reach out to offer support, you push them away.

You’re suicidal

When you’re depressed, the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt can become too much, and you may start thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide. If you’re becoming preoccupied with death or think the world would be better off without you, it’s time to seek professional help. Depression is different than sadness. It’s a chronic, debilitating mental health disorder that makes you have abnormally sad thoughts. But there is help. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, be a health hero and get help before it’s too late.

Partha’s RX

    • Changes in appetite are a common sign of depression.
    • Changes in sleep patterns, and wanting to sleep even after eight hours of shut eye, are also typical characteristics of depression.
    • Depression causes a mental fog that makes it harder for people to concentrate or remember things.
    • Depression also causes severe irritability, restlessness, and unease.
    • Don’t underestimate suicidal comments and seek help if someone you love is making them.

If you found this helpful and want to see more, join Dr. Nandi’s newsletter Health Hero community!

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Partha Nandi

Partha Nandi M.D., F.A.C.P is the creator and host of the medical lifestyle television show, “The Dr. Nandi Show”.

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