Are My Feelings Normal?


It is normal to feel sad when something has upset you or when you are facing a difficult loss or situation. Everyone feels sad from time to time, usually for an identifiable reason (e. g. a break-up) or because they are just generally feeling down. Typically, though, these feelings of sadness go away or get better over a short period of time, and usually don’t get in the way of taking care of your everyday responsibilities.


Should I be Worried?

If you can’t explain your feelings of sadness (i. e. they don’t seem connected to anything specific), if they won’t go away, and if these feelings are getting in the way of your relationships or things you need to do, you may have more than just the “blues”. You may be experiencing depression, if you are also experiencing some of the following signs:

  •  Feeling tearful and sad
  •  Losing interest in things you used to like to do
  •  Feeling excessively tired, “blah” or having no energy
  •  Feeling agitated and restless
  •  Feeling worthless, guilty or hopeless
  •  Feeling numb or empty [Numbness]
  •  Having thoughts of hurting yourself or wishing you were dead
  •  Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  •  Big changes in your sleeping habits (sleeping too little or too much)
  •  Big changes in your eating habits (eating too little or too much, gaining or losing weight)

If you are experiencing some of these signs for longer than two weeks, you should speak to a doctor or counselor to find out if you may be depressed. Only a doctor can diagnose depression, but a counselor may be able to help with your symptoms.  Don’t let people tell you that you are “just being a teenager” or that you are being “dramatic”; if you think that your feelings aren’t normal, then they probably aren’t. But, do listen when others tell you that they are worried about you, and don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help when you think you might need it.

Feelings of depression often occur with feelings of worry or anxiety. This can lead to a bad cycle of feeling worried all the time, feeling sad and hopeless about your life, and feeling completely “stuck”. If this is happening to you, you should talk to someone about this. If you don’t know where to start, try speaking with a family member or your school social worker, who can help connect you with a doctor if you need one. Depression often doesn’t go away on it’s own, but it can get better if you get help.


Tips for Prevention and Wellness

There are several things you can try to help you deal with feelings of sadness. Some examples are:

  •  Spending time or talking with friends or loved ones
  •  Exercising (e. g. walking, running, taking a class)
  •  Participating in activities you typically enjoy (e. g. hobbies, extra curricular activities)
  •  Journaling or writing (e. g. stories, poetry)
  •  Drawing, painting or sculpting
  •  Singing, rapping, or doing spoken-word
  •  Playing sports
  •  Getting out of the house (e. g. take a walk, go to the store, visit a friend)
  •  Doing other things you are good at

You may be looking at this list and saying “ya right—I don’t feel like doing any of those things”, but that’s just the point! Although it may sound weird, when you are feeling sad or depressed, it is important to push yourself to do exactly what you don’t feel like doing. This is because being active is what will help you feel better over time. It may be tempting to stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head, but this will likely only make you feel worse. Getting outside, taking a walk, catching up with friends or being active can help lift your mood, even if all of this seems really hard to do at first. Talking to someone, like a trusted friend or maybe a counselor, can also be very helpful. If you are finding that none of these strategies are helping, it may be time to speak to a doctor, because medication can be helpful in certain situations of depression. Although sadness and depression can be very hard to deal with, taking steps to be active and to get help can help you feel normal again, one step at a time.


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