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In my last blog post I talked about the difference between sadness and depression. I want to explore this popular topic a bit more today. What is sadness?  It is defined as follows:

the condition or quality of being sad.
“a source of great sadness”
synonyms: unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, depression, misery, despondency, despair, desolation, wretchedness, gloom, gloominess, dolefulness, melancholy, mournfulness, woe, heartache, grief; informalthe blues

Depression is defined as follows:

feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
“self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”

So, what is the difference? Clinically speaking, depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways. Depression does not necessarily require a difficult event or situation, a loss, or a change of circumstance as a trigger.

When making a diagnosis of depression, at least five of the following symptoms must be present:

  1. A depressed or irritable mood most of the time.
  2. A loss or decrease of pleasure or interest in most activities, including ones that had been interesting or pleasurable previously.
  3. Significant changes in weight or appetite.
  4. Disturbances in falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  5. Feeling slowed down in your movements or restless most days.
  6. Feeling tired, sluggish, and having low energy most days.
  7. Having feelings of worthless or excessive guilt on most days.
  8. Experiencing problems with thinking, focus,  and the ability to make decisions most days.
  9. Having thoughts of dying or suicide.

Being sad is usually the result of an event or life trigger. Sadness is temporary and healthy, where depression can be a genetic predisposition or caused by underling medical issues (aging, post-pregnancy), or feelings of sadness without the trigger.

When I speak to groups about depression and sadness, anxiety and the workplace are often involved. It’s important to inform peers about depression and sadness if you notice a problem and then offer help. Understanding and providing tools and resources is always suggested. Want to know more? I am available to speak at your next corporate event.

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