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It’s difficult to understand our feelings when traumatic events happen in our lives, and it’s common for people to mistake feelings of sadness as depression when stressful situations occur. Though sadness is a symptom of depression, there are characteristics of typical sadness and depressive sadness that people should know to fully understand their own emotional experiences. Here’s some important information about sadness and depression if you’re struggling with life transition or stressor.

What is Sadness?

Sadness is a temporary state of despair, and feeling sad is a healthy response to a crisis or disappointing event. Often, sadness links to a specific trigger and will entail moments of improved mood that come and go in waves. Feeling sad is a typical adaptive response to stressful situations, and people can usually find some relief from crying, venting, or talking out frustrations.

Sadness generally doesn’t lead to extreme changes in behavior compared to depression. Sadness may affect one’s interests in aspects of daily life, but these effects don’t tend to persist like depression symptoms. It’s normal to experience sadness following a crisis or disturbing event. It’s part of the human experience and usually cites the beginning of overcoming a life stressor.

What is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks, and acts. The illness brings long-lasting symptoms that influence various areas of one’s daily life, self-care, and perceptions that sadness often doesn’t reach. While a sad mood is a barrier that one can usually tackle on their own, depression is a beast that typically requires professional help to overcome.

Depression is multifaceted and understanding the causes can be just as complex as the symptoms themselves. It’s common for depression to appear after a trauma or event, and there are a variety of possibilities for what may be causing one’s depression. Sometimes the cause can be pinpointed, and other times there is none.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

The symptom of sadness in depression differs from non-depressive sadness in its severity and longevity. Symptoms must last at least two weeks and represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression. Depressive sadness also negatively impacts one’s daily functioning and is more debilitating than a typical sad mood.

Depression Treatments

Thankfully, there is plenty of hope for depression recovery. Below are three solutions to combat depression:

Therapy and Medication

Therapy and antidepressant medication are two of the most common treatments for depression, and they’re often used in coordination with one another to tackle multiple causes or symptoms of depression. The most common kind of talk therapy is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which centers on thinking patterns and cognitive skills. CBT is used to develop healthier coping mechanisms, use problem-solving skills, and learn to recognize their own cognitive distortions. This therapy focuses on moving forward and learning to manage one’s depression independently.

Antidepressant medications are also used to reduce the chemical imbalances and functional errors in the brain that cause depression. There are many different kinds of antidepressants, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This is the most common type of antidepressant, and the type with the least side effects.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Similar to SSRIs, but not exactly the same. Some respond better to SNRIs than SSRIs, but one is not always more effective than the other.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Often prescribed after SSRIs or SNRIs have been tried, TCAs are an older antidepressant treatment. They are sometimes recommended for treating other mental illnesses, like OCD or bipolar disorder.

Antidepressants are prescribed by a doctor and can be used as a short or long-term solution for depression.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

If you’ve tried antidepressants but haven’t found success, other treatment options available. One safe and effective treatment is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is designed to treat depression, OCD, and other common disorders safely and effectively. TMS works by emitting gentle magnetic pulses to the area of the brain that regulates mood. These pulses activate specific areas of the brain and decrease symptoms of depression.

TMS does not require anesthesia, hospitalization, and has no systemic side effects. During the 20-minute treatment session, patients are awake and sit in a comfortable chair, and they are able to drive home after treatment. TMS is FDA approved and is covered by most insurance.

TMS has a high success rate for patients with treatment-resistant depression and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Even in cases where medications are not effective, TMS can help you overcome symptoms and experience the best version of yourself.

Psychedelic Therapy

Ketamine is the most-studied psychedelic drug for mental health therapy. In low doses, it has shown to be beneficial in numerous trials exploring its potential to treat depression. Traditional medications often take several weeks to work, or may only work for as long as a person takes them. Most research on psychedelic therapy, by contrast, has found an immediate improvement, sometimes with a single dose.

Relief Mental Health is proud to offer SPRAVATO® (esketamine), the first and only NMDA receptor antagonist approved for adults with treatment resistant depression. It’s administered under medical supervision in a therapeutic room, and your physical and mental health are expertly monitored during care. Psychedelic therapy demonstrates consistent safety across indications and can only be administered in a certified healthcare setting. Relief Mental Health is an REMS-certified provider of SPRAVATO® for people with treatment-resistant depression.

SPRAVATO® can be used in conjunction with TMS treatment, antidepressants, and psychotherapy. Most patients engage in more than one form of treatment while to achieve optimal health.

If you suffer from depression, don’t lose hope! With the right treatment plan, you can conquer your depression and feel happy again. Relief Mental Health can help you get to a better place. Call us at 630-974-6602 or via the form below to learn more about the right treatment option for you.

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