It is easy to confuse depression and sadness. However these two words are not synonyms. To really understand the difference between the depression and sadness, we need to look into definition of depression first. So, what is depression?
Depression is an illness, a persistent medical condition that is a result of distorted thinking, i.e. not realistic thinking about certain events, like job loss, sickness or death. The example of that would be thinking that you can’t live without your spouse or believing you are a worthless loser after losing your job.
Unlike sadness, depression doesn’t have a time line – it is a persistent condition. In severe cases it can be a lifelong infliction. Another hallmark of depression is the loss of self-esteem.
Sadness, on the other hand, is a healthy condition, a normal reaction to upsetting events. What makes sadness different from depression is that there is no distortion in how you perceive the events. Sadness has its flow, it is not static like depression and it has its time limit. Sooner or later you will find yourself able to let go and the feeling of closure comes afterwards. Indeed, you might even feel that you became better, stronger and wiser. You might become more patient with others, more helpful and more humane. In fact, this sad event added sense of richness to your experience of life.
It is important to mention that depression is always triggered by unrealistic thinking and wrong perception of events. It occurs only when your filters are sufficiently distorted and you don’t perceive the events objectively. Once this happens the vicious cycle starts.
So despite your problems are real, there is no such a thing like depression without distorted thinking. If what you experience is not a healthy realistic response to upsetting events as described above and you are truly depressed, then you do have some distorted perceptions of yourself or events or both.
In psychology these distorted perceptions are called cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are exaggerated and unrealistic thinking about yourself, your self-worth, events, situation at hand or your future. If you manage to get rid of this kind of thinking, no matter how real your problem is, the pain will be less and you will be able to cope much more effectively. Here is your checklist:
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