I am always looking for new ways to illustrate the difference between clinical depression and plain old sadness. So picture a basketball floating in a swimming pool. This represents your brain when you feel good or you in a mood that is average for you. Now take the basketball and force it to the bottom of the pool. Let that represent a “normal” brain feeling really sad.
Life can get messy and bad things happen. Sadness is a normal response. But, like the basketball at the bottom of the pool, your brain has a tremendous force to go up to the surface. In other words, sadness is a normal part of life. Most people have a baseline mood that wants to get back to normal: like the surface of the swimming pool.
Clinical depression is different from sadness because the ball now wants to stay on the bottom. Picture a fully deflated basketball, depressed and down at the bottom of the pool. You can dive down and carry the ball up to the surface (trip to Disney World?), but it will sink down to the bottom once you let go. If you suffer from clinical depression you may find that you can smile and laugh, but the overall force of your mood is downward. As soon as the jokes cease your deflated mood sinks to the bottom again.