5 Ways To Know If You Are Depressed Or Just Feeling Sad

ways to know if you are depressed or sad

Many of us, when we are feeling down about our lives or ourselves, wonder if we are depressed or just sad? Should we be worried about our mood or should we just ride it out?’

There is a fine line between being sad and being depressed. Knowing the differences is key to knowing how to manage and treat how you are feeling.

While there are many different variations of depression, there are two fundamental forms. Chemical depression, depression caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, one that is often genetic or the result of trauma. Situational depression is usually a short-term sadness, often brought on by a life event.

Which one are you struggling with? There are some way to tell. Here are 5 of them.

Here Are 5 Ways To Know If You Are Depressed Or Just Sad

1. Has Something Happened?

One way to tell if you are depressed or just sad is to consider what is happening in your life right now.

Has your dog died? Is a parent sick? Have you lost your job? Did you have a car accident?

Sometimes, life events happen that make us feel overwhelmed and sad. It happens. And the result of those life events can cause situational depression, a short-term feeling of depression, one that feels bad but will most likely pass.

The key thing to ask yourself, if you are wondering if you are depressed or just sad, is if you felt this way before this thing, or things, happened or did your mood change because of the event. If you were fine before the event happened, then you are most likely just sad and the depression will pass with time.

If you were feeling this way before, you just might be dealing with chemical depression so read on!

Related: The Fundamental Differences between Sadness and Depression

2. Have You Been Feeling Down For A While?

Of course, after your dog dies, you are going to feel sad for a while. Just looking at the chair that they slept on can send you down into a dark hole. But, with time, while the pain and sadness are still there, it will ease and you will be able to go on with your life.

If you find that you aren’t feeling better with time but in fact are feeling the same or worse, then it could be that you are dealing with chemical depression. A depression caused by something more systemic than a life event.

So, try to look back on the past few days, weeks, months and years and see where your moods have been. Have you been up and down, as life throws its curveballs at you, or do you find that you have been down more often than up?

If you can’t remember how the past period of time has been, start keeping a mood chart. Keep track, on a daily basis, how your mood is.

On a scale of 1-10, keep track of where your mood is each day, 10 being great, 1 being horrible. This way, you will have a record of your moods and you can watch what happens to them.

If you are consistently below a 5, then that’s a piece of information. If you are up and down the whole spectrum, that’s another piece of information.

You can use this information to help yourself, or your doctor or your friends, understand what is happening with your moods so that you can figure out how to deal with them.


3. Are You Feeling Hopeless?

The hallmark of chemical depression is hopelessness. That feeling that you will never be happy again, that you will never love or be loved, that life isn’t worth living and why should you even bother, anyway. I am not saying you are suicidal (although you might be) but you are definitely questioning everything that life has to offer.

When we are struggling with sadness, with situational depression, generally our outlook isn’t hopelessness. When my dog died, I was sad but I didn’t struggle with questioning my life or examining my choices. I was just sad that she wasn’t here with me and I missed her. I miss her still but now I have a cat and I am happy.

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Mitzi Bockmann

I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.View Author posts