5 Signs You’re Clinically Depressed, not Sad

Everyone feels sad from time to time. Sadness is a part of being human, and a part of being alive. However, it is also possible to feel a different type of sadness—one that seeps into every aspect of your life; and refuses to go away, in spite of your best efforts.

Have you been feeling a sadness similar to this? If these resonate with you, you may be struggling with clinical depression. It is important to pay attention to signs that you may be going through this in order to best seek the appropriate help to help you move forward.

The signs listed in this article were taken from sources that cite symptoms of depression based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013), namely: WebMD (n.d.); the National Institute of Mental Health (2018); the American Psychiatric Association (n.d.); and an article published in PubMed Central (Kanter, Busch, Weeks & Landes, 2008). 

This article is not intended to diagnose or self-treat. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

Here are 5 signs you’re clinically depressed, not sad. 

1. Persistent sadness

As previously mentioned, it is normal to experience sadness every now and then. But it is important to pay attention to what you are feeling, as well as how persistent your feelings are.

Do you constantly feel sad, anxious, “numb” or “empty”? Is your sadness intermingled with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt? 

Have you been feeling this way for most of the day, nearly every day, and for at least two weeks now? If so, you may be clinically depressed, rather than simply sad.

2. Loss of interest

Have you lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy? Maybe you normally love to sing or draw, but neither of those seem to be fun for you these days? 

It is one thing to feel down, and another to lose interest in all or most of your favorite activities. Are you unable to find pleasure in these things, even when you try to enjoy yourself? Have you been feeling this way for most of the day, nearly every day? If so, you could be falling into a depression.

3. Difficulty concentrating

Has it been difficult for you to concentrate lately? Perhaps you’ve been having trouble focusing on school or office work, or even simple tasks at home. In addition to this, you may have also been more indecisive than usual, and find it harder to make daily choices. 

If you experience these nearly every day, you may be clinically depressed—and your depression may be interfering with your daily tasks.

4. Sleep, appetite, aches

Depression doesn’t just affect thoughts and emotions. It can have physical effects on you, as well. Have you noticed changes in your body lately? 

Perhaps you’ve been struggling with headaches, body pains, cramps, stomach aches, or digestive problems that just won’t go away, or that you can’t precisely pinpoint the cause of.

Have you been losing or gaining a significant amount of weight? Due to depression, you may have been eating a lot more, or a lot less than you used to. Perhaps you have been unable to sleep properly in spite of feeling fatigued. All of these changes can occur as a part of clinical depression.

5. Suicidal thoughts 

One critical sign that your sadness is a part of a deeper, clinical depression is that you are having recurring thoughts of death. You might have considered or planned out a suicide—

you may have even attempted it.

If you have been struggling with this, please seek help from a qualified professional as soon as possible.

Concluding Remarks

According to the DSM (DSM-5, 2013), to be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in your social life, work or school, or other important aspects of life. Symptoms can vary in severity and frequency, depending on the individual. You may experience most of these signs, or perhaps only a few, but more urgent concerns.

For these reasons, it is important to reach out to a professional for a complete diagnosis. If you or anyone you know could be struggling with depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified mental health care provider.

If you are feeling depressed or contemplating suicide please remember that you are not alone.

Suicide Hotlines:

  • America: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Canada: 1-866-531-2600
  • Australia: 13 11 14
  • United Kingdom: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90
  • Beijing: 0800-810-1117
  • Hong Kong: +852 28 960 000
  • Japan/Tokyo: 81 (0) 3 5286 9090
  • Philippines: +63 2 8893 7603 or +63 917 800 1123
  • Brazil: 55 11 31514109 or (91) 3223-0074
  • Mexico: 9453777
  • Malaysia: 03-76272929
  • Germany: 0800 111 0 111
  • Russia: (495) 625 3101
  • India: 91-22-27546669
  • Iran: 1480
  • South Africa: 0800 12 13 14

This is only a short list of a few countries. However, there is always somebody to reach out to.


Bruce, D. F. (n.d.). Signs of clinical depression: Symptoms to watch for. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression. 

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.​

Kanter, J. W., Busch, A. M., Weeks, C. E., & Landes, S. J. (2008). The nature of clinical depression: Symptoms, syndromes, and behavior analysis. The Behavior Analyst, 31(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf03392158 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, February). Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression. What Is Depression? American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.

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