Sadness and Depression

Everyone experiences the blues from time to time. Sadness is universal. Typically, we become sad when we have gone through a challenging or painful experience, such as feeling hurt by another, being excluded, when we are grieving the loss of a loved one or relationship, or feeling homesick or lonely. When we feel sad, it is usually temporary and we often rebound in a short time. 

Processing Feelings of Sadness

People experience, express, and process their sadness in different ways. Think about occasions when you might have been sad. What has made you feel better? Some people are more overt with their sadness and cry. This release of emotion may cause feelings of relief. Other people retreat and become more introspective. Writing down your thoughts, listening to music, doing something creative, and looking at photos or items that make you feel happy can be a quiet way for you to bounce back in your own time and space. Practicing mindfulness can also be helpful if you prefer to be alone. 

Other people may find that connecting socially with friends or family and talking to others can help them overcome sadness. And some people find that exercise and being active helps them to move on from feelings of sadness. Going for a walk or run, practicing yoga, or any other movement that makes you feel good can help. The added benefit of exercise is it increases serotonin to help regulate mood, and physical activities release endorphins, which also boost mood.  

Depression: More than Feeling Sad

While the occasional bout of sadness is expected, a state of persistent sadness may be a sign that someone is experiencing depression, which is an emotional state rather than an emotional response. Though it can develop in response to an event, depression can sometimes have no apparent cause. Depression is not uncommon in college students. According to the National College Health Assessment, about 1 in 5 college students reported being diagnosed and treated for depression at one point in the year prior to taking the survey. 

Because of this, it is important to seek care or consult with a mental health or medical provider if think you or a friend might be experiencing depression. Some common symptoms of depression may include:  

  • Persistent sadness
  • Irritability, agitation, or being overly sensitive
  • Sleeping too much or sleeping too little
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite like eating too much or eating too little, resulting in weight loss or gain
  • Feelings or expressions of hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory changes
  • Isolation, withdrawal, and changes in class attendance
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Frequent crying spells
  • Consistent headaches or other body aches

Learn more about depression:
The Jed Foundation
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mental Health America

See the “Mental Health” and “Suicide” tabs here to find immediate help.