Why Do I Become Sad for No Reason? Am I Depressed?

Feeling sad isn’t an unusual phenomenon; everyone experiences it at some point in time. Sadness is a natural human emotion usually born from loss or disappointment. It could be due to environmental factors, lifestyle choices, hormones, or underlying mental health conditions such as depression or adjustment disorders.

However, unhappiness doesn’t just pop up for no reason. There’s a reason–you just don’t know what it is yet. Despite that, there are ways you can find out where exactly the feeling is stemming from.

Image from Flickr by Vic

Why Are You Sad?

Sadness is a healthy emotion and a natural reaction to disappointing or upsetting moments or circumstances in life. You may be sad because you lost a loved one, received some bad news, or got disappointed by someone or something.

Although sadness comes in different forms, just like other emotional reactions, it fades with time. The emotional burden you feel can change from day to day as well. Sometimes, sadness can be an unbearable weight. On other days, it could only be light enough that crying it out for a bit is enough to make you feel better. 

Your sadness may remain for a few days or weeks, but it will eventfully ease out naturally. If it lasts for a long time, however, perhaps several weeks or months, and starts to affect your daily life, then that might be depression.

Why Do I Become Sad for No Reason?

When your sadness becomes persistent and casts a shadow on your everyday life, you’re likely to feel devastated and defeated. Sadness that won’t seem to go away can leave you confused. It’s even possible for you to forget what caused your unhappiness in the first place.

If you have no idea how you can be happy again and you feel tired and anxious most of the time, then there must be bigger factors at play. It’s best to determine what’s really bothering you so you can address it accordingly.

Causes of Sadness

There are so many reasons for someone to feel sad. Extreme sadness can be due to the untimely passing of a friend or relative, personal tragedies, health problems, heartbreak, and financial difficulties. You could also feel sad when you’re dissatisfied with your life.

Is It Sadness or Depression?

Sadness and depression are not the same. Depression is a mental illness and a serious clinical diagnosis, while sadness is merely a symptom of depression. Sadness is a negative feeling that could last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days, and depression persists for at least two weeks, causing general distress.

Depression Symptoms

You may be depressed if the following symptoms accompany your sadness:

  • Feeling anxious and empty
  • Pessimism and hopelessness about the future
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, and helpless
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Showing little interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Unexplained aches, physical pain, tension, and digestive issues
  • Sleep problems, either sleeping too much or being unable to sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Slowed movement or speech
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Thoughts of hurting oneself or suicidal thoughts

Genes or family history can contribute to the manifestation of depression. Of course, not everyone who has a family member with depression will develop the condition.

Depression can ultimately change your behavior. Still, you could be depressed and not know it. Some individuals don’t consider the possibility at all because of stigma, or they’re simply in denial.

Types of Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are many types of depression, including major depressive disorder, which impacts 16.1 million Americans. It’s so much more than a feeling of profound sadness.

The symptoms can be highly noticeable depending on the underlying factors causing the condition. When you look at the symptoms, you also have to consider if there’s a pattern in how they manifest. Some underlying factors worth noting are:

Bipolar Disorder

With bipolar disorder, you can be very sad for quite some time and then suddenly notice that you’re extremely happy. This sudden change in your mood could involve:

  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Obsession with activities due to your renewed sense of energy
  • Better self-esteem and more confidence
  • Less need for sleep

Peripartum Depression / Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Symptoms of depression can manifest because of reproductive hormones. If you’re a woman, it’s best to track the symptoms you feel on a monthly basis. Doing this will allow you to provide your doctor with important details about your health condition.

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) symptoms are usually noticeable roughly a week before your period starts. When experiencing symptoms of both PMDD and depression, you could also feel anxiety, paranoia, and panic. You might feel that you’re losing control.
  • During pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth, you may experience perinatal depression. This can cause you to worry about your ability to raise your child. Worse, you may have thoughts of harming yourself or your child.

You can have depression symptoms during perimenopause or the transitional period before menopause. In such cases, you often become tearful, lose interest in your daily activities, and find it difficult to manage stress.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is common in women who’ve just given birth. Despite being happy about having delivered a healthy baby, you may still get into a depressed mood. This type of depression is mainly due to the hormonal changes you’re going through, accompanied by intimidation and inadequacy in raising your child.

This often fades away as your body slowly gets back to its pre-pregnancy state. However, postpartum depression affects each person differently. There are some who experience it for years. Treating it is crucial because it can escalate and lead to more serious mental health problems in the future.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) happens when the seasons change. If you’re affected with SAD, you feel sadder when the nights are longer, such as in autumn and winter. It’s only during the spring and summer seasons that you feel happy.

Symptoms of SAD include: 

  • Being pessimistic, frustrated, and angry about the weather
  • Increased avoidance of public and social gatherings
  • Increased need for sleep and food

Situational Depression

Situational depression is due to the current problems you have in life and not because of hormonal imbalance. For instance, your family has recently experienced losing a loved one. If you have trouble adjusting and accepting the situation, you may become depressed because of it. 

This kind of depression goes away when you’re no longer dealing with the circumstances that triggered it or have already adjusted to what happened.

