Are you feeling sad for no apparent reason? Having heightened emotions can come down to environmental factors, lifestyle choices, hormonal imbalance, or underlying mental health conditions like depression or adjustment disorders.

You may be unaware that you’re feeling sad or not your usual self, but it may already be depression. So is it normal to be depressed without even knowing it?

The truth is, it is difficult to recognize the presence of depression. For some, it may simply appear as sadness or common grief. Sadness is a symptom of depression and may occur gradually.

Depression is not just a feeling that passes. It can be a serious clinical diagnosis that needs to be addressed. 

Is It Normal to Feel Sad and Not Know Why?

It is normal to feel sad and now know why. There may be deep-rooted memories from your childhood or painful emotions you’ve been suppressing that start to lurk in your thoughts.

There are many reasons why you can feel sad. It can be due to a loss, significant life change, heartbreak, financial struggles, or worrying about your or your loved one’s health.

Other people may not be satisfied with their life, which is the reason why they feel sad. But when a person feels sad for more than two weeks and it’s starting to affect their daily life, this may already be depression.

Are Sadness and Depression the Same?

Though sadness and depression are interchangeably used, they are not the same. Sadness is a symptom of depression, while depression is a mental health condition.

Sadness happens after a negative experience and may last for a few hours to days and go away on its own. In contrast, depression may last for two weeks or more and cause general distress.

Sadness is a brief, subjective emotion, a specific reaction, and a temporary change in mood. By comparison, depression is a persistent mental illness that changes your life that needs a mental health professional’s diagnosis.

Depression can affect relationships at home, work, or school. If you’re feeling sad for a long time, it may be depression.

You May Be Depressed, But You Just Don’t Know It

There are many reasons why you may feel sad and just don’t know it. You may be unaware of the symptoms, in denial, or have mistaken the symptoms for something else. Some may be aware of the symptoms but just don’t realize they’re already depressed.

Here are the reasons why you don’t realize that you’re depressed:

  • You’ve been depressed for some time now, and it seems like these feelings are normal to you. This is especially true for people who have been depressed since childhood.
  • Not everyone with depression may have sad emotions. Some may just feel tired, experience a loss of interest in activities, and have low energy or poor concentration.
  • The symptoms of depression may develop slowly, and you may not recognize them.
  • You’re dismissive about what you feel because you don’t want to admit you’re depressed, as you may perceive it as a sign of weakness.

Different Types of Depression

Do you think that you’re experiencing depression? Talk to a mental health professional right away.

The DSM-V Psychological Diagnostic manual recognizes nine categories of depression: persistent depressive disorder, major depression, seasonal depression, manic depression (or bipolar disorder), depressive psychosis, perinatal depression, situational depression, atypical depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

The different kinds of depression mentioned above differ in their causes, symptoms, and treatment approach. Depression affects everyone differently; some may experience more symptoms while others don’t. It is important to talk to a mental health professional immediately if your feelings of sadness are already affecting your everyday life.

Symptoms of Depression to Look Out For

Aside from sadness, what are the common symptoms of depression? If you’ve been feeling the following symptoms for at least two weeks, seek support right away. 

  • Anger, irritability, anxiety, agitation, and heightened emotions
  • Lack of physical energy or fatigue
  • Changes in eating patterns, loss of appetite (as evidenced by body changes like weight gain or weight loss)
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, loneliness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Excessive guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies enjoyed before
  • Unexplained body aches
  • Trouble concentrating at work or school
  • Poor memory, thinking, and decision-making
  • Slowed speech and physical movements
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Tips on Taking Care of Your Mental Health When You Feel Sad

Psychiatrists and mental health experts have established a treatment approach to manage depression. However, aside from therapy or counseling, you should also learn how to take care of your mental health. These strategies are not just for people suffering from depression but for anyone who feels sad, including those suffering from anxiety or on the verge of a mental health decline.

You may feel sad at times for no reason because of the unpleasant things in your life. But do you have to dwell on these negative feelings? No. Here are some tips on quickly lifting your mood, becoming more positive, and, most importantly, learning self-love.

1. Go for a Quick Walk

If you want an immediate improvement in your mood or a boost in your energy, go for a quick walk. You can walk with a friend or a loved one around the block. You can even walk outdoors with great scenery to clear your mind of any stress. That’s why some people like to walk to work or home because they find it relaxing.

Walking can be a more calming activity if you do it mindfully. Simply slow down your pace, concentrate on your breathing, and focus on each step you take.

Your mind may wander off at times, and that’s okay. Just focus back on your footsteps.

2. Talk to a Friend or Family Member

Talking to a loved one or a family member can help you sort out your emotions. Even if they don’t give advice, it’s just nice to talk to someone if you feel sad.

Sometimes, if you feel depressed, it’s nice just to verbalize what you feel. Your friends and family can offer you support when you need it. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing that you’re not alone and can talk to someone if you’re feeling down. 

3. Make a List of the Things You’re Grateful For

Making a list of the things you’re grateful for is a powerful tool to help you put things into perspective. At times, we get overwhelmed by the bad things around us that we tend to forget the blessings we have to be grateful for. Making a gratitude list will remind you that you’re doing right in your life and that there are still many reasons to be happy.

Be thankful for what you have because other people are the blessings you miss to recognize. Be grateful for the roof over your head, the gift of family, good health, and having a job. You will always have things to be thankful for, so do not take things for granted.

4. Give Yourself a Break

Do not overwork yourself. Allow yourself to take a break. Sometimes not knowing how to have fun is the reason why a person can feel sad. Have fun with a friend, go on nature trips, relax, get a massage, and pamper yourself.

Life is stressful as it is, with commitments, responsibilities, and pressure. But do you have to live a stressful life? No, you don’t. Let your hair down, don’t spend the whole day thinking about your problems, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy life.

We only live once, so learn to lighten up by giving yourself permission to relax, recharge, and enjoy whatever brings you happiness in life. 

5. Appreciate the Little Things in Life

You’d be astonished to know how something such as not worrying too much can make a big difference in your life. You’d be amazed at how little things in life can make you happy.

The sunlight, playing with your pet, smelling the fresh air, star gazing, or listening to birds sing can make you instantly happy. These are all free but are all proven effective in combatting sadness.

You have more things to explore in life, so instead of focusing on the destination, enjoy the process. Enjoy the little moments in your life that lead you to bigger and better experiences. All the simple things that happen in your life can free you of your worries.

6. Talk to a Counselor

If you’re getting sad for no reason, seek support and talk to a counselor right away. Do not allow yourself to be troubled by overwhelming emotions, as a therapist can help you deal with them. Talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy is proven to help with feelings of depression and sadness.

You don’t have to be sad or in the dark about why you’re sad. If you want to feel better and avoid depression, talk to a Kentucky Counseling Center counselor immediately. You can schedule an appointment at KCC Direct Services for online counseling.

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