Are you "feeling sad" or "depressed"?

Depression or Sadness? Are you just “feeling sad” or “depressed”?

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Are you “feeling sad” or “depressed”? Depression can be dangerous because surprisingly, people suffering from depression are usually unaware of their depressive state. Most of them think it is not treatable. People are unaware because of lack of education about depression and other mental issues. Researches say people usually confused that they are suffering with depression or sadness.

Mental health issues are common in the world. 1 in 20 Indians suffers from depressive episodes, however, 1 in 5 American adult suffering with mental issues every year. Women are more likely to experience serious mental illness than men.

So, read this article if you are feeling sad or think, “i am very sad” or “i am so sad.

Community based WHO studies shows a treatment gap of 87.2–95.7% for depression in India.

However, for the first time in India, a mobile tele-psychiatry unit was commissioned by SCARF (Schizophrenia Research Foundation) with support from TATA Educational Trust.

This info-graphic will give a clear idea why it is important to understand depression?

Info-graphic for depression data in India
Info-graphic for depression data in India

How to diagnose depression?

If depressive state is diagnosed early then it can be cured more efficiently. The final diagnosis and treatment should be given by specialized medical professional only.

Sign for early detection of depressive state:

According to study, two questions should have been scored with a ‘YES’ to identify individuals might be at risk for depression. To confirm further assessment of depressive state is required.

1) During the past 4 weeks, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

2) During the past 4 weeks, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?

People with depression are more likely to die
People with depression are more likely to die

What statics says about depression?

Depression is projected as the second leading cause of disease burden on global level and third leading cause of disease burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by 2030.

The number of individuals with depression increased by an estimated 18.4% worldwide between year 2005 and 2015.

As per NMHS (2015-16) in India, one in 20 (5.25%) people over 18 years of age have ever suffered (at least once in their lifetime) from depressive episodes amounting to a total of over 45 million persons with depression in 2015.

India is home to an estimated 57 million people (18% of the global estimate) affected by it.

What is postpartum depression?

Depression includes a specific type of mood disorder which is postpartum depression. This is associated with childbirth. However, Being a mother after a long period of pregnancy followed by childbirth causes a variety of psychological, physiological and social consequences.

Attitude of an individual toward pregnancy and childbirth may vary in different culture. However, Evidences showed mothers of young infants experience depressive symptoms and 10-15% faces major depressive episodes.

The reported prevalence of postpartum depression in India ranges between 15.3% and 23.0%. Around 14% of mothers continue to have symptoms of depressive state till up to 6 months after delivery.

Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.

But, some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depressive state known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

Depression in different ages:

In children:

The overall prevalence rates of childhood depression in India vary anywhere between 0.3% to about 1.2%.

In adults:

The prevalence of depression among adults in India as observed in previous studies varies from 1.8% (severe) to 39.6% (mild to moderately severe), depending on study methods.


Asystematic review reported a median prevalence of 21.9% (IQR, 41 11.6–31.1%) for depression among the elderly in India.

What is depression?

In 10 % of the general population depression is estimated with lifetime prevalence. In clinical prevalence it may reach up to 20%.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders clarifies the criteria for diagnosis of depressive state. Its latest edition is fifth (DSM-5).

According to DSM 5, the diagnosis of a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) should have five or more symptoms to be present within a 2-week period. These symptoms are rated in an all or none (0 or 1) fashion.

Primary symptoms include at least one of the below two symptoms:

  1. A depressed mood (DM) or
  2. Anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure- LI)

The secondary symptoms of MDE are-

  1. Appetite or weight changes (AW)
  2. Sleep difficulties (insomnia or hypersomnia)
  3. Psychomotor agitation or retardation (PAR)
  4. Fatigue or loss of energy (FE)
  5. Diminished ability to think or concentrate (C)
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt (FW)
  7. Suicidality (SU)

What is sadness or feeling sad?

Generally, everyone feeling sad or feeling emotionally low in a certain situation triggered by any difficulty, unexpected hurting, loss, challenging environment etc.

Sadness is a human emotion and it is very normal to experience. But, sadness can be an initial sign and symptom of depression.

How to differentiate sadness and depression:

Sadness and depression often looks similar and confusing, because, in depression a person feel sad about everything.

Please go through the below points to understand the main difference-

A person with depression,

  • Unexpected feelings of helplessness, sadness, hopelessness, irritability etc that lasts for at least two weeks
  • Symptoms of insomnia or sometimes sleeping too much
  • Unstable movement like very slow or excited
  • Lack of interest in any activities which that person used to like
  • Suicidal ideation or thoughts of self harm

A person with sadness,

  • Feel down (sad) emotionally with no manic symptom
  • May able to eat and sleep as usual
  • Enjoy the activities with less interest
  • May overcome in few days or a couple of weeks
  • No suicidal thoughts

When you should be alert:

People with depression are 1.52 times more likely to die than the general population, probably due to their untreated mental or physical health problems

If you feel any of these changes then you should be alert and contact to a health care professional immediately. If your family member or friend showing these symptoms then also you should reach out to a mental health professional immediately.

Major depressive disorder is linked with high mortality rate, mostly included suicide.

So, you need to be aware for any of warning signs including statements like, “I don’t want to wake up again”, “I want to kill myself” etc. So, be careful if you listen these statements from your near and dear ones.

Vinay Dubey

A Health care professional and Pharmacologist with an aim of sharing my knowledge about health and lifestyle to everyone. Specially, I want to empower people from non medical background, with the knowledge that how daily lifestyle and medicines can affects their health. Also, to let them know how they can play an important role in the life cycle of a medicine.


  1. Very helpful information.. Thanks for sharing and making aware

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