Sadness is an emotion that is actually a normal, necessary and healthy response to certain parts of life.We can’t avoid feeling sad now and then. And if we did not sometimes feel sad, how would we know what joy is in comparison?
If we allow ourselves to fully experience sadness, instead of ignoring it or fighting it off? And let it move through us, rather than getting stuck in it and feeling a victim? Sadness can even feel rather invigorating, like a good rainstorm coming through.
When we feel sad, we tend to know why. It will be a certain, identifiable experience or series of experiences that are behind the emotion.
And although sadness might stick around for several days or weeks, depending on its trigger, it will eventually leave.
Sadness can also come and go, such as when we are in mourning and we have sad days interspersed with feeling okay.
Depression is a state of being that is far from a healthy part of life.
It’s considered a ‘maladapative’ behaviour because it is an ineffective way to cope. It stops us from adjusting to life, or even makes our days worse.
Depression can involve sadness, but is often less energising than even feeling sad or feeling anything at all. Many suffers speak about feeling feeling numb. Depression also tends to come with physical symptoms, such as fatigue, brain fog, and a change in appetite.
When we feel depressed we can sometimes have no idea why. It can be as if depression crept up on us, or we suddenly fell into a hole. Or it can feel illogic, with a small thing happening and we feel as if it’s the end of the world.
Depression tends to be pretty consistent. We just feel down all the time, no matter how much we’d like a break, and it goes on for six weeks, several months, or even for years.
There is an overemphasis on being happy and ‘positive’, made worse by social media and the competition it creates for the perfect-looking life. This kind of obsessive ‘pursuit of happiness‘ is actually a very unhealthy approach to life.
Emotions exist to be felt. And sadness has gifts for us. Again, it helps identify what we value and what we need in life.
If we repress sadness, we tend to also repress other emotions, including joy.
Over time, if sadness is always avoided and repressed, then it can build up and contribute to a case ofdepression. True, it might be a blend of things that cause your depression, such as a difficult upbringing, many challenging events in a row, or even a genetic disposition towards depression. But sadness can definitely be a trigger.
Not sure if you are or aren’t hiding your sadness? Look at your life to see if you might be using coping strategies to avoid your emotions. This might be drinking a bit too much, overeating, overworking, going out all the time and avoiding ever being alone, or alternately avoiding social situations that are intimate enough you’d have to let your emotions out.
So when is my sadness or depression a problem?
The main signs to look for when it comes to sadness morphing into depression include:
If you have been feeling low for six weeks or more
If your low moods are now consistent over erratic
If you you have stopped doing your regular activities