In an age when people use the word literally and don’t literally mean it, it has become common to use language to accentuate our communication. This has caused some words to loose some of their meaning and emphasis as their used to describe more situations. One example is the word depression. Anyone who suffers from mental illness knows there is a difference between sadness and depression.
The Difference Between Sadness and Depression
When we are sad we can feel this emotion deeply. It is often a feeling evoked by circumstances in our lives or interactions with other people. Sad is defined as the feeling or showing of sorrow; unhappy. We can be unhappy or sad about a wide range of things. The key thing to note here is that your feelings are your own and are valid. No one can tell you that you don’t have the right to be sad about something. Sadness can lead to tears, anger, or can be the gateway to depression. It doesn’t always lead to depression though.
So if sadness can lead to depression why aren’t they the same? Depression is defined as feelings of severe state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage. The key thing to note here is severe and loss of hope. It is so much more than sadness. While sadness can be a component and depression can present with similar symptoms, not all people with depression feel sadness.
Depression is such a severe loss of hope that it feels like a black hole has consumed your emotions. Your mind feels hijacked and out of your own control. Many people with depression actually express having no feelings at all, not even sadness. It is a state that can be triggered by an event and brew or it can present itself when there is seemingly nothing wrong. The latter being very difficult for the person to deal with since they feel their feelings aren’t warranted. They often worry that something must be wrong with them if they feel this way.
Correcting the Stigma
It is a double edged sword to work towards more open conversation about depression and mental illness. Society works to have those who suffer feel understood and be able to openly discuss struggles. This also allows for words such as depression to hold less meaning.
Someone’s very show may be cancelled and they feel sad. This is normal to feel a loss for something you enjoy. To emphasis their point though they may use the incorrect word by saying, “I’m so depressed that show was cancelled.” This may not be the best use of the word. It is unlikely that the cancellation of a TV show has left them with a severe loss of hope. (Unless of course, they worked on that television show and lost their job.)
So as a society we need to work validate the emotions of those who suffer. We need to allow them a safe environment to discuss their feelings without minimizing what they are going through. People need to work harder to understand the difference between depression and sadness so they can use the proper terminology.
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