Feeling sad is a normal part of life.
Sadness is a healthy reaction to losses and emotional hurts that you face. Feelings of sadness can stem from many reasons—losing a cherished keepsake in a move, saying goodbye to a dear friend who is relocating, not getting a job you’d applied for, etc.
Sadness shows that you cared about something. It reflects what you feel connected to and your hopes for the future.
When you’re sad, it’s not uncommon to shed tears and deeply miss whatever it is you’ve lost. You know that you may need alone time to recover. You may have found certain self-care methods that will help you heal.
How to Tell if It’s More Than Sadness
Sometimes, though, what you’re feeling is more than sadness. Perhaps you feel sad but you just can’t quite put your finger on the reason. Or, perhaps you feel as though things in your life look good on the outside but your mood on the inside is far from good.
Causes of Depression
Often, major events such as the death of a close family member or chronic stress (a loss in its own way), triggers sadness that becomes persistent and resists improvement.
When sadness won’t go away, therapists may suspect that your symptoms indicate depression, a mental health condition that is broader than normal sadness. There may not even be an identifiable external cause for stubborn sadness, as genetics and environmental factors can also play a role in depression.
Depression expresses itself in a wide variety of ways. A sense of unending sadness is typically one of the more noticeable symptoms. Other possible signs of depression include a wide range of physical and emotional behaviors.
You may find yourself feeling unusually hopeless and discouraged. Your sleep habits may change. A sense of guilt and shame may cloud your head, even if you have done nothing to warrant those feelings. Unpleasant, dark thoughts may continually pop up out of the blue.
Weight changes can also occur with depression. You may lose your appetite entirely or find yourself self-medicating with food. You may develop body aches that weren’t there before. Feelings of anxiety, whether about specific things or just in general, may also indicate depression.
Family and friends may notice that you’ve become withdrawn and have lost interest in things you enjoy doing. You may feel restless, unable to focus or make decisions, and more short-tempered.
Completing everyday tasks may become more exhausting than you can handle. Household tasks such as washing dishes, cooking, and laundry may fall by the wayside. You may want to play with your kids, read a book, or do your favorite hobby, but all you can muster the energy for is to pick up the remote and watch a show.
Hope for Depression
It is very important to know that depression is not a character flaw. Depression is not something that you can control. For better or worse, it’s not something that anybody can “just get over” by willpower. Depression encompasses both your mental and physical self.
Having the expertise and outside perspective of a professional is often one of the best ways to recover from depression. Therapists are trained in many different approaches and can help you find the most effective way to heal.
If you find yourself feeling sad and experiencing any number of the above symptoms for more than two weeks, consider making an appointment with a professional to discuss your situation.
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