Is Being Sad Healthy?

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated August 15, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Patricia Corlew , LMFT, LPC,

Being sad isn't something that most people enjoy. However, sadness isn't something that should be avoided at all costs. Being sad can be healthy for us.

Desperate For Feelings Of Sadness To Go Away?

The Difference Between Sadness And Depression

The key to benefiting from sadness is to know the difference between being sad and experiencing symptoms of depression. There is a difference between being depressed and feeling sad. Where sadness is good for you, depression is not. Some people may describe depression as feeling sad, but it's a lot more than that.

Sadness is a normal feeling that every person experiences. Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health challenge. Depression can make you feel numb and unresponsive to the world around you, but sadness is a normal emotion evoked as part of a healthy mind. The difficulty comes when the sadness becomes overwhelming.

Why You Shouldn't Bury Your Feelings

One tactic that some people use when they are uncomfortable with their feelings is to bury them. This is a dangerous tactic to use. When you bury your feelings of sadness, you aren't properly dealing with them. That means that they don't go away. You may be able to trick yourself into thinking that you are ok, but those buried feelings will come out sooner or later. When you wait until later to deal with difficult situations, it can often make them more difficult to process through.

Therefore, even though you may not like the way it feels to be sad, there are many reasons why you want to allow yourself to experience those feelings. The most important reason is that it's the proper way to handle some situations and come out mentally and emotionally healthy on the other side.

Here are several ways that being sad is healthy for you.

Sadness Teaches You How To Cope

Being sad teaches us how to cope. It allows us to process what is going on and sometimes take a needed time out. Happiness is a signal our brains give us when everything is good and tells us we can continue as we are, but when our brains signal a negative, it is a moment to pause and be alert. Negative emotions make us more focused and are better for processing information.

Studies have shown that subconsciously this is something our brain knows. This explains why we often feel a lowered mood when we are anticipating an anxious situation.

Being Sad Boosts Your Memory

When we feel happy, our memory is not as effective as it is when we are sad. Not that you want to make yourself sad so that you can boost your memory. But if you are already sad, it might help you to remember the details of your environment and situation better.

Sadness Can Motivate You

When we are happy, it is easier to compromise on goals that we want to achieve or things that we want to do. If we feel good about our situation, there is less motivating us to make a change. However, if we are experiencing feelings of sadness, it can motivate us to look for ways to improve our situation.

Sadness Improves Our Judgement

Studies have also shown that sadness improves our judgment. It has been found that when we are happy, our judgment can be clouded. We make decisions more impulsively. However, when we are sad, we tend to slow down and look at entire situations before deciding.

All moods have a purpose, even the ones that we dislike. There is cultural pressure to be happy all the time, which is very artificial and unhealthy. Humans have more emotions than happiness, and making those who experience sadness feel they are not normal is unfair and unrealistic. Sadness and even depressive thoughts are normal in their correct context as a coping method. In fact, according to Psychology Today, humans have 4 recognized human emotions, sadness, happiness, fear, and anger.

Sadness Is A Coping Mechanism

Many people mistakenly believe that if you are sad, it means that you aren't coping properly. Being sad does not mean you aren't coping. Instead, it means that you are coping healthily, provided it does not last too long. It allows you to think, process, and find the best way to move on from the sadness so you can be positive again.

It's unrealistic for people to be happy at all times. And, there are many situations in life when being sad is the appropriate emotional response. It can be a red flag if a person doesn't show signs of sadness in these situations. The important thing is to recognize when temporary sadness has gone on for too long and becomes depression.

How To Know When It's Not Healthy

If your low mood is not lifting after a while, then the sadness you feel may have become depressed, especially if it interrupts your normal day-to-day life. The hard part is there is no set deadline on when you should stop experiencing feelings of sadness. How long these feelings last could depend on your natural level of resiliency, the reason you are sad, and what type of help you are getting.

Mild Depression can be hard to self-diagnose, which is why you may want to consider professional help. If your sadness has begun to consume you, it's a problem. Signs of depression include loss of appetite, withdrawal from people and activities you used to like, digestive issues, feelings of emptiness, and sleeping problems from either sleeping too much or not enough.

Getting Professional Help

If you think that you might be showing signs of depression or feel that your sadness is taking over, it's best to talk to a licensed therapist to get the help you need. You could do this through a local therapist or a site like BetterHelp, which provides online and phone counseling options. There is nothing shameful about seeking help. If you feel stuck in your sadness, the faster you recognize the risk, the less likely you are to continue a spiral down into severe depression.

You should allow yourself to be sad, but not as much as letting it get in the way of living. The ability to experience and recognize sadness is good and should be encouraged because it shows empathy and humanity. Even if your sadness feels overwhelming right now, try to embrace it as a temporary thing and part of who you are. Being sad isn't weak; it's natural, even healthy, and at times it's even necessary if you want to experience everything in life.

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