Sadness is a natural human emotion. It is most often a temporary state, benign and without risk. But if this feeling settles permanently or worsens, it is important to confide in and/or consult a health professional.
Sadness is an emotion, which reflects emotional pain associated with or characterized by feelings of hopelessness, grief, helplessness, and disappointment. It can be manifested by crying, loss of appetite, or loss of vitality. In the most severe cases, sadness can lead to more or less profound lethargy, as well as social isolation.
The causes of the feeling of sadness are multiple and can vary from one individual to another. Certain crucial stages of life, for example, are traditionally accompanied by this emotion. Let us mention in particular:
- the loss of a loved one and the grieving process that follows is accompanied by a feeling of deep sadness which disappears with time and the acceptance of the disappearance. But this feeling can resurface from time to time when one recalls memories;
- a change of life with major upheavals, such as a move or the end of studies which can be accompanied by the sadness in the face of nostalgia for the good times past;
- the birth of a child and the hormonal changes it entails can cause many mothers to feel sad. In many cases, these “baby blues” do not last and disappear in the weeks following delivery. If it settles more deeply and over time, we then speak of postpartum depression;
- or even a breakup in love or friendship, which is experienced as mourning and most often leads to a feeling of sadness.
Note that depression is a severe form of sadness that is accompanied by negative and devaluing thoughts, a feeling of despair, and many symptoms, such as loss of sleep, appetite, or even morbid thoughts. The disease sets in chronically and must be clearly differentiated from a temporary “blues” or the sadness felt when faced with the loss of a loved one, for example.
Evolution and possible complications
The feeling of sadness, even without being associated with depression, can lead to risky behaviors for the person concerned, such as:
- drug or alcohol use;
- social isolation and loneliness;
- inactivity or procrastination;
- or a decrease in appetite.
Treatment and prevention: what solutions?
Everyone can one day or another be confronted, during their life, with experiences or difficult moments that will generate a feeling of sadness. In most cases, this feeling is healthy and will go away with time and acceptance. However, even though sadness is a normal emotion that we all feel, there are certain actions that we can take in everyday life that can help limit this feeling. For instance :
- have a healthy and balanced diet;
- take care of the quality and quantity of daily sleep;
- exercise daily;
- take time to unwind and relax through recreational activities;
- take the time to notice the good things in life and the small victories it offers;
- develop their social life and human contacts;
- sharing feelings with someone who cares – like a relative or close friend. Talking to a professional, such as a doctor or counselor can also help analyze the origins of this feeling of sadness;
- or even be in contact with Nature during walks in the forest, in a park, or during hikes. These simple behaviors have been identified as beneficial for mental and physical health (the Japanese speak of Shinrin-Yoku, literally “forest bathing”).
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