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Trying to differentiate between the two can sometimes be a difficult task. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain while sadness is merely a normal human emotion. Both should be dealt with accordingly, but it’s important to know the difference for your long-term health, both mental and physical. I, myself, am still trying to figure it out. Up until recently, I’ve been in this weird foggy state of mind where everything was just on autopilot and I thought my existence wasn’t crucial to whatever this world has planned for me. It was a dark time... I always put on a smile and helped others with their problems. In my head it was easier to deal with others' problems instead of my own. I was raised in an environment where if I cried I would be told to grow thicker skin or that other people had worse problems. Maybe even that’s why I tried so hard to solve other people’s problems, because I wanted to validate finally dealing with my own. But nonetheless, I went on doing what I was doing. Never shedding a tear. I wanted help, but didn’t want to ask for it until one day my sister—who has severe depression—made a deal with me that if I were to seek help that she would finally seek help. Desperate to help my sister get help, I opened up to my dad and stepmom about what I’ve been feeling. A few days later, I was given vitamins and told to, “Get over it.” That was a definite let down. Not only could I not get help, but now my sister would not get help either.
I battled depression for a while. A big help was to set tiny goals, each and every day. To me, making my bed, doing my nails, or going for a walk were all mini victories. I loved it. A few months ago I noticed a shift in my mental state. I wasn’t in bed 24/7, not having motivation to do anything or constantly thinking negative thoughts about myself. I, not wanting to jinx it, wrote it off as just a good day. But a good day turned into a good week, and a good week turned into a good month. And a couple months later and here we are. Now recently I’ve been a bit irritable, and overall, a bit gloomy. I realized that I was sad. And I knew this because I was sad about something. Whereas when you’re depressed you’re sad about everything.
Depression, which is a mental illness, is a nontypical emotional state that skews everything from our behavior and perceptions up to our thoughts, emotions, and actions in deep-rooted ways. Depression can make even the most enjoyable experience seem less worthwhile. You’ll seem more irritable, lose motivation, be drained of energy, fluctuate in weight, and find that you’re unable to find pleasure or joy in the activities and things you once did. Unlike depression, sadness usually has a specific trigger like getting fired or failing an exam. It helps to relieve this sadness by talking it out with your friends or loved ones, or even crying. Sadness usually passes, but if you find that after a few weeks, you can’t function the way that you did, or have a lack of energy, then this could be a sign of a deeper depression.
If you or a loved one have depression, or have symptoms of depression, you should seek the help from a trained professional for a diagnosis and treatment. Depression is a common mental illness and has many treatments that could be beneficial for you.