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!


Partha Nandi

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

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Michelle MoultonTarynCheryl McraeTiffany NewsomeRubina fazal Recent comment authors
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This is so true at one point and sometimes still I hit these emotions however I do suffer with PTSD and now I’m getting the right support for it which is only a positive thing for me my except is nature I just fall in love with the country side I reassure myself and speak loving and positive helped me no ends


I think im depressed

Tiffany Newsome
Tiffany Newsome

Most days it all feels the same. It is my belief that depression can last a lot longer than just being sad.

Robina fazal

Thanks..again..💖👑💐Doc.Partha Nanďi…for a nice Article.. yeah…beautifully explained.. the difference between sadness..and depression…As Sadness.. about some event..Some mishap…some tragedy…Some thing that makes us sad…and feel in sorrow moments… natural…but if that sadness.. becomes is alarming.. and it can cause real bad effects on the individual ..if he or she can’t know to ease hid herself…and suppressed by it…That depression will eventually destroy the persons health.. mental and physical ….and their life have to bèar the side effects..It ñeeds a lot practice to let the sadness vanish away in a relax way..and not let depression eat it up….Meditations..positive thinking.. proper life style….proper routines…healthy physical mental activities really makes life full of zeal and zest.…..So life is wht we make out of it . Live life yourself.. and love care all….Amen.


I now believe that I am suffering from full-blown depression. I realize that I need to be surrounded by people who express actions and words that say they really support me. Words do not mean anything to me without actions. I do not want to be with people who give me mixed messages. I choose to move on from everyone who expresses loyalty that I have to question. People are either with me or they are not with me. These people must make a choice. I do not need to everyone to agree with me. I agree that I will need some professional help in dealing with my depression. I would like to get out of the woods. Thank You very much for your help


My depression lifted, I halved my medication, my general well-being improved when I was lifted out this environment….albeit, short term. The difference in me was noticeable. I’m back to my lousy environment, and back to being depressed. Sometimes it’s the little things that lift us up.

Tiffany Newsome
Tiffany Newsome

@Margo 🙁 I sincerely hope things get better for you as well.


Hi, I’m not aware of anyone who is that sad or really depressed, except myself. But people adopt a persona to cover up their feelings sometimes. When one starts talking to people, the flood gates may open up then. We so often represss our sadness in order to continue with daily life. I can totally relate to all of the above situations and feelings of despair, despondency and depression. There’s never anyone there for you when needed, I feel that no one cares, I feel stressed, hopeless, worthless, worried, suicidal, I stop caring about myself and my chores, household or shopping. Or even personal appearance. I hide, sleep the hours and pain away. The list goes on. Take medication to keep calm, calm anxiety. I have no motivation, friends, family, money or social life. Everyone around me seems happy. There must be millions of people out there who are sad and depressed. This, I do know. It’s a deep subject, which I could talk about for hours, but I never find it easy to explain everything in a message. If I did know someone like this in my life, I would be offer to try and support them to the best of my ability. It’s hard not to get dragged into their world though and become depressed yourself. There are strategies to help with that though. My fitness instructor lost her Mum recently, and I sense her sadness. I do try not to state the obvious, and come up with some ideas to cheer her up, offer her some words of comfort. But she does have loads of family and friends to support her. I feel I can still provide her with a little something. Every little helps someone who is sad. I’ve got lots more to say. It’s impossible to cover it all.


Very informative now I know the difference between sadness and being depressed. Thanks for the article and the poiNters

Wren Williams
Wren Williams

Thank you for article. Gave me a few things to think about.

Beatrice Hernandez

Thank you for your enlightening article.
Sadly there are too many uninformed people who just think someone is weak or lazy…
In the past there was no medication and you had to rely on your family to help you cope.
You are so right..
Depression takes many forms…
Insomnia is one of the most troubling issues you can encounter.
We all need our sleep.
When you are alone most of the time it can be very difficult not to fall into the deep well of depression.
My Sister and Son and I took care of my Mother until she died.
It was out of love we willingly took on the responsibility. She did suffer from depression…
We were there for her…
It seems my Family has mental issue problems on both sides of the Family.
My Sister and I have discussed this before.
It took many years before I could get my life under control.
Medication and loving parents who were willing to help me saved me.
It is with deep sadness that I face my own life now fighting for peace.
I keep my problems to myself because I cannot discuss these bouts of depression.
It is because of my religious upbringing that my life has become better…
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on different difficulties depression can cause.

Sandra Heckles
Sandra Heckles

Am praying for you Beatrice, may you soon find the Peace you need. God Bless you….


I totally agree. This article is quite informative. I was diagnosed with depression after the second attack on our World Trade Building in NYC in 2001. Because I had parents that made sure I went back to college after working my summers, Summer 1980s I worked as a bank teller in tower 1. There was no Facebook at that time. So so many of my friends stayed and worked in place of going back to school. So I realized that my level and of sadness was so down all of the time wondering where about 20 people were. I would like to think that Neville, Michael, Rocksand, Menia made it out and I never new if they did. I suffered a great deal before getting help. I suffer sometime now because I half take my meds. Some of us still struggle with accepting meds for depression.I believe that I am a true conquer through JESUS CHRIST AND IM SO GRATEFUL FOR GOD,s strength with this ugly disease.

Tiffany Newsome
Tiffany Newsome

@ Cheryl… Sometimes environment plays a role in depression. It is not always about whether or not you accept that you need medication. There was a time where I was able to do better with my depression. However, I am currently in a housing situation where people are constantly harassing me. There are people who put dish detergent, toilet water, and other chemicals in my food. If its not that, they are constantly breaking into my room destroying my things, pouring them out, diluting them. Here lately one even interrupts the cycle on the dishwasher to find a way to taint, contaminate, or aggravate me further. And if that’s not enough, some of the same people follow me around daily to stalk and cyber stalk. They lie on me. They tell people within the community none of them in which I personally know that I steal (and I don’t), so on and so forth. They ramble through my personal items and even break into the mailbox in the apartment community in which we live. All because of what I am not sure. But I know sadness and depression entirely too well. I hope your situation improves.


My heart goes out to you and I prayed sincerely for you. I’m going through SO MUch as well. Gang Stalking and by someone that I was so kind too. And I walked away from him not as a girlfriend that he loved and cared about but as one of his side pieces side chicks that he really didn’t consider important .Shortly after a man that I look up to he and I had a serendipitous moment and something supernatural beyond Him and I happened. So that’s in my spirit. My grown children are in my spirit. I learned through reevaluating myself I enjoy happiness and joy. That’s my true personality.The tiny voice of the Holy Spirit just simply said to me just 1 min ago stop reliving the pain and trust ME. So I am encouraging you to remove yourself from that living situation if at all possible. It may hurt you may love someone but think of yourself just a little and once you get out it will increase. And of course circumstances around us either help our depression or hinder it. And only we can determine that we deserve to live in healthy mental state. And I’m not shoving JESUS down your throat but there is liberty , peace, love ,in HIS NAME ALONE. PRAY everyday and watch GOD bring you out. Excuse any typos❤️