Difference Between Sadness and Depression

You may have heard from a lot of people these days that “I’m depressed”. There is a difference between sadness and depression. Just feeling sad is not depression. This is a mental illness and only a trained psychiatrist/psychologist can diagnose it. It is not appropriate to label yourself or others as depressed without knowing about this illness. We can guide you a bit about this illness. Let’s start with sadness.


Sadness is a basic, natural emotion. It is characterized by unhappiness, despair, sorrow, disappointment, loss, and helplessness. It is the emotional pain we feel when something bad happens. Everyone in life feels it when there are hard times or if someone lost something precious. It is absolutely normal to feel sad over something unpleasant. The feeling of sadness is temporary and goes away with time. However, if it prevails for a long time and disturbs the quality of life, then it is problematic as it can lead to depression and other mental health issues.


Depression is a serious medical condition that needs treatment as soon as possible. If depression remains untreated for a long time, the person with depression can end his/her life by committing suicide. Depression is also known as Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder.

Depression is a Mood Disorder as it is caused by the changes in chemicals of the brain responsible for our moods and emotions. As mentioned in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (5th edition)”, Mood Disorders are of several types. They are broadly classified into two main categories:

  • Bipolar and related disorders
  • Depressive disorders.
  • Bipolar and Related Disorders
  • Bipolar I Disorder
  • Bipolar II Disorder
  • Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and Related Disorder
  • Bipolar and Related Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
  • Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorder
  • Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder, Single and Recurrent Episodes
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder
  • Depressive Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
  • Other Specified Depressive Disorder
  • Unspecified Depressive Disorder

If we talk about Major Depressive Disorder, it has a certain criterion for diagnosis. That criterion must be present for at least 2 weeks to be considered a depressive episode.


Out of the following 9 symptoms, 5 must be present. The depressed mood or loss of interest must be included in the 5 symptoms to be diagnosed with depression.

  1. Depressed mood (sadness) most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Lacking interest in most of the activities of the day, every day. Decreased/lost interest/pleasure in those things/activities which one used to enjoy or were pleasurable.
  3. Changes in weight or appetite
  4. Changes in sleep pattern
  5. Less activity/movement or slowing down
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy all day or feelings of tiredness most of the day, every day
  7. Feelings of guilt or low self-esteem or lacking self-worth
  8. Decreased ability to think/concentrate clearly or unable to make decisions
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm

As depression is an illness, it cannot be labeled without a proper diagnosis. It needs treatment as without treatment the symptoms get worsen over time. Sadness is a part of depression but not a disorder as a whole.

There is one more thing known as “Bereavement” and you should know about it too. It is a condition that has a lot of similarities with depression.


Bereavement is a painful time of sadness when one lost someone or a relation. When someone’s loved one died or someone gets divorced or faced a breakup in a relationship, they are in a period of bereavement. Losing someone creates a void in their life. In that period of bereavement, a person is struggling to get back to normal life without that loved one or that relationship. A person in the state of bereavement can act like a person who is in depression, but it is not depression. Slowly and gradually people come out of bereavement, but it takes time.

Bereavement and depression can co-exist and it is an extremely painful situation as the symptoms are worse at that time.

Addiction and Depression:

Depression can lead to addiction or addiction can lead to depression. They can also co-exist at the same time. At PRC Rehabilitation Center Karachi, we treat clients who suffer from addiction with love, care, and respect.


Depression and other mental health problems need professional help. They cannot be treated with home remedies such as getting married, going abroad, or getting a new job. Disorders and illnesses need treatments and not some homey tips. Treatment of depression can be done through medication or by counseling/psychotherapy by trained mental health professionals.


If any of your loved ones are struggling with depression or other mental health problems, you can refer them to PRC Clifton Karachi. At Parvarish Recovery Center, a well-trained team of professionals helps people with addiction and mental health issues. For more information regarding our services feel free to call 0341-1959599 or visit our centers.

Scroll to Top