I heard about actor Robin Williams’ depression and death by apparent suicide last night and was saddened and shocked. I couldn’t believe that the funniest man on earth could be in so much pain. He will be greatly missed.

Since the news broke, I’ve been reading lots of articles about his death. Many of the articles say that people don’t understand the difference between sadness, unhappiness, and depression, and that their misunderstanding of depression could prevent them from getting the help they need. We tend to use those words interchangeably. I looked up each word in my dictionary. I can’t say it really clarified much.

From the dictionary:

Sad=a: affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness; b: 1) causing or associated with grief or unhappiness; 2) regrettable, deplorable. I couldn’t find a description for sadness.

Unhappy=1) not fortunate; 2) not cheerful or glad; 3) causing or subject to misfortune. I couldn’t find a description for unhappiness.

Depression=b (1) a state of feeling sad; (2) a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked esp. by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.