In my years of private practice, I’ve met many people struggling withdepression who thought they were merely sad. I’ve also met many people who were extremely sad and worried they might be depressed. Because we associate depression with its primary symptom of pervasive sadness, many of us struggle to tell the difference between these two common psychological states.
This is a huge problem.
Our confusion can lead us to neglect a serious condition that requires treatment (depression) or, on the other end of the spectrum, overreactto a normative emotional state (sadness). And here’s why the distinction is crucial: If we (or a loved one) are depressed, it has huge implications for our long-term mental health, physical health, and longevity.