Depression isn’t just a fancy word

This article will discuss the sentence that became famous due to the Tv show The Office “Isn’t depression just a fancy word for feeling “Bummed out “?”. We will explain what is the difference between sadness and depression, and how to cope with each.

Depression isn’t just a fancy word

Depression isn’t just a fancy word indeed. But in the 20th episode of the third season of the Tv show The Office while Michael Scott is on the roof, one of his employees, Dwight Schrute screams: “But isn’t depression just a fancy word for being bummed out?”.

This line shows what a large portion of people usually think: that depression is just another word for being sad. And that is not true at all. There is a huge difference between being sad and being depressed. Even dealing with the two is completely different. 

Let’s understand a little more about what depression and sadness are, so we can learn to differentiate the two.

What is depression?

Depression has been, nowadays, one of the most common mental health problems in the world. But as said, it can often be mistaken for sadness. 

People may often think that a person with depression will just be sad all the time. This doesn’t take into consideration that depression is a complex condition that can manifest itself differently in each person. 

And even though it has common symptoms, each person may manifest it through a group of symptoms. The most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling empty
  • Loss of interest in things
  • Loss of purpose
  • Lack of ability to focus
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Apathy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling worthless
  • Guilt
  • Change in eating pattern
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Excessive crying
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

Knowing that these are the most common signs of depression will allow you to take the first step in recognizing something is wrong with you, or someone close. Another important thing to keep in mind is that a person will be considered depressed if they intensely experience these symptoms for more than two weeks.

You should also know that going through depression will deeply change the person, and in the same way that everyone will manifest it differently, it also happens differently depending on your age. 

While in adults depression will often, but not always, present itself through sadness; in teens, depression will most frequently manifest itself through irritability and anger. 

Another thing that causes people to think that depression is fake is the thought that someone with depression should be crying all the time. And that is not true. A person may be depressed, but put all their energy into doing something, and even smile at some moments. This doesn’t mean the depression is suddenly gone. 

They may also feel numb all the time, which can prevent them from showing any emotion, even sadness. Which can be hard for people on the outside to understand. 

Another wrong idea that relates to depression is the one that considers laziness. People may often think that when a person with depression isn’t doing something is because they don’t want to. What they ignore is that, in truth, the person wants to do things, but they may have no energy to do so.

As said before, lack of energy and motivation are common signs of depression. And even though a person with depression may want to clean their room, for example, they can feel as if they can’t stand and do it. 

And hearing that you are not doing things because you are lazy can add to your emotional pain in the same way as when people tell you to “just get over it”.

Depression is not a choice, it is not just a fancy word, it is a condition that happens to a person through no choice of their own. They can’t just turn it off. Gladly there is a treatment for it, but even that can go on for a while before the person feels their condition improving. 

If someone you know is going through depression, be sure to be supportive, learn about the condition so you can offer them the help they need, and talk to them about looking for professional help, which can be a therapist or a psychiatrist. 

Try to understand if they are having any thoughts about ending their lives, which can happen when someone is depressed.

Offering appropriate care and support will help the person going through depression deal with the puzzle of this mental illness. And even if they don’t discover what made them depressed, it will surely help them feel better.

What is sadness? 

Sadness is a common emotion that everyone will experience in their lifetime. But what causes sadness in each person can change based on their cultural background. But usually one can feel sad when they go through rejection or have to say goodbye to someone. 

Going through, or having someone close to you going through sickness or death can also make someone sad, in the same way as losing something that was part of your identity, for example, your job. Finally, sadness can often happen as a result of being disappointed by something.

Sadness differs from depression mostly because of its duration. While a person with depression, who manifests sadness as a symptom of it, can experience persistent sadness for a prolonged period. 

But when a person is experiencing sadness, the emotion, is often a fleeting feeling, that will decrease and even go away as you begin to adjust to the condition that made you sad.

Aside from that, sadness and depression will differ in the effect each of them will take on your life. While sadness will often be directed at one event, for example, losing your job, depression will affect your whole life. 

It will lead you to have a negative feeling not only towards your job loss, but in your capability, and even in your self-worth.

Understanding the difference between the two will help break many of the stigmas around depression, and help people to be more informed on what to do when they get depressed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is depression just a fancy word? 

How can I cope with sadness? 

If you are feeling sad, the first thing you should do is embrace the feeling. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, it can even make it worse. Accepting what you are feeling means you will care and understand how these events may have on you. 

You should also try to share how you feel with other people, that will help you feel better, and supported. Try to maintain the care for yourself during this period, even though sadness can make it hard, it is important to do that so you feel better. 

Knowing that dealing with sadness is not always comfortable, sometimes it can involve a lot of waiting for it to pass. But try to avoid, during this time, negative coping strategies such as alcohol and drugs.

Having an outlet for your sadness can also be a good way to cope. You can put it in art, like painting or dancing, or even writing your feelings in a poem, a short story, or even a journal.

How can I cope with depression? 

To cope with depression may require not only the professional help of a therapist and a psychiatrist. There are also ways you can improve your mood with some lifestyle changes.

The first thing to do is try to keep healthy life habits. Eating and sleeping well will be a great way to improve your energy levels. Exercising is something that will not only reduce your stress levels but will also improve your mood.

Aside from that, you may want to take on meditation, as this is a great way to center yourself when those negative thoughts start to cripple, you, and you feel you need to focus more on the present. 

Being close to people you love will also be extremely important. Having people to vent, which will also help you get your mind off of depression, even if just for a little while, can be priceless.

Opening yourself up to new things can also have a positive effect on you. You can try to do some volunteer work, or take up a new hobby. It will not only bring you some positive emotions but also give you a sense of accomplishment.

What are suicidal thoughts?  

Suicidal thoughts, or suicidal ideation, is what happens when a person is considering ending their life. It can often happen in two ways: a more passive manner, and a more active one. 

In the first one, the person may have a fleeting thought about how it would be to end their life, but there is no immediate planning. 

But on the second one, the person will begin to plan how, where, and when to do it. And this leads to it being the most dangerous type, in which the person may act at a moment’s impulse.

What are signs someone is having suicidal thoughts?

When someone is having suicidal thoughts they can become more agitated, and irritable. Their sleeping patterns can get worse, and they can experience insomnia. Aside from that, they can begin to say goodbye to their loved ones, and even give away their belongings.

When a person is having suicidal thoughts they may also develop a curiosity about death, violent events, or even suicide.

Are there forms of depression?

Yes, there are forms of depression. Depression can have different names depending on the intensity of the symptoms, and the duration of it. It can be mild, moderate, major, or even persistent depression.

Mild depression is the one in which the symptoms will only go on for a few weeks, and the symptoms are mild. Moderate depression can be more intense, and the person can begin to feel some impacts of it in the person’s life.

Major depression can often make it impossible for the person to do things as they did before. The symptoms will be so intense that sometimes even getting out of bed can be impossible. 

Persistent depression is a form that can go on for as long as 5 years. It can cause the person to experience swings that will go from mild to major depression.


This article centered on discussing if depression is just a fancy word for feeling bummed out. It explained what depression is, and what sadness is to understand the difference between both.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.