Feeling down? Got the blues? You're not alone.
gets sad. Yes, everyone you've ever met. Some people have sad
feelings just once in a while, and others may have sad feelings
pretty often. More than half of teenagers go through a sad period
at least once a month and plenty of younger kids do, too.
When you're in a sad mood, it may feel like it will last
forever, but usually feelings of sadness don't last very long -
a few hours or maybe a day or two. A deeper, more intense kind of
sadness that lasts a lot longer is called
What Is Sadness?
Sadness is a feeling - it's one of the many normal human
emotions, or moods, we all have. Sadness is the emotion people feel
when they've lost something important, or when they have been
disappointed about something, or when something sad has happened to
them or to someone else. When they're lonely, people often feel
When you're sad, the world may seem dark and unfriendly. You
might feel like you have nothing to look forward to. The hurt deep
inside may crush your usually good mood.
Sadness makes you feel like crying, and sometimes the tears are
hard to stop. Crying often makes you feel better.
Sometimes when your mood is sad, you just feel like being alone
for a little while. Or you might want someone to comfort you or
just keep you company while you go through the sad feeling. Talking
about what has made you sad usually helps the sad feeling melt
When sadness starts to go away, it can feel like a heavy blanket
is being lifted from your shoulders.
When Is It Natural to Feel Sad?
Feeling sad every once in a while is natural. Maybe you
didn't get something you really wanted. Maybe you miss
somebody. Maybe somebody you really like doesn't want to be
friends, and you don't feel so great about yourself. Maybe an
illness or condition gets in the way of doing some things you want
to do or makes you different from your friends. There are lots of
reasons that people feel sadness.
Most of the time, sadness is because of a loss or separation, a
difficult change or disappointment about something, or relationship
Loss and Separation
This is the most common cause of sadness. It's a very sad
thing to lose someone or something that you care about. There are
many kinds of loss. The
of a relative, friend, or
can bring weeks or months of sad feelings. The kind of sadness you
feel from the death of a loved one has a special name - grief.
Other kinds of loss or separation from important people can also
bring sadness, like people close to you getting a
. Sometimes it is hard to think straight because you cannot get
your mind off your loss. Usually, the load of sadness you carry
after a loss will lighten over time, although for a really big
loss, there may always be a little bit of sadness left.
Changes that involve leaving something (or someone) behind, like
to a new town or changing schools and leaving old friends can make
you feel sad, too. The arrival of a new brother or sister may make
you feel sad even though everyone thinks you should be happy to
Disappointments like losing a game you hoped to win, getting a
poor grade, or not being invited to a party can cause sadness.
Sadness is a natural reaction to those things. How sad a person
feels is usually related to how big or small the loss or
Relationships bring happiness and fun much of the time. But
tension or conflict in important relationships, or relationships
that break up, can cause sadness, too. Many kids fight with family
members, especially their parents, in the struggle to grow up and
People often feel sad when all is not right between them and
their loved ones, or when they get criticized or yelled at a lot.
They fight about things like money, clothing, haircuts, school, and
friends. In school, problems with teachers and grades may cause
some sadness as well.
More Stuff That Makes Kids Sad
Other kids, both friends and enemies, can cause hurt feelings
and sadness through fighting,
, not giving you support, or leaving you out of group activities.
Feeling misunderstood by people close to you can lead to feelings
Sometimes with sadness, there are other feelings mixed in, too.
When you're sad, you might also feel
or guilty. You might feel like blaming others or blaming yourself.
Some kids mistakenly think that sad events like death, illness, or
divorce are all their fault - but this isn't true. Kids
don't cause these things to happen.
When Is Sadness a Problem?
If a sad feeling goes on for too long, hurts too deeply, and
makes it hard for you to enjoy the good things about your life,
it's called depression.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of depression:
- feeling empty or numb
- feeling hopeless (like there's nothing to look forward
- feeling guilty or worthless
- feeling lonely or unloved
- feeling irritable and annoyed a lot (every little thing gets
on your nerves)
- feeling like things are not fun anymore
- having trouble keeping your mind on schoolwork or homework or
getting bad grades
- having trouble keeping your mind on things like reading or
watching TV or not remembering what a book or a TV show was
- having less energy and feeling tired all the time
- sleeping too much or not enough
- not eating enough and weight loss or eating too much and
- thinking about death or thinking about suicide
- spending less time with friends and more time alone
- crying a lot, often for no reason
- feeling restless (being unable to sit still or relax)
- having certain body feelings, like lots of stomachaches,
, or chest pain
People who have depression may not even know it. Often it's
a parent or teacher who notices behavior changes like the ones in
the list above. Depression can run in families. Having a parent who
gets depressed makes it more likely for a kid to become
Some kids have depression after the loss of someone really
close, such as a parent; long-lasting problems at home, including
violence, illness, divorce, or
or neglect; rape; and long-term illness, burns, or accidents. But
sometimes kids may be depressed for no apparent reason.
Kids, teens, and adults can get depression. It's very
important for people of any age who have depression to get help.
When they do, they can get better quickly. Sometimes treatment
involves talking to someone who knows all about depression.
Sometimes medications can help depression heal. Sometimes both of
these things are used.
If you think you have depression or you just have sadness that
simply will not go away, it is important to
to an adult about it: a parent, relative, doctor, teacher, guidance
counselor, coach, or close adult friend. This person can help
you find the right type of treatment. Many cities also have mental
health hotlines or suicide hotlines that are listed in the phone
book. There is
somebody to talk to when you are sad or if you are depressed -
somebody who can help.
David V. Sheslow, PhD
Date reviewed: November 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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