Infinite sadness is more than just the 3rd album by the Smashing Pumpkins. It's a feeling that you get when you have severe anxiety. It's this feeling as though there is no happiness in the world - as though joy has been sucked away, and you're left with this feeling as though nothing will ever get better.
Once you start to feel as though you'll always be experiencing sadness, your anxiety has gone too far. But what does it really mean to feel this way and, perhaps more importantly, how do you fix it?
Dealing with Infinite Sadness
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Infinite Sadness After Anxiety Attacks
Sadness is, of course, depression. It's this feeling as though happiness is gone from the world. It can happen to anyone with long term chronic anxiety, and especially tends to affect those that have gone through anxiety attacks. Learn more by taking my free anxiety test.
The term sadness may be misleading, because not everyone experiences sadness. Some people experience what could be better described as an absence of happiness. It doesn't always feel like life is sad so much as it feel like the emotion of happiness is gone from this world.
- Mentally Mentally it's hard to have positive thoughts. It's hard to get aroused emotionally or even sexually, because you feel as though the positive and uplifting energy isn't possible. You may be sad, but you may also simply feel nothing at all. What you definitely do not feel is happiness, or anything that resembles joy or pleasure.
- Physically Physically, the world seems to be drained of energy. In some cases you may find yourself completely fatigued, but in other cases you may have plenty of energy but little desire to use that energy. When you go for walks, there are no warm feelings. Instead, you're simply going about your day almost like it's on autopilot.
If you've had the flu you may have some idea of what it's like to have infinite sadness. There are times during the flu where you forget what it's like to be happy, or forget what it's like to not be sick, because the feeling of illness is so pronounced that there is no upside. You're simply left with this terrible experience that doesn't seem to go away.
Infinite sadness is a similar feeling. When you feel this way, you forget what feeling happy is like, because your body is almost incapable of it. Even if you manage to laugh (which is often impossible, even watching your favorite TV shows), the laughter almost feels like a reflex, not a positive reaction to what you're seeing or listening to.
And so you quickly forget what it means to be happy, and what it's like to feel happiness. You're left with a void that may be sad, indifferent, or even just negative without a clear emotion. That's what living with this type of sadness is like.
What Causes It?
Scientists are not clear why some people with anxiety end up experiencing this type of depression. We know that when you have anxiety your neurotransmitter levels tend to drop, which could result in depression. Your brain may also be responding to anxiety like it does to pain or an illness, which also may take away feelings of happiness.
It's even possible that it's a coping mechanism not working properly. Chances are your body finds it easier to be sad than stressed. Stressed is a powerful emotion, and often during periods of infinite sadness you don't feel that much stress so much as you feel simply unhappy. No matter what the cause, it can be trouble.
Understanding Infinite Sadness and How to Treat It
Anxiety and depression are both incredibly treatable conditions. That's the most important thing to understand - no matter how bad you may feel, anxiety and depression really are treatable. They often feel like they cannot be treated, and most treatments have setbacks, but both conditions have very high treatment success rates provided you commit to the right ones.
Realizing that and recognizing that is actually one of the first steps to treatment, because unfortunately when you feel that sadness, it feels as though it's never going to go away. Many people simply forgo treatment assuming that it's hopeless, because the problem is defined specifically by the fact that it feels hopeless.
Also, for some this experience is very temporary. Many experience it for less than 24 hours, and some for less than an hour. But as soon as it starts occurring, it should signal that you need to start treating it, because you run the risk of allowing your mind to get used to this type of coping strategy. Tips for overcoming infinite sadness include:
- Exercising Exercising can be very hard when you feel this way, but it's still necessarily. Exercising raises the level of neurotransmitters that improve mood, and even if you don't see a noticeable difference, the difference is there at a chemical level. Every little bit helps to overcome this type of feeling.
- Surround Yourself With Positive Things Refrain from anything that may cause more anxiety or sadness and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by positive things. Watch comedy shows on television, read humor articles - it may sound silly, but you may even want to talk to your partner about trying to play around with romance. Do things that would normally put you in a positive mood. Dont worry about it working and don't put pressure on yourself for you to feel any different. You're simply doing this to make sure that you're releasing yourself from some of the negative emotions.
- Verbalize It Call someone you trust and verbalize what you're feeling. It's something that can be a struggle, and something that makes you feel that no one else understands you. So call someone and let them know how you're feeling so that someone does understand you, and can talk to you about it.
You should also start seeking treatment right away. Get started before your anxiety starts to become a big deal, and before your depression spins out of control. If you feel that you're depression is too strong, call a local suicide hotline and see if there are any psychologists in your area.
Seeking help is an important step, and leave nothing to chance. Remember, anxiety and depression are both extremely treatable, but make you feel like they're not treatable. That's a symptom of the condition. So seeking help and being willing to seek that help are too extremely important qualities.
I've worked with many people suffering from extreme anxiety and helped them reduce their symptoms. Start with my free 7 minute anxiety test, and learn more about what it means to cure your anxiety forever.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.