One of the basic emotions is sadness. It is an emotion that is shared by all people at a certain point in their lives.

It is a reaction that is expressed physiologically and psychically . A response that is generated from a stimulus as a negative event, but also because of the accumulation of thoughts that are aversive.

All emotions are equally described as a direct response to stimuli that can be positive as well as negative. In the case of sadness, it responds directly to situations that generate a low mood. However, in some cases it can bring pleasure to some people; but this depends on the origin and cause of the stimulus .

What is sadness?

Sadness is defined as an acute state of mind . It is a reaction that arises from a damaging circumstance on a psychological level. It differs from fear, in that it tries to anticipate an event that has not yet happened. On the other hand, sadness corresponds directly to an event that has had negative consequences; according to the criteria or perception of the person.

Sadness is associated with crying and is responsible for other affective expressions that generate concern. Notably, there is an impossibility to satisfy a basic need. It is usually the result of loss , failure, disappointment, absence, or loss of control.

General characteristics 

It is described as a negative emotion that affects the emotional state of the person. It is identified from sensations such as fatigue and general malaise , therefore, there is a decrease in the physical activity of the person. In some cases, sensations are included in the abdominal and pectoral area, some could describe it as a feeling of “emptiness” or pain.

One of its main characteristics is to negatively affect the self – esteem of the person. For this reason, there is an increase in the need to isolate oneself and manifest introspection. It also affects attention span, which is markedly decreased. In addition, the motivation to carry out certain habitual activities disappears completely.

Some of the signs of sadness show up physically . There are noticeable changes in the respiratory rhythm, a considerable increase in the heart rate as well as in the blood pressure. In some cases, an increase in muscle tone is observed, as well as dry skin and eyes.

The characteristic facial expression of sadness is the descent of the corner of the lips and the descent of the gaze. The people sadly avoid making eye contact with others. In addition, the body is slow to perform any movement.

On the other hand, verbal communication decreases markedly, the fluency and tone of the voice do not correspond to what the person usually does.

It is also characterized by the feeling of melancholy . This is associated with the inability to experience some kind of pleasure. The high state of pessimism and disinterest are other relevant aspects. There are also problems memorizing new information, this is combined with insomnia that also affects proper brain function .

Negative feelings such as hopelessness and helplessness are typical of sadness. Nervousness and altered mood are evident . In some cases there is starvation , lack of appetite, which seriously violates the entire body system. Lack of physical activity can lead to other medical conditions.

Causes and consequences of sadness

There are several types of triggers that promote the appearance of sadness. Some peculiarities of the psychology of some types of people make them more prone . The same happens with the social environment , in this way increasing the possibility due to different types of affective problems. The most common causes are described below:

  • Loss of a material asset or a close person. The person considers that they have lost something valuable .
  • The adverse situations in which negative results are obtained, usually one of the main causes.
  • Other emotions, such as rage and anger , can trigger periods in which sadness is experienced.
  • Some patterns of a person’s personality can make them more prone to this emotion. This is the case of people who suffer from neuroticism and low self-esteem.
  • Certain cognitive schemas . People who easily experience pessimistic thoughts are the most prone.
  • The sociocultural environment influences the generation of this emotion. When a person is part of a social group that does not allow him to experience positive situations, this is one of the most common causes today.
  • People who have a demanding personality are easily prone to this emotion. This occurs due to the poor ability to adapt to changes.
  • When people are exposed to sad events , they will therefore react in the same way.

As for the consequences that sadness generates, there is a wide spectrum of possibilities . As a percentage, the majority of people who have experienced long depressive periods have problems to overcome them.

Perhaps the most serious effects occur on a mental level, but they can also be seen physically; and in the way in which affective relationships drastically change. Some of the most relevant causes are described below:

  • Generates errors in thought processes . It has been found that deficiencies are beginning to be experienced in order to solve interpersonal problems.
  • The social isolation also creates changes in behavior . In some cases social integration may take time and re-learn certain communication skills .
  • People permanently begin to have negative thoughts and attitudes . Exams and psychological help allow you to overcome this stage.
  • It generates functional moderation , this means that the activity decreases markedly in the individual. Slowness or lethargy are some of the words used to define this state.

You also have to consider that some of the consequences can bring benefits. Not all cases are similar, so it cannot be assumed that it will always have negative consequences. These are some of the consequences that allow us to contribute positive aspects to the lives of people who suffer from sadness:

  • The functional level is attenuated , this implies that people stop acting impulsively.
  • The focus is on personal well-being . People usually begin to act in a more responsible way, trying to find solutions to some problems that have been pending to be solved.
  • Social support begins to be sought . Sadness promotes closer communication with the environment, in this way others can feel empathy .
  • Constructive analysis is facilitated , introspection is an action that promotes the search for a solution to a conflict.

What is the importance of the study of sadness in psychology? 

For psychology it is important to study both the origin and the consequences of sadness. It is considered an emotion that is aversive , due to the way in which it affects the emotional and physical state of the person.

But you also have to consider that it manifests itself in different ways. Some psychologists consider that several stages or states are experienced. It could even be said that there may be secondary benefits , this is because sadness promotes reflection.

It could help people find a way to overcome a particular situation. That is, although sadness significantly reduces the person’s mental and physical activity, this does not prevent the decision to make changes that stimulate the search for a solution .

This is a beneficial aspect, since by saving physical energy it favors the performance of mental activities that motivate the strengthening of the will . Sadness is capable of making the person enter a state of introspection, this is how personal aspects are analyzed in depth.

It has been proven that after experiencing a long depressive period, some people manage to learn psychological skills that allow them to face adversity in a better way. The perception of improvement influences self-esteem.

It also helps to generate compassion and empathy, in those around a person who is experiencing this emotion. This is how it fulfills a protective function .

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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