“What disturbs people’s minds is not events, but their judgments on events.”
In China, parents once bound the feet of their daughters in pursuit of beauty. In parts of Africa, both men and women elongate their earlobes and decorate their skin with minerals to look attractive, and this trend may be found in the United States now. At one time in this society, we found plump, rotund people to be the epitome of beauty.
Old movies show us that the Tarzans and Supermen of past decades would hardly pass muster in today’s gyms. Today we define beauty as a thin, youthful, and muscular look. Today we go under the knife and on extreme diets to achieve a socially acceptable appearance – not to mention tattoos and body piercing – all practices that are similar to the early Chinese custom of binding feet.
Although changes are taking place, strong social standards have dictated, especially through the media, how we should look – and if our own bodies deviate from these expectations, which is the case for almost all of us, we can feel inferior and ashamed. We hide. We cover up. We don’t like an important part of our selves. We feel depressed. We feel anxious in front of other people. We feel powerless – and we are apologetic when we show the world who we are.
The incidence of depression in our society seems to be on the rise. Recent estimates suggest that as many as one in three of us will experience some form of depression within our lifetimes. Others claim that depression may even represent a symptom of our times which are characterized by alienation, lack of strong community bonds, and hopeless economic situations for many.
It is normal to feel sad and experience down days occasionally. Most people go through normal periods of feeling dispirited, especially after they experience a loss or any other period of stress.
But what specialists call clinical depression is different from just being “down in the dumps.” The main difference is that the sad or empty mood does not go away after a couple of weeks – and everyday activities like eating, sleeping, socializing, or working can be affected.
We don’t always have the full range of words to explain what we are going through.
For example, we might say that we feel sad. Yet, in fact, we might have clinical depression and not even realize it. Alternatively, we might recognize depression in someone else who insists that they are “just sad.”
Honestly, it can be hard sometimes to tell the difference.
Sadness is a regular, temporary, human emotion. Depression, in contrast, is a mental health condition. Usually, it requires some kind of dedicated treatment before the condition will improve.
Here are seven key differences between sadness and depression.
1. The Cause for Sadness or Low Mood
One key difference between sadness and depression is whether or not something provokes the emotion. We feel sadness in response to something. For example, a breakup causes people to feel sad.
In contrast, depression doesn’t have a specific cause. We can sometimes point to reasons, finding a cause. However, when the mood doesn’t lift, we see that’s not the real reason. Something underlying it all is at the root. If we can’t find a concrete cause for feeling blue, then we need to consider that it might be depression.