two embracing teddy bears | difference between sadness and depression

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—Olivia C.*, California State University, Northridge

Sometimes we just feel blah. Nothing seems to be going right and all we want to do is crawl into bed and get away from life for a while. Maybe you got into an argument with your parents or a friend did you wrong. Perhaps it’s a breakup or your grades aren’t where you want them to be. It feels like there are bad things happening everywhere and you just can’t keep up with it all.

Sad feelings are a part of life. It’s natural to not feel good about the outcome when things don’t go how you’d hoped. It’s also natural to not feel good for no reason at all sometimes. A funky mood can come and go, and we can learn to move through it and know that a better day is coming.

But what if the better day takes a long time to come? What if the bad moods outweigh the good? How do you know if it’s time to talk to a professional and get help?

That’s when it could be clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, a medical condition that’s treatable. This goes beyond the typical up-and-down sad feelings you might experience. Often, these symptoms last two weeks or more and include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression won’t go away on its own. If you’re feeling like your sad feelings are sticking around or getting worse, look for a therapist or counselor at your school or in your community. You can also speak with your primary care doctor about medications to help you feel better.

If you aren’t ready to meet someone in person just yet, you can speak to someone via a hotline such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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