Why does my anxiety make me feel sad?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. In this blog we will explain why anxiety makes us feel sad, understand the functioning and purpose of anxiety and sadness in your lives, as well as propose solutions to improve your current emotional state.

First of all, it is important to understand how anxiety works in your body and why it generates unpleasant and involuntary emotional reactions in you. Anxiety is the feeling you get when your body responds to a frightening or threatening experience. It has been called the fight or flight response. It is simply your body preparing for action, either to fight danger or run away from it as fast as possible. 

Anxiety is natural and part of your life. It is like the alarm that the body has to tell you that there is a real or imaginary danger that you must face physically and psychologically to improve your current state. Therefore, you cannot stop feeling anxious in life, but you can implement strategies that make you feel better about yourself.

Why do you suddenly feel sad?

Suddenly feeling sad or episodes of sudden sadness are common in anxiety, as anxiety dysregulates your body and emotions in response to the feeling that there is a threat or danger. In anxiety, people feel sad and cry in response to stress and the abrupt emotional changes it generates. In addition to this, anxiety causes you to think negative thoughts about yourself, such as that you are insufficient or useless, which inevitably generates sadness and frustration.

Studies have found a correlation between feelings of anxiety and depression. As anxiety generates negative and catastrophic thoughts about others, the world and oneself, feelings of sadness and general emotional apathy inevitably appear related to these thoughts (1).

Your brain feels hyperstimulated, which means that brain activity increases, causing an imbalance. Your organism reacts in different ways to external pressure, for some people it manifests itself in anger and impulsivity, for others like you, in sadness and crying.

Suddenly feeling sad in anxiety is characterized by:

  • Feeling general discouragement and apathy.
  • Intense desire to cry or uncontrollable crying.
  • Fatigue.
  • Thoughts about death.
  • Feeling of loneliness.

How can you control sadness and anxiety?

You must understand that your body and mind are closely related, you cannot train one and neglect the other. In the case of anxiety, strategies should be aimed at first, identify the cause of your anxious episodes and then, apply specific techniques to help reduce the symptoms.

Track your emotions

A valuable strategy to work on anxiety is to keep a self-record of emotions. It is known as a “panic diary” but has many other names. Basically, it consists of writing down in a notebook the situations that make you anxious, detailing what physical and emotional sensations the specific situation caused you.

When you experience episodes of anxiety you not only feel sad, as in your case, you can also feel physical symptoms such as tachycardia and sweating. Everything that goes through your body and mind is important to record in this journal, to understand what are the daily events that cause you anxiety and then work on those events to decrease the symptoms.

Change your self-perception

You need to reinforce your self-esteem to counteract those involuntary negative thoughts that appear in anxiety episodes from impacting your mood. Refrain from anything that may cause more anxiety or sadness and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by positive things. Find time for yourself, your hobbies and self-care. Compliment yourself in front of the mirror daily and acknowledge all the effort you make in your daily life to improve yourself. Little things like getting out of bed and grooming yourself can be a challenge for people with anxiety and depression, so it’s worth acknowledging even small accomplishments.

In my experience…

You should verbalize and let go of your emotions even if they are overwhelming. Sadness is part of life and you cannot eliminate it, so when experiencing sadness and the urge to cry because of anxiety you can let the feeling flow and understand that this feeling and emotion is not permanent.

Feeling sad is difficult to control because it is a natural response, so the strategy should not be to “stop feeling sad” during anxiety episodes, but to decrease the anxiety episodes themselves. Feeling sad is necessary and you should let yourself go through the emotions, accepting what is going on in your life at that moment, but still, you can work on improving yourself.

Remember that you have the ability to improve our psychological state, even if during moments of anxiety or depression you feel hopeless. You can always make small changes that will pay off in the long run. The fact that you are contacting me to seek professional attention in psychological counseling is already a step, and I recognize and applaud you for that. You are already doing something and wanting to change always leads you in the right direction.

I invite you to seek professional help when you feel that even applying these suggestions, your situation does not improve. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective in treating different forms of anxiety and will give you more accurate tools to manage your emotions

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