• advertisement

Our Mental Health Blogs

Depression Is Not Sadness

There is a popular misconception that depression is the same thing as sadness. I understand why you might think this if you don’t have experience with depression. Depression is sad; it’s true. But depression is a lot of other things as well. It’s a whole new echelon of sadness. It’s sadness 2.0.

This morning is a good example – I woke up depressed and the experience is nothing like sadness.

Sadness

We all experience sadness. Sadness is a normal, human emotion. It’s simply the expression of unhappiness or grief. We all need to do this as we move through life. Sadness has a cause even if we can’t initially pinpoint it. Sadness has a beginning and an end.

Depression

We do not all experience depression. Depression, I would argue, it not a normal human emotion. Depression is the expression of extreme pain. Depression often occurs without cause. Depression has no defined end point.

little boy crying

Morning Depression

I woke up this morning with depression thick around my neck. I lay on the dark chocolate brown sheets of my bed knowing it was going to seem impossible to move my muscles. My cat was crying outside my door for breakfast but even his plaintive mews didn’t make the idea of moving very convincing.

Once vertical, I realized I wanted to eat ice cream. I always want to eat ice cream when I feel terrible. My brain thinks it will make me feel better, even though, of course, it won’t. My cat got fed as I silently admonished him for his whining and I got peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, coffee and water – my typical breakfast.

After about three crackers I found myself awash in tears, agony standing on my chest.

I had been awake for 20 minutes.

Depression is not Sadness

I was not sad. I was broken-hearted. Shattered-souled. “Sad” is a tiny word that is an order of magnitude off from how I felt.

Because depression isn’t about sadness. Depression is about pain. Unrelenting, unending, boundless, merciless pain.

There’s no reason for how I felt. There’s nothing wrong. My life is the same as it was last night. And yesterday. And the day before that. Everything aligned as normal as can be. But depression couldn’t care less about that. It’s a disease. It’s a disease that exerts pain. It doesn’t need a reason.

The people who think depression is the same as sadness are simply people who have never been chained to the ocean floor condemned to drown, over and over.

Sadness is normal. Depression is not.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Depression Is Not Sadness”

  1. I am so thankful that I found this blog!!
    I am so depressed I can’t even type what I want to tell you all.
    Maybe tomorrow.
    Just wanted to say how glad I am I stumbled upon you all!

    Karyn

  2. Awesome description… especially liked “agony standing on my chest”. The description of the very physical feeling that you are being crushed is sooo apt. I often feel my chest is being crushed — what I feel is my heart ache. I find myself feeling totally hopeless and alone, and waiting for this life to be over so I can go on to the next. The only thing that helps me is to think about all the people in the world who are so incredibly worse off than I am. Of course, that sometimes leads me to feeling guilty…

  3. Hi Shanon,

    Many of us have spent ours trying to explain this difference, you’re not alone there.

    Maybe reading this to them might help? Sometimes the words of another resonates in a different way.

    – Natasha

  4. Thank you for explaining the difference between sadness and depression. I have spent many hours trying to explain to my loved ones how I feel and whats going on in my mind. I’ve had to say over and over it was not something that was done to me or a reaction of any sort it is a disease plan and simple and this is a symptom. a painful paralizing symptom.

  5. Hi Anamica,

    I’m sorry you have felt such pain, but I hope seeing that others go through it too will bring some comfort. Knowing you’re not alone helps many people.

    – Natasha

  6. Hi Ashavan,

    “Sometimes I think that’s a dangerous thought though. Even though it’s not forever, and I’ll end up in hypomania or stable again eventually, it doesn’t mean it won’t come back. In fact, having bipolar, I *know* it will return eventually, and I’ll be stuck in this agony again.”

    Yes, I understand that.

    My personal view is to pretend to forget. Not denial, exactly, because that, too, can be dangerous, but just sort of pretend that reality isn’t there.

    As I’ve said, it’s crucial to watch out for warning signs, but I also think we need moments where we can just enjoy where we are. It’s a hard balance because as you said, you know the mood will swing around again.

    – Natasha

  7. Hi Dianne,

    I’m so sorry to hear you are having legal trouble. I have no knowledge in this field, the only thing I can recommend is to get a lawyer who is familiar with mental health issues because a mental illness is an _illness_ and you cannot be discriminated against because of it. Hopefully a lawyer can successfully make that argument for you.

    Good luck.

    – Natasha

  8. You described how depression feels exactly. I am dealing with depression for quite a few years now on and off. No matter what I do I can’t seem to come out of it. Mainly I withdraw from people around me when I am depressed, it is difficult for family and friends. The pain is endless and its emotional that often has no reason. You defined it so beautifully. Thank you so much for putting my pain and feelings in perfect words

  9. You described how depression feels exactly. I am dealing with depression for quite a few years now on and off. No matter what I do I can’t seem to come out of it. Mainly i withdraw from people around me when I am depressed, it is difficult for family and friends. The pain is endless and its emotional that often no reason. You defined it so beautifully. Thank you so much for putting my pain and feelings in perfect words.

  10. Natasha, I feel the pain you described so eloquently and would like to say that I hope your depression lifted in the days that have passed. I’m working off some depression with a mix of severe anxiety which again led me to speak hurting words to people I love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Follow Us

Subscribe to Blog

  • advertisement

in Breaking Bipolar Comments

Mental Health Newsletter

Sign up for the HealthyPlace mental health newsletter for latest news, articles, events.

Mental Health
Newsletter Subscribe Now!

Mental Health Newsletter

Sign up for the HealthyPlace mental health newsletter for latest news, articles, events.

Log in

Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me