Depression vs Sadness: How to spot the difference?

Depression vs Sadness: How to spot the difference

Depression vs Sadness is a common search on Google today. Millions of people around the world experience sadness or depression at some point in their lives. However, recognizing the difference between a diagnosis of depression and the emotion of sadness can help a person process both in a healthful way.


We all feel sad when bad things happen. For example, the loss of a loved one, a breakup, or just a bad day can all cause sadness. Depression, on the other hand, can be debilitating and require additional support. A major depressive disorder lasts for at least two weeks. It affects a person’s ability to work, carry out usual daily activities, and impact personal relationships.


Sadness is a symptom of depression, but it is not the only one. Here are some signs that can help you determine if you or your loved one feels sad or depressed.


A person who is feeling sad:

  • Might express emotion through crying.
  • Might spend time alone.
  • Can maintain regular eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Can participate in everyday activities, such as work or school.
  • Starts feeling better in a few days or weeks.

A person who has depression:

  • Might experience unusual feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, and irritability that last two weeks or more.
  • Might move more slowly or sometimes becomes agitated and unable to settle.
  • Might have sleeping difficulties or sometimes sleep too much.
  • Might lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable.
  • Might have thoughts about self-harm or suicide.


Depression and sadness are linked but are not the same. Sadness is an emotion that everyone experiences, often after stressful or upsetting life events. On the other hand, depression is an overpowering and ongoing mental health disorder that can drastically impact daily living.


Specific triggers will often cause sadness, whereas depression may have no identifiable cause. Sadness is a part of depression but is more temporary in nature.


Seek a medical opinion if sadness seems to continue for a disproportionate amount of time. Long-term sadness could indicate a deeper medical problem. Lastly, not every person who is depressed has all these symptoms. Everyone is different in the number and severity of symptoms, making it vital to understand depression and know how to identify and differentiate signs of sadness and depression.


If you or a loved one suffers from depression or are noticing the early signs of depression learn more about how Smart Health & Wellness Centers can help by visiting our Depression Program Page.



Sources for Depression vs Sadness: How to spot the difference:

Mental Health First Aid –

Medical News Today –