Feeling Down or Feeling Sad? Know the Signs

Written by: Brett Melanson – PhD 
(Psychology & Neuroscience)

Last updated date : March 29, 2022

Our emotions tell us about our environments. Feeling sad or happy allows us to make choices and learn about events in the world. Think about it, if you are feeling down about something that happened, you tend to avoid that event in the future.

It is worth nothing that emotions are not static. That is, we feel all sorts of emotions every minute of every day. They change from one second to the next. 

One way to think about this, is by imagining emotions on a spectrum or gradient. At times, we may feel a mix of happiness, sadness, and anger all at once. But the important thing is, is that one emotion is prioritized. 

So for instance, you may feel happy, but there are lingering thoughts of angering that just are not important enough for you to recognize them fully. This is how emotions work on a gradient. 

Here, you will get an idea of the two most common emotions: happiness and sadness. Moreover, you’ll learn about the signs of feeling sad so that you can overcome negativity and bounce back from bad events.

Chapter 1:
Happiness

In the 1970s, a scientist known as Paul Eckman was the first to name the six basic human emotions. Moreover, he said that these emotions were common to all human cultures.

Dr. Eckman called these emotions happiness, disgust, surprise, fear, anger, and sadness. Notably, of all the emotions, being happy was the most popular one that a person tries to feel. 

Happiness can be thought of as a pleasant emotional state where you feel joy, content, gratified, satisfied, and overall good about yourself. 

Importantly, happiness is linked to many positive outcomes, like increased lifespan and better marriages. In contrast, being unhappy can have the opposite effect.

father advising the son sitting on his bed feeling low, depressed
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Chapter 2:
Sadness

Emotions can cause us to feel sad about things and can cause us to become unhappy.

But this is natural and happens quite often. Feeling sad can be a normal thing for everyone. However, if you have been feeling down a lot lately, this may be a sign of a more serious problem.

It is important to understand the difference from feeling sad and depression, because one is common while the other requires help.

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Chapter 3:
Symptoms of Feeling Sad or Feeling Down

Knowing the signs and symptoms that are linked to sad mood can help you understand your emotions. It is common for someone who is depressed to not know when they feel sad.

So, knowing some of the signs of feeling sad and down can help know whether you may be dealing with a long-term problem.

It is common for low mood to include feelings like:

  • Having low mood.
  • Feeling anxious or like you are going to panic.
  • Having trouble sleeping or feeling tired a lot.
  • Angry.
  • Having low self-esteem or low confidence.

Most of the time, sad mood is caused by a negative event that goes against our normal ways of thinking. By knowing what causes you to be sad, you can begin to learn how to stay positive in the face of negativity.

Being sad may make you want to avoid other people, self-medicate, or think about bad thoughts a lot. These things can cause a person to become even more sad. Moreover, it can often lengthen feelings of sadness as well.

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Chapter 4:
Things to Try to Boost Mood

Now that you know about the signs of feeling sad or feeling down, it may be helpful to know how you can boost your mood. This can help you deal with negative events in the future by staying positive. Moreover, it can help you bounce back after feeling sad about something. Some easy things you can do to help with feeling sad include:
  • Talking to your friends, family, or counselor about your feelings.
  • Work on boosting your self-esteem.
  • Focus on your feelings in the moment, which is a form of meditation.
  • Try self-help programs like the ones we have here at Epsychonline.
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Chapter 5:
Things You Should Not Do When Feeling Down

Just as doing things to boost mood are important, you should not do things that can have a negative effect on your mood as well. Some of these things are:
  • Doing a lot of things at the same time. You should try and set small goals for you to do. This can help you build confidence in yourself and stop you from becoming stressed.
  • There may be things in the world that you cannot change; do not hold on to them. Learn to let go of these things and focus your time and energy on things that can help you feel happy
  • Thinking you are alone in the way you feel. There are a lot of other people in the world that are dealing with the same emotions you are.
  • Drinking booze and using drugs. Things like alcohol are called depressants, which can cause a decrease in brain activity. Moreover, alcohol can have negative effects on mood after drinking a lot of it or drinking it for a long time.
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Chapter 6:
Conclusion

Now that you have a better idea of what is means to feel sad, try and use some of the things listed here to bounce back after a negative event. As well, you can also use these tips to become more resilient to negative events you may experience in the future.

If you are looking for some self-help programs that can help you become more positive and help you learn to deal with sadness in a direct, positive way, try out the programs we have developed at Epsychonline. 

Importantly, if you think you are dealing with something that may be more serious than simply sadness, seek help immediately by calling a self-help telephone number or by talking to a doctor.