14 Sad body language signs


Like every other universal emotion, sadness shows in our body language. People often don’t even have to utter “I’m sad” because they have sadness written all over them.

Sadness is easily recognizable in facial expressions and body language. Often, we experience mixed emotions, and this mixedness is reflected in our body language. This can make detecting sadness a bit confusing.

In this article, we’ll focus on the cluster of body language signs that are unique to sadness. When most of these signs are present together, you can be sure that the person is feeling sad.

Let’s look at the signals of sadness in facial expressions, body gestures, voice, and movements:

Facial expression

Sadness, like other universal emotions, is most visible on the face. A sad facial expression is easily read by others, who then attempt to help the sad person feel better.

A sad facial expression consists of:

1) Lowering the corners of lips

It’s the opposite of a smile where the lip corners are raised. The chin looks slightly raised as the lip corners go down.

2) Raising the inner ends of eyebrows

Raising the inner ends of eyebrows and eyelids, so they make an ‘inverted V’ shape.

3) Eyes drooping or closed

This is an attempt to shut yourself off from the ‘sad thing’ out there. People will say something like, “This is so sad” while closing their eyes (and themselves) from the sad thing.

4) Making an ‘I’m about to cry’ face

A sad person sometimes looks like they’re about to cry, but they’re not crying. A person making this face may be on the cusp of crying.

sad woman making cry face

5) Looking down

Looking down helps with shutting yourself off from the sad thing out there and focusing inward to process the sadness.

6) Trembling lips

If the sadness is acute and the person is about to cry, their lips are likely to tremble.

Body gestures

As mentioned earlier, a sad person experiences a need to process their sadness. They get thrown into rumination mode. To process their sadness, they need to shut out the outside world and focus inward.

Body gestures that reflect this desire to shut down include:

7) Lowering the head

An effective way to turn away from the world is lowering the head and looking down, with eyes open or closed.

8) Hunched back

Taking a curled-up fetal position while sitting is not only a closed body language position but also a self-soothing gesture.

woman sitting in a curled up position


A sad voice is distinguishable from other voices. It has the following features:

9) Speaking slowly

Speaking in a low voice pitch and volume.

10) Speaking with irregular pauses

Because they’re trying to process their sadness, a sad person can’t focus on what they’re saying.

11) Talking as if crying (but not crying)

A sad person who talks as if they’re crying may be on the verge of crying.


Sadness may not be the same as depression, but it’s undoubtedly its cousin. There are a lot of similarities between how sadness and a depressed mood manifest in body language and movements.

12) Slow body movements

As in depression, a sad person’s body slows down. They seem to be dragging their feet when they walk. They don’t make any animated or energetic gestures.

13) Swallowing movements

You can observe swallowing movements in the neck area of a sad person. This is a sign of acute sadness, and the person may be about to cry.

14) Tripping over things

Sad people are focused inward and are likely to be clumsy and trip over things. Acute sadness can also make them trip over their own feet.