Feeling sad without knowing why

Sometimes we get sad, or even start crying, and don’t have a clue why. Ever experienced unexplained crying, sadness, or stress? Find out how to work out why, and what to do next if you just can’t figure things out.

This can help with:

  • Understanding what can cause sadness
  • Figuring out how to identify the causes of sadness
  • Working out why you’re feeling crap

Figuring out the cause of your sadness is important

When you understand the cause of a negative feeling like sadness, you can do something about it. But if you can’t figure out the reason that you feel sad, it’s hard to take control of the feeling.

Feeling sad is something that everyone experiences, but it’s not exactly a fun experience, so working out how to overcome a sad feeling is a great idea. While it could pass on its own, it doesn’t always, and feeling sad for an extended period of time isn’t great for your emotional health.

How to work out why you’re sad

If you’re trying to work out why you might be feeling sad, here are some things you should consider:

  • There may be more than one thing that is causing you to feel sad.
  • Talking to someone you trust, like a friend or a family member, could help you figure out some of the causes.
  • Tracking your thoughts by writing down your feelings. The causes of your sadness could become more obvious.

It might also help if you have an idea of the types of things/events that can cause sadness in different people. These can include:

  • Going through something stressful
  • Experiencing grief or loss
  • Being around people going through tough times
  • Arguing with someone
  • Problems at school/uni/work
  • Big life changes e.g. moving house
  • Caring for someone who is unwell
  • Being bored
  • Being unwell
  • Having a medical condition or chronic illness
  • Not sleeping well
  • Not exercising enough
  • Hormonal changes  

If you can use this this list to help you to identify one or a couple of things which may be contributing to your sadness, then you are in a better position to overcome your feelings. Problem solving strategies can be really helpful to overcoming some issues. If the cause of your sadness isn’t really something that can be solved, you might need to focus on developing coping strategies instead.

If you still can’t figure it out

Talk to someone you trust. Friends or family who know you well might have some insights about your feelings which you can’t identify yourself. It will also help to talk to an expert, like a counsellor. Speaking to a counsellor will make the process of figuring out what’s going on much easier for you. They can guide you through strategies to overcome your sadness and will be able to tell if something more serious is going on.

It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with. Try ReachOut NextStep to learn about the support options available for you.

If you want to hear from others, watch this 3 minute video about young people coping with feeling stressed, anxious, worried or down. 

What can I do now?

  • To see things clearer, write down everything that makes you sad.
  • Get personalised support options for feeling sad with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well.
  • Talk to a professional to help you work out the cause of your sadness.
Last reviewed: 27 April, 2016
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