How is depression different from sadness?

Answered by: David Kahn

Sadness follows losses or disappointments, and is a normal part of any fully lived life. Healthy people eventually rebound, and apart from periods of grief or mourning rarely cease functioning in daily activities.

Moreover, healthy people do not tend to blame themselves for the normal losses of life, whereas depressed people often feel undue guilt or self-criticism.

Finally, individuals with depression often experience marked sadness in the absence of any cause, whereas healthy individuals have moods that relate more to life experiences, and moods that are in proportion to the intensity of those experiences.

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David Kahn, M.D.

David A. Kahn, M.D.

Dr. Kahn is the Diane Goldman Kemper Family Clinical Professor of Pyschiatry Emeritus, Columbia University Medical Center; and attending psychiatrist, New York Presbyterian Hospital.

He received his B.A. from Haverford College in 1975, completed medical school and internship in medicine at Columbia, and was resident and chief resident in psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He then received an NIMH extramural research fellowship at the Psychiatric Institute, where he worked in the area of mood disord...
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