Sadness is normal, inevitable part of every person’s life. The unpleasant, gloom feeling is important to maintain the balance of life – imagine how the world would look like if everyone would be happy, all the time? It is not so fortunate scenario, although it may seem attractive, on the first glance. People who are sad logically think everything would be beautiful if the world was a happier place.
However, we all have our own personal concerns, things, situations, circumstances and people that occasionally make us feel sad and desperate. Our struggle to get happy and relaxed is what makes our world go round, in a way. A sense for compassion and understanding is the things that make us humans. Care about others makes people feel they have a purpose and improve their own emotional and mental characteristic. Sadness and joy are important to make us value both the good and bad things in life. Without darkness, there is no light. A quite common saying and a cliché, but with the essential life-giving truth within.
What is sadness?
We are all familiar with occasional feeling of sadness, lack of inspiration and motivation. To that point, you could easily notice someone you love is being sad and feeling down, even if you don’t find an obvious reason. In most of the cases, you would know a particular events, situations or other issues caused the person you care about to feel sad. Great life changing experiences, breakups of all sorts, diseases, money issues and so on are all the factors that normally make an average human being feeling down from time to time. Keeping the positive state of mind is of a vital importance to go through the tough period. Support of friends and family is also of a great significance. A person who has someone to rely on is the richest person on Earth.
You’ve noticed your beloved one appears a bit down during the last several days or maybe longer. You’ve may not paid attention to the situation at first. However, as days pass and the person doesn’t seem to get cheerful or at least as usual, you normally start to worry. There are situations when a person wouldn’t tell you anything about their concerns and negative emotions, but keep looking quite sad. If you’ve waited for some time them to openly express their dissatisfaction and they didn’t, maybe you should ask them what is going on. If they tell you the reason in the beginning or when you ask them, try to help them better understand the situation, in order to move on. There will be advices and tips on the subject in further reading.
Difference between sadness and depression
The first thing to determine when you’ve noticed a dear person is feeling sad for some time is whether it is an unpleasant, but normal and natural reaction to some dissatisfying moment in the person’s life or it is a more complex mental condition, such as depression. Support is important in both cases, but not of the same intensity and the way of expressing it.
While occasional sadness or even periods of feeling unmotivated and uninspired by joys of life, depression is a more complex state of a person’s mind. Depression is a form of behavioral disorder. It is not a disease, but an undesirable mental condition that needs to be managed as soon as possible. There are several levels of depression, in terms of its length, frequency and a particular form of appearance.
According to psychological science’s classification, depression is diagnosed when the period of constant sadness, accompanied with complete loss of life verve and ability to enjoy normal everyday things lasts more than two weeks. If the sadness occurs without any logical reason and without an exact cause or the intensity of reaction to some sad event is disproportionate to its nature and the behavior lengthens for a time, it could also be associated with depression. A depressed person completely lose the will to get involved in social situation, they neglect their physical state and appearance, the usually find difficult to sleep and get rest, even if they appear to sleep for hours and hours. Depressed people withdraw from social life; they don’t care about their health, work and even their beloved ones.
On the other hand, a sad person expresses a normal level of dissatisfaction with their current life position or some particular event or situation. It usually doesn’t last long. There are moments in life when all of us get sad. Cases such as death of a relative or friend, loss of both material and emotional nature, disappointment for not achieving our goals and similar are quite logical and usual triggers of sadness. The sadness usually lasts shorter than two weeks and it gradually fades as time goes on.
How to help a sad person?
Now when you’ve determined what the real nature of one’s sadness is, you certainly wonder how to comfort her or him. It is important to be familiar with your own worries and concerns and be able to put them aside for some time, but without feeling you’re neglecting them or suppress. If your current goal is to comfort a sad friend, relative or other dear person, you mustn’t burden them with other worries.
Approach them reasonably and with a clear mind. Be compassionate, but don’t get drowned within their sadness.
Approaching the sad person
Someone you know and love is appearing sad and gloom for several days, but he or she doesn’t tell you anything about it. Maybe they don’t want to burden you, but it is normal you feel pretty anxious because you don’t know what is going on and you wish to help them. It is ok to ask a person what is it about. Approach gently, but rationally. Speak in normal tone of your voice and don’t sound weepy. This is not helpful at all, because it seems you’re giving very much importance to the negative cause that makes a person feel sad.
Listen and talk
Sometimes a sad person would tell you straightaway the reasons of their low energy and bad mood. In this case, be a good listener. Let the person express their dissatisfaction and explain why is it so. Disturbing life events, such as death, breakup, discoveries of serious disease or conditions, material and emotional losses are all ‘good’ causes and triggers of sadness. Minor life obstacles, such as workplace issues, family quarrels, conflicts of all sorts, including daily annoyances, could also be a good explanation for feeling sad and down. Listen what the parson has to say and try to give advices on how to cope with situation. Don’t get aggressive if your advices are rejected. Listen, advise, but don’t get too deep.
Ask and listen
If the person doesn’t tell you what is going on, it is ok to ask. Don’t put additional pressure to a fragile person. Just reasonably ask what is it about. If the person answers you, listen the same way as you would do if they’ve told you straightaway. In both cases, it is important to draw the line. You can’t them talk about it forever. If you let them so, the significance of the issue increases and proportionally increases the level of tension and anxiety. People tend to make such mistakes out of compassion and love for others, without thinking it could actually be harmfull and that it would most likely prolong the undesirable condition. Sometimes, letting the sad person to completely dive into their sadness may lead to serious problems, such as depression.
Compassion and reasonability
After you’ve learned the causes of a dear person’s sadness, try to keep clear mind, no matter of the negative experience’s importance. The only important thing is that you know why someone is sad and he or she is also aware of that. Be supportive and compassionate, but try to keep your own concerns about the matter for yourself. This is particularly important in serious situations, such as death in the family or in the circle of dear people, diseases, major emotional and material loss. It may be difficult, but it is actually a lot more helpful than drowning in sadness along with an already sad individual. Be rational and reasonable. Ask the person if there is there something you could do to please them, but keep it to moderation. Don’t let them relax to the point it may significantly affect their overall life. A certain amount of friendly kindness and pampering would be comforting and helpful.
You may want to do something to cheer the sad person up and bring smile on their face. Do something simple and nice, nothing to pompous and glamorous. Minor things could often be more effective in changing the course of negative flow than big, luxurious gifts or such. Buy them their favorite sweets or suggest watching some movie together or else you know the person might like. Make them go for a relaxing walk with you or just talk about regular, daily things.
Sometimes, talking about insignificant matters could greatly help a person return to their usual way of thinking, without giving an over importance to issues that troubles them. That doesn’t mean you’re both neglecting them, just making them more down to earth and easier to later manage.