Is it sadness, or am I depressed?

How do I tell the difference between normal sadness and clinical depression?

Is it sadness, or am I depressed?

Sadness is part of the human condition, but when does it become a concern? How do you know whether you need to seek professional help?

Feeling down or sad is a normal part of being alive, especially in today’s climate of uncertainty and isolation brought on by Covid-19. Sadness is an emotional state that should not be avoided or met with shame. When we avoid sadness we start to feel emotions such as anger, frustration, or loneliness. The next time you notice you are feeling down, ask yourself: “what can I call the emotion I am feeling right now?”. Make sure you do not judge the sadness, or where it might come from. Give yourself enough time to feel sad. Ask yourself how you would like to feel better, and what steps you can take to get there.

How to tell if you might be experiencing depression:

  • A depressed mood, most of the day, nearly everyday
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, you might have five of the above symptoms for a two-week period, in a way that causes significant distress or difficulties in your personal functioning, occupational functioning, in your relationships and in important areas of your life.

Download the Panda app to complete a free assessment called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Get your score to better understand the severity of your depressive symptoms.