What is Depression? Is it Different from Sadness?

What is depression? How do you know if you are depressed or just plain old sad? You know you feel lousy, you know you don’t want to leave your room, you know you been crying, but is it simply sadness? How do you know?

Everybody gets sad sometimes. Break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and the sadness can last for days, for a week, with a lump in your stomach that feels like undigested and lousy-to-begin-with meatloaf. Get rejected from the college of your choice or the job you really want and you feel like the steak you ate for dinner last night has moved into your stomach, only to be joined by six packages of Juicy Fruit stuck in you throat. If this is not enough, you’re irritable and have a desire to kick yourself and everybody else.

It feels lousy to be sad. 

But is this depression?

Here’s a hint on how to separate sadness from clinical depression. When you’re sad (and not clinically depressed) you often turn to your friends or family for help. And although you cry, you usually don’t cry day and night for weeks or months. And you don’t think seriously about suicide.


While there are different types of depression (and I’m going to talk about each),the rule of thumb is that if you experience at least five of the following during the same two week period and this behavior is different than your normal functioning, you very well might be clinically depressed.

So what are the symptoms?

*A really down mood for most of the day nearly every day for two weeks straight*You start sleeping too much or too little*You start eating a lot more than usual or start refusing to eat*You lose interest in all or almost all of the things you used to love*You’re constantly tired and have no energy*You often feel worthless or guilty*You cry much of the day and night *You can’t think, concentrate or make decisions and this is unlike you*You have thoughts of death, wish you were dead or have made a suicide plan or attempt.