The words ‘feeling sad’ are among the most searched and googled terms on the internet so if you are experiencing sadness: you are not alone and here follow the faqs with some answers and ways to respond to life’s blue moments
Why do I feel sad?
There might be a very simple answer to that question such as ‘something awful has just happened’ or ‘nobody said life would be fair’ or ‘these things are sent to try us’. On the other hand you might feel that you have no real or definable reason for feeling sad and be wandering why you feel this way so much of the time. Either way, it is definitely worth looking at your sadness, thinking about it and working out what exactly is going on and what it is trying to tell you.
Does feeling sad mean I am depressed?
Not necessarily. Like colours, emotions come in primary or secondary. The four primary emotions are: happiness, sadness, fear and anger. And each of these primary emotions can be useful signposts to what is going on with us, how we should react to things and how we need people to treat us.
Sadness is the emotion that springs up when someone is mean to us or does something hurtful. It is as if a temporary shadow has come over your inner world, and is not at all the same as grief, which is an overwhelming sense of pain and loss.
Neither is it the same as depression, which is a secondary emotion (one caused by pushing down, denying or ignoring a primary emotion). And while depression can include feeling sad, it is defined more by apathy, inertia, numbness, and a lasting fog of low-mood, self-loathing and negative feelings.
Why do I sometimes not realise that I am sad?
Our culture values positivity and stoicism (keeping calm, looking happy and carrying on) above all else so many of us feel that we have to cover up or push aside sadness. Many of us even find it hard to identify sadness because pushing it away has become a reflex or instinctive. We grow up feeling that we should not show our sadness, and we feel really uncomfortable at the idea of displaying it, and when we see sadness in another. But there is nothing ‘weak’ or ‘shameful’ about being blue or down, it is just part of life and what we have to deal with. Feeling sad allows us to recognise when we have been wronged and gives us space to right those wrongs; If we let it. But if we constantly suppress our sadness those patterns of behaviour and feelings can get set.
What should I do when I am sad?
Sadness is an authentic feeling and if you are in touch with it you can prevent it from going inwards and leading to anger and depression further down the road. You need to respond to this emotion by allowing yourself to feel it. Recognise that you don’t have to be “on” or “up” all the time and give yourself the time and space to explore your feelings of sadness. How did you feel when that person was dismissive of you (or whatever has just happened to cause this sadness)? Why did it make you sad? Does it chime with things that happened to you when you were little? Is there a pattern here? How should I respond to this?
Once you have thought about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this emotion and explored it a bit, move on to ‘what’. What do you need to do next? It might be that you need to talk to someone about it to air it some more, gain support and work it through. The most important thing to do for a friend who is feeling sad is just be there for them, so it is likely that this is what you need too. And that just being able to talk about what may have seemed like unacceptable feelings can be very powerful, and begin to help you heal and recover from this sadness.
How can I stop feeling sad?
This is going to sound very contrary, but the way to stop feeling sad is to actually feel it. The only way of dispelling sadness is to address it because if you constantly push it under the carpet you will just trip over it one day. Sadness is part of being human and necessary because it helps you to keep things in perspective and recognise when you are truly happy.
Is there such a thing as too sad?
If your feelings of sadness mean that you cry all the time or you have stopped seeing your friends and family because you are too down, or it has affected your patterns of eating and sleeping, then it could be that your sadness is beginning to affect your general health and you need to seek professional help. A trained counsellor will be able to help you identify if you are depressed and give you strategies to deal with your sadness.
If you are feeling sad or feel that you need to talk about your emotions, we have experienced psychotherapists and counsellors who will be able to help. Call 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected]