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Depression vs. Sadness and What You Can Do About It

Depression vs. Sadness and What You Can Do About It

Posted on April 10th, 2017 by Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C

We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled posts on the Five Love Languages to bring you this exclusive special in which I was invited to a local TV station to do a short bit on depression.  Here’s the clip with a brief discussion, with some further elaboration to follow:

Depression vs. Sadness

One of the questions the producers asked me about was the difference between depression and sadness. The whole interview was fairly short, so I want to revisit some of these important points.

  • Sadness is a normal part of the ups and downs everyone experiences.  If you’re down for a while, but also experience normal ups, that’s normal and healthy.  (Normal ups as opposed to the really elevated moods and mania that might indicate bipolar disorder, which can certainly look like depression.)
  • Sadness is generally linked to a reason you can point to.  A loss in your life – the death of someone close to you, a financial setback, a failed job interview – these are all good reasodepressionns for a person to be sad, even for an extended period.  But if you just “feel sad all the time” and can’t point to any reason for it, that’s a red flag to watch out for.
  • Depressed people frequently are unable to enjoy anything at all.  Where once they might have enjoyed sports, video games, reading, whatever it is – now that same activity brings them no pleasure.  Someone who is sad might succeed in breaking out of the mood, even if only temporarily, with an activity they used to enjoy, a funny TV show, something; depression, however, can rob a person of the ability to enjoy anything at all.
  • Depression may not even look like sadness to begin with. Instead, it can manifest as a numb or empty feeling, neither happy nor sad.  Or it could show up in anger and irritability.  Don’t assume that a person who doesn’t seem sad isn’t depressed!

“Home Remedies” for Depression

If you suspect you are suffering from depression, you should certainly reach out to a therapist or your doctor to get help rather than going it alone. That said, there are certainly things you can do in conjunction with treatment or while seeking treatment that can be helpful.  In cases of mild depression, these might be enough to keep you going.

  • Get regular exercise! The benefits of exercise can hardly be understated.  The physiological effects it has on your brain and body are an excellent remedy for – and preventive measure against – depression.
  • Meditate. Research has shown many times over that meditation is an effective way of dealing with a number of physical and mental ailments.  A simple way to get started if you’ve never done it before: seat yourself in a comfortable position where you won’t be disturbed. Set a timer for 5 minutes (you can work your way up to longer periods as you get more comfortable with it). For those 5 minutes, simply focus your attention on your breathing. That’s it. You will find that your mind wanders – that is normal and to be expected. As you notice that your focus has left your breathing, just refocus yourself on your breathing. It doesn’t matter if you have to do this every 3 seconds. It doesn’t matter what crazy thoughts come into your head. If you sit for 5 minutes and just keep doing this, that’s a success.  You are not better or worse if you have more or less trouble staying focuseyoga for depressiond. It is simply the exercise of doing this that is important.
  • Yoga: this brings benefits similar to both meditation and exercise. If yoga suits you, it’s an excellent way to combat depression.
  • Therapy. You can in fact get therapy from the comfort of your own home – which, for folks who are severely depressed may be the only option. Research has shown that online counseling is as effective as in-person therapy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and if getting help in your own bedroom appeals to you, there’s no reason not to check it out.

There’s certainly a lot more to say on the topic of depression. If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from depression, please reach out today and let us help you get better!

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