Because one in six people will experience depression at some point in their lives, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. It is also highly treatable. But because our language is imprecise, knowing what depression is and is not can be confusing.
Depression is not the same as sadness, but sadness is a symptom of depression. Sadness is an appropriate response to loss or grief, where sadness comes in waves and dissipates over time. The sadness of depression, however, does not go away. And along with the sadness, depression frequently includes feelings of worthlessness or loss of self-esteem.
It’s also essential to understand that depression is a real illness, not a choice you make to be unhappy. You can’t choose your way out of being depressed any more than you can choose not to be diabetic. Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum, treatment is available.