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Sadness is an emotion that is part of the human experience and occurs from time to time as a normal reaction to changes and challenges that are painful. This emotional experience is usually temporary and fades with time.

It is normal to feel down when you find yourself experiencing challenges during your time at Clemson and in life. Loneliness, stress, loss and uncertainty can trigger feelings of sadness that may seem overwhelming at times but generally become more manageable as you adjust to changes and find your stride. Sometimes, sadness can significantly affect your functioning in various areas of life, making it difficult or even impossible to experience enjoyment for weeks on end. When sadness lasts more than a couple of weeks, and includes constant thoughts about death as well as suicidal thoughts or actions, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression.

Sadness is an emotion that can be painful to experience but reminds us about the things we value. It is natural to feel sad after difficult experiences like a breakup, dissatisfaction with grades or academic performance, difficulty adjusting to being away from home, and even for what seems like no good reason at all. Sadness may present as one to two weeks of:

  • Feeling down after something doesn’t go as you expect or experiencing loss.
  • Feeling tired and wanting to stay in bed longer than usual.
  • Crying and keeping to yourself.
  • Feeling hollow and empty.

If these feelings persist after two weeks and you notice:

  • Constant feelings of exhaustion.
  • Major changes in your sleep and diet.
  • Loss of interest in people, places and things you once enjoyed.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

You may be experiencing symptoms of depression.

Lean In

Instead of suppressing or avoiding feelings of sadness, it is important to acknowledge this emotion, remind yourself that it is okay and express it in a healthy way. Letting yourself feel this emotion may look like crying, writing your thoughts and feelings out in a journal, or putting them into a piece of art or music. Remember to be compassionate with yourself when you notice you feel down. Sadness is a part of life and while uncomfortable, can teach us something new about what we hold close.

Reach Out 

Sharing your feelings with friends and loved ones who can validate your experience and support you through a difficult time is a helpful way to improve your mood. Sadness may result in feelings to withdraw and isolate, but engaging with the world around us and being present while doing things that make us feel good (like participating in a fun event, physical activity or doing something that helps you feel confident and competent) can decrease some of these feelings of sadness and remind you of other things that you value and can enjoy. If you have tried these coping skills and your sadness persists, it may be time to seek therapeutic services with CAPS or a community therapy provider.