Major Depression

When you have major depressive disorder, you’re depressed most days of the week. Otherwise known as clinical depression, this may affect the way you think, feel, or behave. Your daily life may not be like it used to be. Your job or academic performance could be affected. If you or a loved one experiences such symptoms, seek help right away to get your life back on track.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depression is a type of depression that lasts for years, and your life with it doesn’t get any easier. If this is left untreated, you can develop other mental health issues that’ll negatively impact your life in the long term.

You May Have Depression Unknowingly

Here are the possible reasons that you may be experiencing depression without knowing it:

  • You’ve been depressed for a long time. In a way, you’ve gotten so used to the feeling that it seems normal to you now. This is possible if your depression started from childhood.
  • You don’t feel sad. But remember that just because you’re not sad, doesn’t mean you’re not depressed. Depression takes many forms apart from simple sadness.
  • Symptoms are slow to develop. Depression doesn’t happen overnight; it progresses gradually over time. One day, you’ll realize that things aren’t what they used to be.
  • You’ve developed internalized attitudes about mental health. Different cultures have different views about depression. There are some that can’t quite understand and recognize depression. Because of this, you might be expected to handle your sadness or depression without complaining and to learn to live with it. Asking for help might be considered a sign of weakness, too.

Tips on Finding Relief From Sadness and Caring for Your Mental Health

If your sadness starts to affect your everyday life or you’ve lost interest in doing the things you love, you should consider consulting a professional. It’s a good idea to start making changes in your life as well. The following strategies may help you feel happier and improve your mental health:

Talk to Friends and Family

When you’re feeling down, you might prefer avoiding most people instead of asking for emotional help and support. You could find yourself wondering if they really do care about you and want to spend time with you.

The thing is, you won’t get relief from sadness if you keep isolating yourself. You have to open up and share your feelings with people you trust. Talking to someone can relieve you of your pain, especially on your darkest days.

Use Humor to Your Advantage

They say laughter is the best medicine. You can use humor and laughter to cope with depression and other mental health problems. Go ahead and watch funny videos, TV shows, or movies to lift up your spirit and put yourself in a positive mood.

Listen to Music

Music can boost your mental health by providing temporary relief from depression symptoms and sadness. Listening to lively, upbeat songs will stimulate your brain to produce happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. It’d be best not to go for sentimental or mournful music since this might only make you feel worse.

Choose Relaxing Activities

When you feel sad, you don’t seem to want to do anything. You may feel unmotivated to engage even in your favorite hobby or pastime.

There’s no need to force yourself to do anything you’re not in the mood for. By opting for less demanding options, you can slowly but surely start to enjoy life again. Less stressful activities you can try are reading a book, doing arts and crafts, and cuddling your pet.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Exposing yourself to sunlight won’t cure you of your sadness or depression. However, constantly getting enough of it may improve your mental and physical well-being. The same goes for exercising outdoors.

You can take a walk around your neighborhood while basking in the beauty of nature. If sunlight is limited in your area, you can undergo light therapy using a SAD lamp, which is like an artificial sun that provides the benefits of real sunlight.

Image from Pxhere

Make a Thank You List

You can put things into perspective by writing down everything you’re thankful for. Because of your busy life, you might forget to stop and be grateful for your daily blessings. There are so many reasons to be thankful each day, so don’t let negative feelings cloud your sunny skies.

Take a Break

You may feel sad because you don’t know how to take it easy. Maybe you’ve forgotten how because you’re caught up in life’s commitments, pressures, and responsibilities. 

Use some of your vacation days to spend time with family and friends. Get a massage and pamper yourself, or go on that adventure trip you’ve been dreaming about for so long. This way, you can release stress and recharge your batteries, enabling you to keep fighting against negative emotions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Coping strategies won’t always be enough to relieve you of your sadness. In that case, it’s recommended to talk to a therapist or healthcare provider. You should get professional support when you notice that the symptoms:

  • Keep coming back regularly and are getting worse
  • Affect your daily activities and relationships
  • Hinder you from accomplishing your responsibilities
  • Affect you physically, such as changes in appetite and unexplainable body pains


Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant drugs after diagnosing depression and ruling out other health conditions. Here are several drugs used for treating depression:

  • Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • Atypical depressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors


Aside from medication, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or a mental health professional specializing in depression. They can recommend either psychotherapy or talk therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common therapy used in addressing depression. CBT is an individualized method that provides a safe environment where you can discover the root cause of your depression and how you can manage it. It focuses on shifting your current emotional perspective to a more positive one.

You might also be encouraged to take part in group therapy or join a support group. This type of therapy will help you see that there are other people who are going through the same difficulties as you are. As a result, you may feel less lonely and isolated.

Talk to a Counselor

Feeling sad doesn’t necessarily mean that you have depression. When you’re depressed, you’re going through something more complicated than simple sadness. Counseling Now will match you with the right therapist or counselor who can evaluate your condition and greatly contribute to your road to recovery.

Counseling and other mental health resources that may just help you overcome depression are available at Counseling Now. We offer online mental health services in Ohio for your convenience. With us, you don’t have to go to in-care treatment facilities to get the guidance you deserve. 

During online counseling, feel free to let your counselor know about any patterns you’ve noticed with your symptoms. On days when you don’t have an appointment, you can log those patterns and track your depressive moods in a journal.

Open up to your counselor if you find that your sadness tends to linger. The key to healing is being patient and understanding toward yourself. After all, that feeling of sadness isn’t bound to last forever.

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