Upset, Sad, Depressed

When something bad happens, unexpectedly, we often react by getting “upset.”You spill milk on your new pants…you get a bad grade on a test…someone makes a “smart remark” to you.  Being upset can often occur as a reaction to something minor.(less than 5 on a scale of 1-10) People’s reactions to feeling upset differ- some curse, some stay silent, some over react and cause a scene. While it seems that our body reacts naturallly to being upset, in reality, we train our body to react a certain way. If we convince ourselves that the event was in fact minor, our emotional reaction and the time we spend concerned with the incident will be less then if we tell ourselves that we “can’t take” what happened. Good ways of  of dealing with feeling upset are: taking a walk, talking to a friend, doing something you like; watch a tv show, listen to music, or just find something that distracts you until you calm down. If you can fix or change what is upsetting you in a positive way, then by all means do so.

Feeling sad is a reaction to something that has a greater impact on our life. (above a level 5) A boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, your parents split up, you don’t make the college of your choice, a person you care about passes away. Sadness may cause you to cry, it may cause changes in your appetite, sleeping, or energy level. You may not be able to concentrate on school work or even care. Often, feelings of anger (either towards others or yourself) go along with feelings of sadness. Feeling sad sucks, but it is part of life. Like they say, “Into everyone’s life some rain must fall.”  Although feelings of sadness usually stay around longer than feelings of  being upset, life moves on and sadness goes away, if you let it. In counseling, I often tell people that feeling sad is like cutting your finger. Sooner or later, your cut will stop bleeding, get a scab, and heal. But if you pick at the scab, it will take longer to heal, and maybe get worse. You often can deal with sadness in the same way you deal with being upset; you have to be more careful though. Some people use feelings of sadness as an excuse to hurt themselves. Drinking, smoking, cutting yourself, and anything else bad you can think of will not make sadness go away. Talking to someone who is understanding, either a friend or a professional, can help you deal with sadness until you are feeling better.

Some people use the word depressed to describe feelings of being  upset and sadness. In reality, depression is something very different. Events that cause sadness may “trigger” depression, but depression is as much a physical problem as it is an emotional problem. Depression is serious and it doesn’t go away easily. Often when people become depressed, they can’t think of an exact reason for their depression. The symptoms may be the same as sadness, but worse. Problems with sleeping and eating (too much or too little) are almost always present.  A low energy level can interfere with getting things done despite your best intentions or efforts. You feel people don’t understand you and you don’t even understand yourself. You may think that the world would be better off without you and you would be better off dead. Warning. Warning. You need professional help. Get your parents to take you to a doctor or talk to somebody at school. There is treatment available, but you must seek it out.

If you are still reading this article, you are either a person with great intellectual curiosity or a person who is feeling upset, sad, or depressed. If you need help, our school is a great place to get some. Talk to one of your teachers, principals, or  guidance counselors; Mr. Smith, our school social worker and  me, Mr. Tosto, the school psychologist, are all part of the team that can get you  some help. So come see us, it’s time to start to feeling better.