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depression Why we get depressed and differences with sadness

Being depressed is not being sad. These days we hear a lot about depression. Last Friday was World Depression Day and this Monday, known as Blue Monday or “the saddest Monday of the year”. With Christmas already almost forgotten, a few months ahead with almost no holidays or vacations, winter and the short, cold days, this week is perceived as one of those in which it is difficult to go back. If we add to this that in Spain alone more than two million people suffer from depression problems, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE) and that these figures have not stopped increasing since the pandemic, today we dedicate our entry on the blog to find out some of the causes of this disease, from the professionals of the Ribera health group, and also the differences with sadness.

This weekend, Dr. Jorge Begazo, a psychiatrist at the Santo Domingo Clinic, linked to the Ribera Polusa hospital, explained that in recent years, at a social level, many changes are being experienced that represent a major challenge for the our reality”. An increasingly dizzying day to day, which barely gives time to assimilate changes, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its global consequences can affect, above all, “those people who have difficulty facing certain frustration, few personal resources to in the register of emotions, little social or family support network or with a complicated type of work”.

How to distinguish between depression and sadness

Lorena Cerezo, clinical psychologist at the Department of Health in Dénia explains that the depression “it is a mental health condition that requires the sadness to last over time – more than two weeks – and that other symptoms appear such as the inability to enjoy, weight loss or gain, changes in sleep, fatigue or loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt and hopelessness or recurrent thoughts of death”.

The sadness, for her part, adds this same professional, “it is one of the basic emotions of the human being, necessary and adaptive”. “Feeling sadness is natural, as it allows you to express psychological, physical or emotional pain”, explains Lorena, and it appears in the face of losses and changes, so many situations in everyday life can generate this emotion, related to work , family life, separations, deaths or illnesses, among others. And sadness can also affect our physical health in the form of pain, muscle tension, headaches or digestive symptoms.

But insists this professional from the Department of Health of Dénia, which manages the Ribera health group, that in order to diagnose a depression, “it has been verified that the patient’s daily, work and social activities are indeed affected, there is a marked difficulty in taking care of oneself and others and there is a tendency towards isolation”. “Many times there is a difficulty in putting a name to what is being felt, which is why asking for help is complicated”, he explains, while remembering that those around him “tend to convey to them that they are no longer who they were before, as if they had given him the OFF and run out of energy”.

Can sadness lead to depression?

Paula Marcos Carregal, clinical psychologist at the Ribera Juan Cardona Hospital (Ferrol), agrees with her colleague from Dénia. “The sadnesslike the rest of the emotions, it becomes a mental health problem, when it goes to the extremes of time and space, when it lasts for a long time and invades all the spaces of our life, leaving- unable to enjoy the objectively positive things that make us happy”.

Dr. Luis Fabian Mahecha, head of the Mental Health Service at the Vinalopó University Hospital, insists that depression “is a disease” and, as such, “the symptoms are more intense and limiting, they can interfere in all aspects of life, cause great inability to do everyday activities and be recurrent, reaching a point where they appear without apparent cause”. On the other hand, sadness, he recalls, “is a transitory state of emotional discomfort, which is usually preceded by difficult situations in life, and is therefore not considered a mental disorder”.

But attention Like the two fellow clinical psychologists, Dr. Mahecha recalls that “there are cases in which sadness maintained over time can trigger depression.”

Doctor Helena Díaz Moreno, head of the Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology Service at the Torrejón University Hospital, gives some more keys to detect depression in someone close to you. “Depression is a serious psychopathological picture, which includes several symptoms. In addition to sadness, irritability, apathy, abulia, hopelessness, lack of sexual appetite, loss of appetite, feelings of low personal worth, tendency to self-abandonment, frequent crying, among others”, he says. And that’s why he concludes: “Sadness, in high intensity, would only be a symptom of depression. Feeling sad and being depressed are NOT synonymous”.

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