While we use the terms “sadness” and “depression” interchangeably in our everyday lives and in pop culture, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. They look the same, but they are not. Experts say it’s like comparing a star to a constellation. It’s about understanding what separates sadness from depression. Important, because it helps people to know wHen to seek professional help and prevent unnecessary suffering.

Experts who spoke to Lifehacker described grief as a common emotional state that all people experience after a loss, disappointment, or other upsetting event in their lives. Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health condition characterized by persistent sadness or loss of happiness most of the day and almost every day for at least two weeks, according to Dr. Catherine Gordon, A. Clinical psychologist and author Suicidal ideation workbook.

One of the biggest differences between grief and depression is how long the experience lasts. Dr. Bedford Palmer, a Licensed psychologist in California and founder Deeper than colorHe said It’s sad. Dedicated to a moment.

“It could be a one-day seizure. The weather may have changed now,” Palmer said.. “It might not even be that bad, to be honest. It’s something you can feel sad about and appreciate, like, ‘I’m sad that this happened,’ and that’s appropriate.”

But depression is very complicated and can seriously affect a personS Life. Palmer depression a A constellation of symptoms It adds sadness, but other things are also happening. People may lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping, have stomach aches, have trouble concentrating, or not enjoy things. They did it regularly.

In these cases, the person is experiencing something more than grief, which can be difficult to deal with on their own.

How does depression differ from a sad or bad day?

Dr. Jesse Gold, Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, he said In an email where medical professionals look for different symptoms when diagnosing depression, not just sadness. b Major depression episodeComposed of strong and severe symptoms that interfere with the daily life of the individual, the symptoms should be observed for two weeks.

According to Gould, this standard “emphasizes that people are responding to life circumstances or a very difficult day at work, and those are not necessarily illnesses.”

Most people feel sad, it’s a normal reaction, but it’s important to notice what’s going on with you when you’re sad, how long the symptoms last, and whether they’re interfering with your day. – Day life, ” said gold. ” It is important “

In addition, depression itself can manifest in many ways beyond sadness, and sometimes people with depression may not feel sad at all, Palmer explained. Depressed people may have trouble concentrating or become really upset. It can also make people less motivated or withdrawn from others.

Grief is temporary, but depression can be difficult to overcome.

Palmer suggests that it is useful to think of depression as being on a spectrum. Simply put, a person can range from mild depression to severe depression. What distinguishes these classes is their degree of intensity, which refers to how they interfere with a person’s life and how long they last.

“It’s very different from listening to a sad song and feeling depressed. It’s different than losing a family member and being really sad for a month, but coming out of it and feeling a little better for weeks. “With depression, it’s not an emotional trigger or a time away from an emotional trigger. Until the biological causes of depression are changed, either naturally or with medication, you will not get out of it and feel better.

However, this does not mean that grief cannot affect people in profound ways. Gordon, psychologist and author, said Sometimes grief can have a big effect on people, even if they don’t feel depressed. For example, she explains that if grief is associated with grief, it affects people’s lives and feelings long-term, even if they are not depressed.

People who do not deal with depression are more likely to experience another episode.

In our society, it’s common for loved ones to tell people with depression to power through it, or to tell them that it’s just a part of life. Gordon explains that depression sometimes goes away. Away with himself. This can happen over time, changes in life circumstances, or due to what’s called “spontaneous remission,” she says. But This does not mean that a person cannot experience another depression in the future.

“[I]”Depression goes away on its own without treatment and learning new coping strategies increases the likelihood of depression returning at some point,” Gordon said.

Palmer agreed, saying that often people with depression go down the valley and then come back. The effects of depression are removed, and you can feel good, maybe even for a long time. But vulnerability to depression is a different story. Palmer compared vulnerability to a physical illness such as asthma. Maybe you haven’t been assaulted in years, Palmer said, but that doesn’t mean the potential for assault isn’t there.

People with depression may have suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are a big difference between grief and depression. According to Gould, the psychiatrist, suicidal thoughts and depression often go together, and depression is a The cause of the accident to kill oneself. However, she noted that not all those with suicidal thoughts are depressed. Similarly, not all people with depression have suicidal thoughts.

Gold says she considers suicidality a serious warning sign for depression, but also points out that there are different levels of severity for psychiatrists to think about. These differences are not generally noticed by friends or family members, but mental health providers are trained to do so.

“For a psychiatrist, There’s a difference between saying, ‘I wish I didn’t wake up tomorrow,’ and saying, ‘I just started taking my medication and I know I want to end my life this way,'” Gold said. Psychiatrists are more concerned when suicidal thoughts are frequent or easy to ignore.

How to know when to seek help

All experts who He emphasized with Lifehacker It is important for people to know what their “base” is.of Normal behavior for them –And pay close attention to any changes. Gold suggests asking questions about specific habits and activities. You usually sleep seven hours and now you sleep five? Do you eat differently than usual? Don’t want to isolate and do things with your friends?

Another important aspect to consider is whether a person’s symptoms are getting worse, the psychiatrist. (for exampleif so (You used to be able to leave the house to see your friends, but now you can’t.) People should think about how their symptoms affect their lives. Just because you’re still working and going to work or school doesn’t mean you’re safe.

I see a lot of health professionals and college kids who say, “I’m going to school, my grades are good,” or “I’m working, and I can still do my job well,” so I can’t get stressed. said Gold. “In my experience, school and work are things many of us can do for a long time when we’re stressed, and other areas of our day-to-day lives. [are affected first]He said.

Some people may stop taking care of themselves or their home, Gold said.. They may also stop maintaining friendships or pay less attention to relationships with partners or children.

According to Palmer and Gordon, other warning signs include prolonged sadness, such as feeling sad most days or every day for weeks. People should consider getting help when their emotional state is causing them great distress and is affecting their relationships, work, or school. Suicidal thoughts are also a big and serious warning sign. People who experience repeated suicidal thoughts should seek professional help immediately.

How to treat depression

Treatment for depression depends on many factors, says Goldincluding the severity of symptoms, the person’s mental health history, and family mental health history. Many people can begin to manage their depression with medication, which allows them to identify depression and its triggers. Cognitive behavioral therapy It can give people the skills to cope with depression without medication.

However, other people may not get better with treatment alone He needs medicine, like gold. In those cases, preferred First line drugs Psychiatrists are to Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. Studies show that a Combination Medication and therapy are the best treatment options for people with moderate to severe depression.

Overall, all the experts Lifehacker spoke to emphasized that there are many evidence-based treatments available to help people with depression. They also said. It’s never too early to get help.

“Depression affects many people. It is not the result of weakness or a personal flaw. It’s a mental health condition with important treatments,” Gordon said. “Please, if you are struggling, be kind to yourself and know that you are worthy of support.”

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