Depression Compared to Sadness

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You have and will experience sadness. It might be the loss of a job, pet or a loved one. Yes, even a loved one. The trouble is, particularly here in the United States, we have a quick-fix for everything... why not sadness too?

Our quick-fix for sadness is that it's simply not allowed. Healthy purging of sad feelings is great for you physically and wonderful for your mental health. When you stuff the expression of healthy sadness it may lead to health problems, interpersonal issues and depression.

So, the first lesson to learn is FEEL your sadness over whatever issue is at hand. It doesn't make you weak or less a man or woman to do so. Yes, I have to say "woman" today too, because women have also begun to place the same negative meaning on expressing feelings of sadness; so they hold back too.

There are Five Basic Stages you will go through with any significant change or loss in your life. They are:

  1. Shock/Denial

  2. Anger

  3. Asking "What if..." questions or making "If only" statements.

  4. Sadness

  5. Acceptance

Please keep in mind several points about the five statements made above. First, each one is NORMAL! You may cycle through the steps several times and may not do so in the order listed above.

The only time these steps become a problem is when you become stuck at a particular step. Here's an example.

I met a woman about a year ago. She'd been married over 25 years. She and her husband were planning on traveling after he retired. He died within a year of retirement from cancer. She came to see me three years after his death.

She had become stuck at step 3 above. She questioned, over and over again, whether she had done everything she could for him and all their family during those last days before his death. After about a year of ruminating minute-by-minute, she became quite seriously depressed. Then later, she was referred to me by her physician.

We worked through her questions from step 3. She then went through a normal period of being angry over the loss of her husband and how that had changed her life and retirement plans. She felt appropriately sad about the loss of her best friend.

She's not terribly happy about working, but she's been working full-time now for about six months. She is hoping to begin dating. She's insecure about it. "It's been so long since I've dated!" She quips. But, she is on her way to a new life and her level of acceptance is growing each day.

Other times depression may set in from a traumatic event, or a series of negative life events that overlap and overwhelm your usual ability to cope. If this is you, you are often bewildered as to why you can't simply shake out of it as you normally would. Or if it was a trauma event, you will often find that simple security issues (e.g., walking out into a dark parking lot at night after shopping) will trigger panic and later deep depression. Sudden trauma threatens your sense of general safety in the world at large. 

If you are wondering if you have Major Depression here are some guidelines to help you figure it out. For the best possible solution please seek professional evaluation. I offer professional consultation for individuals through email, making this step easy and convenient.


  1. Depressed mood nearly every day.

  2. Diminished interest in regular activities.

  3. Significant weight loss or weight gain.

  4. Sleeping difficulties.

  5. A feeling of being "slowed down."

  6. Fatigue and energy loss nearly every day.

  7. Feeling worthless or excessive and inappropriate guilt.

  8. Difficulty in staying on task or making decisions.

  9. Frequent thoughts of death, including but not limited to suicidal thoughts.

Having a few of these symptoms does not necessarily qualify your for the diagnosis of Major Depression. You need to have at least five symptoms consistently over a two-week period of time or longer.

If you decide you have Major Depression please confirm this with a depression screen which you may find on my website at  Overcoming Depression.  Additionally, please consult your family doctor and a trained professional who specializes in depressive disorders. A family doctor can assist in ruling out a possible medical condition and a therapist knows how to assist you in digging yourself out of that deep depression rut.

Stay tuned next week for one mighty powerful discussion about how depression can become your life. You won't want to miss it.


Dave Turo-Shields,ACSW,LCSW
Veteran Psychotherapist
Life Coach

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L-Tryptophan is BACK!

If you haven't visited my site lately, please do!  I am always posting the latest pertinent information on depression treatment. 

L-Tryptophan has come back on the market, and if you are one of those who dislike the side-effects of antidepressants then you'll want to read this article.

Here's the quick link:





My Coaching Style

The majority of my clients feel as though they've made a friend by the time we finish therapy or coaching.

That's one of the finest compliments I can receive, even more so when part of the process involved telling a client something they didn't want to hear during our time together.

A client, who we'll call Bill, once said, "Dave, you're a man of the people."  

I guess that has something to do with two things.  My own personal struggles have created a mountain of empathy I carry for the pain of others.  Secondly, I went away from home for my education, but the 2500 person town I left, never left me.  I grew up in a rural farm town in northeastern Indiana.  We lived simply and straightforward.  

Where I grew up people gave you respect as long as you deserved it.  I grew up with exceptionally bright parents who didn't have great opportunity, hence we were a working class family.  However, my parents and especially my father, always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. 

My wife lovingly refers to me as a "sophisticated red-neck."  I'm a down-to-earth person, kind and yet unafraid of a title or social status.  I'm one of the most well-read individuals you'll ever meet.  I've consulted with individuals, small family businesses and corporations.  I've presented to small groups of ten and auditoriums packed with 250 attendees.

I do not take a pathological approach to my clients.  Labeling can often have negative implications.  Instead, I honor how clients have coped, and help them to recognize newer and better styles of achieving happiness and success in their lives.

It is obvious to friends, family, and clients that I love what I do.  90%, yes 90% of all my referrals are word-of-mouth.  You've seen the Gatorade commercial, "Is it in you?"  Well, it's in me, and supporting your personal success is an integral part of my purpose here on Earth. 

Whether you are suffering from a serious depression or other mood disorder, or are having difficulty reaching the level of personal achievement in your life that you know you're capable of, I am here to help as your life coach.

For more information about my life-transforming coaching services please email for more information.


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