The Difference Between Depression And Feeling Sad
There’s a massive difference between clinical depression and feeling sad. It’s actually important to make the distinction since ‘I’m depressed’ has become an integral part of the lexicon, something people say to express negativity in the face of all manner of unwanted happenings.
One of the major differences between clinical depression and feeling sad actually centers around the emotional output itself. We might define depression as the lack of feeling, the lack of being connected to life and people. This inability to turn towards life, this inability to feel motivated by life or to respond deeply to it, really cuts right to the core of what depression is from our existential point of view.
So in a paradoxical sense if you’re feeling really sad, if you’re negatively charged by this or that unwanted circumstance, this is a proof that you’re not depressed. What people who are depressed usually mourn, though they aren’t always able to conceptualize their grief as such, is exactly the ability to feel deeply. They can’t get really happy or really sad anymore because they can’t bring themselves to care about anything enough.
Therefore when you’re feeling sad, when you’re feeling down in the dumps, when those negative emotions are surging up in you, the path of mental health is to let yourself experience your existential state without censure or judgment. The human condition is inherently tragic. Though we all wish for positive, pleasant emotions all the time the wish is not realistic. When you’re plugged into life, when you care deeply about things, some stimuli are going to make you really happy and some are going to make you really sad.
But when you’re depressed the path of mental health is definitely not to let yourself continue to experience your existential state. The problem isn’t negative feeling but no feeling. The solution is discovering the necessary conditions to feel connected to life and people once again. Connection to life is an all or nothing affair in the sense explained above that you can’t cherry pick which emotions are going to arise out of this connection. Some will be pleasant and desirable while others will be unpleasant and undesirable.