Experiencing sadness and depression

Sadness is a universal feeling.  We all feel it from time to time and some people feel it a lot of the time.  We just don’t all express it the same way.  The way you grew up can affect how you express sadness.  Some people grew up in homes or communities where feeling sad just wasn’t very accepted.  This can make feeling or expressing sadness a pretty uncomfortable thing.  Having a feeling you don’t know what to do with can feel weird. 

Conversely, some people have frequent and intense feelings of sadness.  Regardless of how often you feel it, or whether you know

what to do with it, a common response to intense feelings is to use drugs and alcohol.  Usually, this causes more long-term problems and prolongs those feelings of sadness or depression.

 

When is sadness depression?

For some people, depression comes after sadness, burnout or grief have not been addressed.  Continued use of alcohol and/or drugs may be a cause.  Imbalances in the brain may also be a cause.  Not everyone experiences depression in the same way, but here are some things to look for.

  • Depressed mood most of the day, most days

  • Loss of interest/pleasure in activities

  • Gaining weight or losing weight; increase/decrease in appetite

  • Change to your normal sleep pattern

  • Feeling restless or moving slowly

  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt

  • Problems concentrating

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

    • If you are considering suicide, please seek support immediately.  You can call 911 or you can contact the 24/7 crisis line at Integral Care at 512.472.4357.  Help is available.

 

Therapy for sadness and depression

Therapy can be very effective in helping to manage ongoing sadness or depression.  When we feel depressed, we often feel overwhelmed and have trouble focusing.  Therapy can provide the guidance and support needed to step back and look at what may be contributing to feelings of sadness or depression.  Some possible areas to examine may include:

  • The role of substance use in your life

  • Relationships

  • Work or school

  • Managing day to day stressors

 

Depression and medication

Some people do need anti-depressants to manage their depression.  To determine if that is the case for you, it is recommended to consult with a psychiatrist.  If medication is part of your treatment, therapy can still be effective. 

 

Numerous studies have indicated that very often medication, along with therapy have increased rates of efficacy.  Medication does not cure underlying issues that contribute to depression, nor is it generally considered a good long-term solution.

I’m not motivated enough to start therapy

That is a common feeling.  Lack of motivation frequently accompanies both sadness and depression.  But, waiting until you feel better to get help can prolong your suffering.  What we do can influence how we feel.  This is a tenet of behavioral activation, a component of treatment for depression. 

 

Our behaviors can influence our emotions, so when we choose behaviors that have meaning and are good for us, we are taking an active, positive step in addressing our sadness or depression.

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