There’s a fine line between sad and depressed – and it’s important we know the difference

Everyone feels down from time to time. Unfortunately that’s just a part of life! But it’s important we’re able to recognise when feeling down could actually be part of a bigger problem, so we can tackle it.

We are currently living in a world of labels and one such label that we hear very often is ‘depressed’. Depression isn’t a joke, nor is it an excuse. People who are truly depressed need medical attention to help them manage their symptoms and feelings.

The problem is that people often mistake sadness for depression, and vice versa. But for our own wellbeing it’s vital that we don’t get confused between the two.

Recognising the difference

The confusion between the two has previously prevented people from seeking treatment. They don’t believe that they could be truly depressed, or they don’t want to acknowledge that this is the case. And this is understandable, after all, most of us want to appear (at least to those around us) as happy and together.

Often people brush off the symptoms of depression believing they’re overreacting, being dramatic or simply exaggerating how they feel. The thing is, the pervasive sadness that occurs with depression is different to regular, everyday sadness.

Normal sadness happens to be a dip in a regular day, but you can lift yourself back up again pretty easily. If we continue to confuse the two, those who are truly suffering might not seek or receive the treatment they need.

So, what’s the difference between feeling down and being depressed?


A normal, human emotion, sadness is something that everyone has experienced at least once. People use tools like exercise or self-care to get through the lull, taking themselves shopping to feel good about themselves.

It’s triggered by an event in life that can be difficult and stressful, because sadness is defined by something we have to feel for – something to be sad about. Fortunately, sadness recedes when the event passes.


An abnormal state of mind, depression is so much deeper than sadness. It is classified as a mental illness and it affects the way that we think, the way we act and the way that we feel. There is nothing to necessarily feel ‘down’ about in the same way sadness happens with an event, depression can occur just waking up for the day.

In these circumstances, those who suffer can try things like acupuncture, meditation or natural medicines such as those from But what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. There doesn’t necessarily need a trigger for depression, and it’s not a black and white illness to deal with, which is why it’s so confusing.

Dealing with depression

If you think the low feelings that you are coping with could be more than just dealing with everyday life stress, then you shouldn’t wait to get help. People aren’t going to call you dramatic or over the top for asking, especially now the topic is being talked about more and more.

It’s better to ask for help, list your symptoms and get the right direction, than to leave it and become consumed by this illness. It’s important that you don’t think of yourself as labelled; labels may be around, but it’s not something to be ashamed of.