Sadness vs. Depression

Sadness:

Is a normal part of being human.

A natural biological response to loss or failure.

Sadness has a purpose:

  1. to get support from others when there is a loss.

  2. to help one make sense of loss and understand how to move forward.

It does this by:

  1. getting us to slow down and distract less by decreasing energy

  2. getting us to think about what we are sad about

  3. getting people around us to help us think things through (crying is the body’s natural way of asking for help).

Depression is often sadness that is "stuck" because it is blocked from accomplishing its natural purpose stated above, usually by:

  1. avoiding people or not asking for support when one is sad (often because we’re conditioned to be ashamed of loss, failure, or sadness)

  2. avoiding thinking or talking about what you are sad about (because we take sadness to be a bad thing, or because the sadness is difficult to face without support)

  3. avoiding seeking specialized help when the loss is particularly complex or poorly understood by us and those around us.

When sadness is blocked from being productive, it stays present, gets overwhelming, seems to become a new baseline, sometimes even starts to cause the physiological changes we call clinical depression (inability to feel pleasure, trouble concentrating, changes in sleep, changes in appetite, decrease in energy + guilty rumination and suicidal thinking)

*Therefore, the ultimate way to prevent depression is to become comfortable with feeling, expressing and responding to sadness (and finding people in our lives who are able to do the same).*

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