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We’ve all experienced sadness before – after a breakup, when we get passed over for the big promotion, after the loss of a loved one. Sadness is a normal human emotion that we’ve all been forced to contend with, and we will all likely experience again. Sadness is generally triggered by an event that we find to be painful, challenging, or disappointing. In other words, we usually feel sad  about something specific. Sadness is a normal human emotion, which usually resolves after a period of time.

Depression is often defined as intense sadness, and those who haven’t experienced it often associate it with “just being sad.” This is far from being the case, however, and depression isn’t defined so simply. Depression is more than “just being sad”, and at Brain Forest we believe that this is an important distinction to make. Let’s examine both sadness and depression and discuss what makes them so different.

Depression vs. Sadness: What’s the Difference?

For some people, depending on their neurological makeup and family history, sadness can morph into something else, something bigger. Depression is an irregular, atypical state of mind; it is a mental illness that extensively and persistently affects thinking, behavior, emotions, and perception. Unlike sadness, depression usually occurs without the presence of a trigger, such as a difficult event or situation. Oftentimes, when someone is struggling with depression, they will admit that even when their life seems to be going smoothly, the overwhelming feeling of sadness is still present and never seems to relent.

It can sometimes be difficult to understand the difference between depression and sadness. Here at Brain Forest, we like to envision it the way our math teachers taught us about squares and rectangles: all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. If you are depressed, you will feel sad, but feeling sad doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed. At Brain Forest, we feel it is important to distinguish between depression and sadness so that those who are not already aware can understand how debilitating depression really can be.

Experiencing Sadness

As previously discussed, sadness is an emotion that is usually brought on by a triggering event.  Once triggered, a sad person may need to cry and break down. They may need to vent to a friend and talk out their frustration. Some people may find themselves wanting to eat a gallon of ice cream and watch six hours of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Generally, people suffering from sadness can usually find an outlet or relief for those emotions. Sadness also usually tends to phase out on its own with time, eventually allowing you to get back to your normal baseline.

Experiencing Depression

Depression, on the other hand, is an illness whose tentacles will find their way into every aspect of your life, making it feel less enjoyable, less interesting, and less worthwhile. Those suffering from depression often experience a complete lack of energy and motivation, sometimes resulting in being bedridden for days, or even weeks, at a time. Depression can make day-to-day life feel overwhelming.

Depression can also sap your ability to experience joy, connection, or meaning, making life feel like a miserable experience. It can also lower your threshold for dealing with life; people who struggle with depression are often more impatient and less emotionally stable. Depression can also render a person quick to anger and easily frustrated. This can have an impact on their ability to recover from those emotions.

One of the most impactful symptoms brought on by depression is the feeling of hopelessness. Those suffering from depression often feel that nothing will ever improve, as if they are doomed to be miserable forever. Sometimes, depression can even drive a person to consider suicide, as they feel so hopeless that they believe there is no better solution.

Everyone experiences negative thoughts and emotions; we all feel a little anxious or stressed, especially when there are triggering situations in our lives. When those emotions persist and worsen, affecting your ability to live your day-to-day life, this may be a sign of depression.

When struggling with depression, your brain can get “locked” into functioning in these stressed states. This means that your brain will create new neural pathways that light up when you’re in a depressive state. Once your neurons get accustomed to these new pathways, it is very difficult for our brains to return us to our balanced, neutral position. Depression and anxiety become our new “normal.”

Retraining Your Brain With Brain Forest

At Brain Forest, we provide drug-free relief for people who are struggling with depression and anxiety. By boosting the brain to its functional best with neurofeedback and proper nutrition, we provide services to those whose brains are “stuck” in depression or anxiety.

Neurofeedback is a research-proven technique to improve your brain function through learning and retraining. The process is simple, painless, and noninvasive. Remember the neural pathways in your brain we talked about earlier? The good news is that they aren’t hardwired. They can be changed through a process known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to form and reorganize connections, especially through learning and experience. This means that the neural pathways in your brain that are causing you to experience depression can be rewritten!

At Brain Forest, we are able to assist you in this process through the use of advanced EEG technology which allows us to identify and quantify the brain activity that is causing your depression or anxiety. From there, our staff works with you to create a personalized plan that can help retrain your brain back to its natural, comfortable state. This allows for greater happiness and resilience in whatever you may face in the future.

Think of neurofeedback as a gradual learning process. Your brain learns from feedback! Our staff at Brain Forest works to come up with a plan of feedback to retrain the parts of your brain that are contributing to your depression. Neuroscience research has shown that repetitive exercise of neural networks can reshape the brain. Here at Brain Forest, we work alongside you to help get you “unstuck” from your depression.

Rising Above Depression

Depression is scary and can be isolating to live with. Current research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that 7.1% of Americans over the age of 18 have experienced a depressive episode. It can also be difficult to find adequate treatment or relief from symptoms of depression.

Here at Brain Forest, we are lucky to be trained and equipped in drug-free, painless treatment for people who are “stuck” in depression and anxiety. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool in training brains out of depression and anxiety, and we are grateful to be offering that service to anyone who is struggling.

Contact Brain Forest for a Free Consultation!

At Brain Forest, we provide you with the tools to train your brain to achieve powerful results and get you back to a comfortable state. Contact us today for a free consultation! Our staff will be able to produce a “Brain Map” so that we can get to the root of your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan focused around what you are struggling with. You are not alone, and Brain Forest is here to help!