Why Do I Feel So Sad?

Why Do I Feel So Sad?
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Question:  Why do I feel so sad all the time? Could depression be the reason I feel this way?

Answer:  Feeling sad is one possible symptom of depression. Other symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed, weight gain or loss, sleep problems, thoughts of death and suicide, restlessness, feeling slowed down, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and difficulty thinking or concentrating.

But, does feeling sad automatically mean that you do have depression? Not necessarily. Feeling sad can be a normal reaction to life events, such as a marital breakup or the death of a loved one. The difference between ordinary sadness and depression lies in its persistence and the effect it has on your day-to-day life. With normal sadness, you may feel sad, but you are able to cope with it and keep up with your daily life until eventually, the sadness lessens. When sadness lingers and becomes unmanageable, however, you may need to seek outside assistance for depression.

If you are experiencing some of the other symptoms mentioned above and your feelings of sadness have been around for longer than a couple of weeks, you may wish to talk with your family doctor about your sadness. Your doctor can first rule out or treat any medical conditions - for example, hypothyroidism - which can cause symptoms of depression.

Once these conditions are ruled out, your doctor will be able to either treat you for depression or refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist who can help you.

Depression can be very effectively treated using either medications called antidepressants or through psychotherapy (talk therapy).  The best treatment plan for depression would likely include a combination of both medication and psychotherapy, however.


Some popular medication choices for depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) and sertoonin and norepinephrine reputake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine) and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine).  Medications in these classes tend to work well with fewer side effects than the older types of medications such as the monoamine oxidase inhbitors (MAOIs) and tricyclics (TCAs). 

One of the best types of psychotherapy for depression is a type of therapy called Cognitive Therapy, which involves teaching people to take their negative patterns of thinking and replace them with more positive ones.  The idea behind this type of therapy is that the things we say to ourselves on a regular basis tend to drive our emotional state.  If we frequently say negative things, for example, we can literally talk ourselves into feeling depressed.  On the other hand, if we say positive, uplifting things in our self-talk, we can trigger happier emotions.

This quiz can help you determine where to start when it comes to taking care of yourself and digging out.

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