“Why Do I Feel Sad All The Time?” Understanding Depression And How It Affects You

Updated March 14, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Everyone feels sad sometimes; it’s a standard part of the human experience. However, like most emotions, your sadness is meant to be a temporary feeling. It should be intense right after the event causing it. Then, as time passes, you should be able to process the emotion and adjust to a new normal as it fades and you move forward. Read on to learn how to recognize the signs of depression and how therapy can help you find ways to cope with your feelings so you can function. 

What Is Depression?

According to the medical experts at the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a serious mental health condition common among children, adolescents, and adults worldwide. Mood disorders, the category of mental health disorders including depression, can negatively affect how you think, feel, and behave. While there is no cure for depression, the condition is treatable. 

For those living with depression, their sadness isn’t temporary. It lingers and casts its shadow over every part of their lives, making it impossible to take pleasure from or be interested in activities they used to enjoy. Depression can cause or contribute to various physical and emotional problems and often has a substantial negative impact on your ability to function at home, work, school, or socially.

Do You Feel Sad All The Time And Don’t Know What To Do?

Common Depression Symptoms

  • Intense or overwhelming sadness or hopelessness

  • Anhedonia, or loss of pleasure and interest in things you used to enjoy

  • Restlessness or feelings of anxiety

  • Reacting with frustration, anger, or irritability to insignificant issues

  • Sleeping too much or not enough

  • Changes to your eating habits, often with weight loss or gain

  • Persistently low energy and fatigue, so even small tasks take extra effort

  • Slower speech, thoughts, and movement

  • Feelings of worthlessness, undue guilt, or fixation on past failures

  • Trouble thinking, remembering, making decisions, and concentrating

  • Unexplained physical pain with no apparent cause

  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation—This requires immediate treatment. 

  • Symptoms persist through most of the day, every day, and are severe enough to cause functional impairment in one or more areas of your life. 

  • To receive a depression diagnosis, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. 

— The Mayo Clinic

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 988 and is available 24/7.

Are There Different Kinds Of Depression?

The National Institute of Mental Health lists numerous depression subtypes found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This class of mental health condition is generally believed to be caused by an imbalance of neurochemicals in the brain in combination with environmental factors. 

Major Depressive Disorder — You experience the symptoms of depression listed above a majority of the time for a period of at least two weeks. Your symptoms typically interfere with your ability to function in multiple areas of your life—working, sleeping, studying, and eating.  

Bipolar Disorder— You experience alternating cycles of depression and periods of manic energy and exacerbated symptoms. This condition was formerly called manic depression. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder— Intense depression symptoms that coincide with seasonal changes. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder— Less severe symptoms of depression typically lasting two years or longer. This condition is also called dysthymia. 

Postpartum Depression Disorder— Severe depression symptoms in parents after childbirth or welcoming a child into the home. While generally considered a condition experienced by women after giving birth, fathers and adoptive or foster parents can also experience postpartum depression.

Situational Depression— Some people may experience depression concerning a situation they are going through rather than due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This type of depression may be linked to changes in your life, such as moving, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or ending a relationship. 

How Is Depression Treated?

According to the World Health Organization, depression is often treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both approaches, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Your mental healthcare provider will develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs and circumstances, with therapies focused on addressing your specific issues. 

“Without treatment, depression can get worse and last longer. In severe cases, it can lead to self-harm or death by suicide. The good news is that treatments can be very effective in improving symptoms.” — The Cleveland Clinic

Helping A Loved One With Depression

It can be challenging to watch someone you care about having a tough time, but there are numerous ways you can support a loved one with depression. 

  • Start by educating yourself about their specific condition if they have a diagnosis or learn about depression in general if they don’t. Understanding the symptoms and how they can affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and actions can help you decide what help to offer. Look to see where they’re struggling and start with suggestions that can provide some relief where it’s needed. 

  • People with depression may have a hard time asking for help. Try to remember that when making open-ended offers. Instead of asking if you can come by “some time” to talk, try to set a specific time and text a reminder later. 

  • When you sit down to talk about their depression, listen to their concerns without judgment. They may not want advice, so ask how you can best support them. It can be as simple as asking, “Do you want advice or for me to just listen?” 

  • Offer patience, positivity, and open communication. People with depression often face challenges maintaining social contact and may isolate themselves when symptoms are intense. Try to meet their emotional frustrations with compassion and understanding when they’re having a rough day due to depression symptoms. 

  • Help connect them with mental health resources. Even searching for a therapist can be overwhelming for people with depression. Offer to help them with the search and attend appointments with them if they want support. 

  • Offer to help with some of the daily tasks or to accompany them on errands to make the mundane more enjoyable. Depression can negatively impact energy levels, and they may find it hard to clean, cook a healthy meal, or manage social interactions. 

  • Continue inviting them to outings. Depression can make it extremely difficult to enjoy social gatherings or take an interest in the things they used to enjoy. However, that doesn’t mean they always want to be excluded. Make the invites and be understanding if they can’t make it. 

Tips To Cope With Depression

  • Keep a journal to write about your emotions. The act of writing can be therapeutic because it requires you to recognize your feelings and understand how they affect you. It also lets you track your emotional triggers and which coping skills worked. 

  • Prioritize self-care

  • Reshape your outlook to take advantage of the power of positive thinking. 

  • Practice a mindful lifestyle emphasizing emotional awareness, balance, and control. 

  • Work with a qualified therapist to continue developing your coping skills. 

Avoid Maladaptive Coping Strategies

Just because something works right now doesn’t mean it solves your problem, is a healthy choice, or actually helps you. For example, alcohol or substance use may numb you to the effects of your symptoms for a while, but many people often feel worse afterward and frequently find themselves with a new set of problems. Harmful, maladaptive coping skills generally include impulsive, risky, or self-destructive behaviors used to escape or deal with negative or difficult emotions.

Do You Feel Sad All The Time And Don’t Know What To Do?

How Therapy Can Help You Manage Depression Symptoms

If you’re experiencing persistent sadness and other depression symptoms, consider working with a licensed therapist through online platforms like BetterHelp. Licensed mental health professionals can provide the proper treatment and guide you on some things to do when feeling sad or depressed. If your child is showing depression symptoms, TeenCounseling treats adolescents from 12 to 19 online. Therapy can help you learn to identify harmful behaviors and thought patterns so you can shift to healthier habits with the support and guidance of a mental health professional. 

Recent studies show that online psychotherapy for depression can be a viable alternative to treatments in the traditional office setting, delivering similar results frequently at a lower cost and shorter wait time. Many patients said the convenience of teletherapy made it possible to attend more sessions, which can increase the effectiveness and duration of therapeutic outcomes. Patients also frequently said the added physical distance of online therapy made it easier to open up emotionally to their therapist. 

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Sadness is part of life, but if you’re feeling sad all the time, you may have depression. The information presented in this article may help you understand depression, its symptoms, and how therapy can help you manage your feelings and cope with stressors so you can enjoy your life.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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