Definition of sadness - needs to be definition of the emotion.

Sad looking woman

When a person is sad in many ways it is their body telling them to relax and let go of tensions in the mind and body.  Sadness is letting go.  We become sad as a result of loss.  It may be loss of a loved one, a favourite toy, a job prospect or even our pride.  Whatever, once it is gone it is gone and there is nothing we can do about it except let it go so we can start afresh.  It is when people are unable to let things go that they start to have problems with sadness, such as developing a depressive disorder.

Benefits of this definition


The main event

Sad and depressed man

We all experience sadness differently.  Some people are more outward with their emotion and cry and weep.  Others internalise and brood, often avoiding social contact. Experiencing sadness is a necessary part of the emotional ebb and flow of our life.  As discussed in previous presentations, emotions are rhythmic in nature and after we have experienced happiness, we might soon experience sadness.  Unlike happiness which occurs in the presence of certain hormones, sadness does not have any clear and simple accompanying chemical interactions.   


Experiencing and being able to experience sadness is an important part of healthy emotional behaviour.


When a person can no longer express sadness coherently they may instead experience depression.  This may occur when trauma causes emotional energy to be repressed and stored.

Problems with Sadness: The Connection with depression/suicide

A quarter of the population will suffer depression some time in their life.  This is a condition that affects your work and social life, your relationships and ability to care for yourself for months or years on end.  Depression often results when we are carrying around too much sadness that has not been let go.


Sadness and depression can be channelled by using the experience of the downward pulling emotion to encourage the body to relax.  

Personal example

When I was an adolescent the experience of depression came to me as a powerful downward pulling gravity.  I literally could not stand up, and felt my body falling into the ground.  I found it constructive to channel that sensation by lying on my bed and allowing myself to relax.  Over the decades I used depressive episodes to teach myself to relax and let go.  In the process I would ride out the storm and at the end feel quite relaxed and ready to move on.

Challenge to audience

Sadness is an emotion that contributes positively to human experience, providing a means by which we can deal with loss.  Sadness can be associated with relaxation, providing a place for the person to reset their life, so they can continue without the thing they have lost.

References and further reading