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Am I Simply Sad, or Is It Something More?

By Erica Patino
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
September 13, 2022

Everyone gets sad from time to time, whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, personal struggles, upsetting events or news headlines, or a combination of circumstances. And although there’s nothing wrong with being sad, if the feeling persists for long enough, it may be important to seek professional support for your mental well‑being. That’s because lasting sadness can be a sign of depression.

What Is Sadness?

Even though sadness can get a bad rap, it’s an emotion just like happiness, fear, and joy. It’s a natural response that can be a healthy part of coping with feelings of loss or disappointment. However, sadness is different from feelings of depression because it’s temporary.

Depending on the intensity of the feelings, sadness may last from a couple of hours to a few weeks, says Tess Brigham, a licensed therapist based in San Francisco.