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Just Sadness or Depression?: 5 Ways to Tell the Difference.

Depressed Woman

We all have those days. You feel down, sad, maybe want to stay in bed a little longer. But how do you know if you're just having an "off" day or something more is going on? How do you know if it's time to reach out for help? 

Here are a 5 ways to know the difference between sadness and depression:

1. You have trouble getting out of bed. 

Getting some extra sleep isn't always a bad thing. But if you find yourself having trouble getting out of bed most days of the week, it's time to seek help from your doctor and maybe a counselor. 

2. You feel sad at least four or five days of the week.

Sadness is a normal human emotion. A relationship ending, a family member passing away, or losing a job we really loved can all produce some pretty heavy feelings of sadness. But, when that sadness begins to take over most of your day, most days of the week it's time to get some help. Seeing a counselor is a great way to get help in sorting through how you're feeling. 

3. You have trouble concentrating or making decisions.

Feeling sad can wreak havoc on anyone's decision making process. But, when you find it impossible to make a decision on your own or can't concentrate on even the smallest of tasks, depression may be making it's grand entrance. Get to a doctor or counselor right a way. 

4. Your social life becomes non-existent.

Sometimes feeling sad means we want to spend some time alone. If you find yourself wanting time alone more often than not, this might be a sign you're isolating. Isolating yourself to keep from passing on a cold is one thing, but isolating yourself because of feeling sad is a good sign depression might be creeping its way in. 

5. You find yourself using alcohol or other drugs to feel better.

We've all seen it in the movies, on our favorite t.v. show, or even in our own family. Someone goes through a difficult situation, loses their job, or breaks-up with the girl/guy of their dreams and the first thing they do is grab a drink or they have one night of a lot of drinking and get really drunk. Waking up the next day with a lot of regrets and a gnarly hangover. For those of us who don't live in a Hollywood movie, the consequences to drinking alcohol, or using drugs, to manage our feelings of sadness can lead to a lot more than a hangover the next day. Using mind or mood-altering substances to deal with your feelings can lead to addiction, and fast. If you find you are drinking more than a few drinks (2) a few days a week, you may be on your way to a substance abuse problem. It's important to recognize there may be an issue and to contact your doctor or a treatment center right away. 

Depression doesn't always appear suddenly. Most times, depression comes on slowly, one symptom at a time. Seeing a doctor and talking to a counselor, as early as possible, is the best way to make sure your symptoms don't get worse. 

If you or a friend think you need help or have more questions, contact Lexie here to get pointed in the right direction. 

**If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life, call 9-1-1 right away for immediate emergency help. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week)** 

About the Author: Hi I'm Alexie (Lexie) Belle. I'm a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I'm also a wife, a mommy to three great kids, a Christ follower, and a food allergy mom.  I provide counseling and therapy to women and teenage girls who struggle with depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, and food allergy related anxiety.  If you have any questions about what you've read, feel free to send me an email to or call 561·600·8764. 

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