A young woman was talking to a neighbor as she sat down at the curb in front of her house. “I am so depressed!”, she exclaimed. As I walked by I could hear the other neighbor ask her what was going on in her life. She talked about all of the losses she suddenly had gone through. She went from a concerned and upset face to an all out sob as she talked about the recent details of her life. I could tell by her sobbing clearly she was not depressed but grieving and sad from loss.
So many of us get the two confused. Let me make it easy on you to determine depression from sadness. Sadness expresses itself in tears, an open display of upset feelings, rivers of emotion and the need to get it out of our system. Depression is on the other side of the coin. Depression presses down and there is no expression of sadness. It’s rare to see a depressed person sobbing although it can happen as depression releases. Usually depression leads with a sense of having a ton of bricks on ones chest or a heaviness. Depression causes sleepless nights, too much sleeping, and a feeling like the world is sitting on one’s shoulders. Both can cause a sense of heartache but sadness from grief or loss causes open emotion.
Sadness is a sense of being broken open. Depression feels like being broken in silence and can be caused by being oppressed or shut down from within. Think of depression as a tree that neglects to shed its leaves in the fall. There will not be a release, nor new growth when the spring comes. sadness from grief or loss is a like a tree that sheds its leaves, releases, is watered, and will spring forth with new strength when the spring comes.
When depression occurs it can be quite painful. It will manifest in body aches, loss of appetite, a sense of hopelessness, and the inability to emote ones feelings. Those who endure this from 2-3 weeks or longer are said to be clinically depressed. This can be brief or even a lifelong struggle. The word depression is often used very loosely but it can be very serious and sometimes even deadly. More people die from suicide due to depression than heart attacks. This is how important expression of our emotions truly can be.
We are meant to express sadness and emotion. Don’t ever feel bad for crying or allowing feelings to break loose. Your period of sadness will pass because feelings are opened up and are allowed air to heal. Depression can last a long time and seal in soul scars so tightly they are hard to pry loose.
We all go through seasons of sadness and even depression. Every person has had at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. Also, remember, sadness is a part of life. Without the tears we shed there would be no healing from the effects of this anxiety filled world we live in. Both deep saddness and depression can be places that feel very dark, but remember they are only opportunities to eventually see how glorious the light of life truly is! How much more can we appreciate the great things in life after having had experienced the hard things?
Remember this beloved. You will overcome! You have God-given life coursing through your veins and that reality will always assure you healing when you need it!
Loving you from here,
Dr. Jenine Marie Howry