What are sad but common situations

Sadness and stages of grief

If sadness and feelings of grief keep recurring, it may indicate depression.
© iStock.com/Marjan_Apostolovic

Sadness or grief, like joy, fear or anger, is a normal feeling that everyone knows. Every now and then it makes itself felt in everyday life. A sad mood usually arises when a person has a negative or bad experience. For example a death, a loss in a close social environment as well as professional failures or private disappointments, for example through rejection. Hormonal fluctuations, as in the context of the female cycle, can also promote a negative mood. It is typical of "normal" depression that the feeling is only temporary and subsides again over time.

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Sorrow accompanied by painful feelings

Grief is one of the most painful experiences a person can have. That emotional state and a perfectly normal response to severe loss or misfortune. It is often accompanied by feelings of depression and pain. In addition, those affected often withdraw.

The death of a loved one or a loved one is a stroke of fate that throws us off track like hardly any other event in life and has to be dealt with accordingly. A conscious phase of grief is then completely natural and also important and necessary for the psyche.

Stages of grief: important grief work

Only conscious mourning work and allowing grief ultimately help to process the stroke of fate psychologically. There are basically four different phases of grief:

In Phase 1 the person concerned does not want to admit the loss or stroke of fate and feels as if frozen.

Phase 2 the grief is characterized by violent outbursts of emotions, for example anger, pain, feelings of guilt, the search for someone to blame, or fear. Alcoholism, nicotine or pills are then often supposed to curb the violence of this painful emotional roller coaster. Sleep disorders can occur, the susceptibility to infectious diseases increases, as does the risk of accidents.

In Phase 3 the thoughts of the mourner stubbornly revolve around the blow of fate suffered. The person seeks a retreat from everyday life in order to be able to devote themselves entirely to their own suffering. This often leads to the transfiguration of the past. Reality eventually catches up with the mourner and is slowly being accepted.

In Phase 4 the mourner opens up to the world again and approaches new people and situations with unusual openness. Nevertheless, this phase is marked by contradictions. On the one hand, life should now be made more intensive and open. On the other hand, the mourners are plagued by fears of renewed disappointments and the associated states of grief.

The duration of the grief phase is as individual as the grieving person himself. Nobody can predict how long it will take to cope with grief. The pain and the associated sadness often only appear months later after the dramatic experience. Likewise, the individual phases of mourning can break out again and again, if they then also last a shorter time. In the case of sudden or violent death, for example, the shock phase of the bereaved usually lasts longer than in other cases.

Grief can trigger depression

If the sadness persists for a long time or occurs again and again at certain intervals for no apparent reason, this is a typical sign of depression. Those affected then usually not only feel deeply sad, but also lose interest in things that they used to enjoy. You are listless, tired and without energy. This negative mood cannot be mitigated or driven away by positive influences or activities.

If you suffer from a persistent, paralyzing, sad mood, it is best to consult a doctor you trust in good time - if possible before a depressive disorder affects your everyday life and your quality of life too much. Depression can now be easily treated.

There are many causes of sadness

Temporary sadness is normal and usually has no disease value. It can have many causes. Most people react to negative events or strokes of fate with a feeling of sadness.

Examples are:

  • Separation from partner

  • Moving out of the children

  • Death of a loved one

  • Job loss

  • Moving to another place of residence and loss of social environment

  • Loss of friends

  • Conflicts and arguments in work and family

  • Lack of social and professional recognition

  • unfulfilled love

In addition, serious chronic diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or a stroke can cause persistent sadness, dejection and even depression. They usually mean a deep turning point in life, after which nothing is as it used to be.

If the sadness persists, see a doctor

Always consult a doctor if you are sad for a period of two weeks or longer for no specific reason and the feeling does not improve through positive experiences and on your own. Only a doctor can determine the underlying causes of the sadness, whether the feeling is a normal response to stressful events, or whether you have depression that needs treatment.

Sad or Depressed?

The doctor-patient conversation, in which the doctor asks a few questions about the symptoms and the medical history (anamnesis), is the most important tool for obtaining information as to whether the sadness indicates a possible depressive disorder.

The doctor could ask the following questions:

  • How long has the feeling of sadness existed?

  • Can you name a trigger, for example a conflict, a breakup or a job loss?

  • How intense is the sadness?

  • Do you feel sad all the time or only in certain situations?

  • How has the sadness been in the last few weeks: has it got better or worse?

  • Are there positive experiences and activities that alleviate or drive away the sadness?

  • Do you suffer from other symptoms, for example listlessness, a feeling of worthlessness, loss of interest, depression, tiredness, increased need for sleep (even during the day) or difficulty concentrating?

  • Is the sadness interrupted by euphoric phases?

  • Have you had any traumatic experiences recently or in childhood?

  • Do you use alcohol and other drugs?

  • Do you suffer from a serious chronic illness such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or a chronic pain disorder?

  • What medications do you take regularly?

In any case, further examinations should follow, for example a blood test and / or computed tomography (CT) of the brain, in order to rule out possible physical causes, such as a malfunction of the thyroid gland.

  • Do you suspect that you are suffering from depression? Or are you worried about a loved one? The self-test brings more clarity.

    to the test

What can you do about grief and sadness?

With "normal" sadness and emotional distress, a good, constructive conversation with friends often brightens the gloomy mood. Most people are much better off sharing what's on their minds. For many people, an exchange in special self-help groups can also be helpful.

It is helpful if solutions to the problem that lead to the sad mood can be worked out together with familiar people. Distractions from physical activity such as swimming, hiking, jogging or a visit to the gym are also good for the mind and can drive away the dark clouds in normal sadness.

Support those who grieve

Support should be given to people who are in deep grief after the loss of a loved one. However, it is important to keep an emotional safety distance from the griever. That means: Show compassion, but not let yourself be taken in by the state of grief.

Advice like "treat yourself to something good again!" or "It'll be fine!" should be omitted. Trying to talk the mourner out of the mourning inhibits the mourning process and mostly only serves to relieve the grief. Mourners shouldn't be under pressure to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

As in many other areas of life, the same applies to the support of the mourning: Actions speak louder than big words. Small courtesies such as regular phone calls or visits show solidarity and concern. Mourners are also grateful for the silent attention or the mere presence of someone they trust. Advice books on this topic or contact with people who have experienced grief can also have a supportive effect in the grief process.

Herbal remedies for sadness

Herbal remedies can be used for sadness, slight depressive moods and dejection. St. John's wort, for example, has a mood-enhancing effect. Herbal products should not be taken on your own, but should be discussed with the doctor, especially with regard to the dosage. Herbal medications can also have side effects and interactions with other medications. St. John's wort supplements, for example, can make birth control pills and certain asthma medications less effective.

Psychotropic drugs from nature: gentle help for the soul