Low Mood & Depression
Everyone has ups and downs.
Sometimes you might feel a bit low, for lots of different reasons. People may say that they are feeling depressed when they are feeling down, but this does not always mean that they have depression.
Depression is a long-lasting low mood disorder. Depression is when you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. It affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure or take interest in activities.
On this page you’ll find more information, tips and links to help you understand and find support and resources to help you. You can also find more support in the Directory
About depression and low mood
Depression can make you lack motivation and feel physically unwell. It may be easier to avoid activities than to tackle them. You may then feel guilty and start to get angry with yourself. This in turn can cause lack of self-esteem and make you feel even more depressed. Understanding how depression affects your thinking can help you break this vicious cycle.
Mental symptoms of depression and low mood
Depression can affect your mind and you might feel:
- anxious or worried
- suicidal or wanting to hurt yourself
- sad, upset or tearful
- guilty or worthless
- restless or irritable
- empty and numb
- lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem
- unable to enjoy things that usually bring you pleasure
- helpless or hopeless
Physical symptoms of depression and low mood
Depression can affect you physically and symptoms may include;
- tiredness and lack of energy
- moving or speaking more slowly
- sleep problems: finding it hard to get to sleep or waking up very early
- changes in your weight or appetite
- no sex drive and/or sexual problems
- unexplained aches and pains.
Behavioural changes with depression and low mood
You might behave differently. You may:
- avoid other people, even your close friends
- find it hard to function at work, college or school
- find it difficult to make decisions or think clearly
- be unable to concentrate or remember things.
When you are depressed, your image of yourself may suffer. You may feel you are worthless, lazy or unattractive. You may feel more sensitive about what other people think of you and imagine that you have become less popular among your friends.
This means jumping to the worst conclusion. If a family member is late, you immediately picture them being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Or if you haven’t heard from a friend for a few days, you assume you’ve said something to upset them.
This means drawing wide conclusions from one small detail. If someone spoke sharply to you at work, you may think: ‘All my colleagues hate me.’ Or if you run out of milk, you may think: ‘I’m a total disaster and useless at organising my life.’
Focusing on the negatives
This means over-exaggerating setbacks whilst ignoring all the good things in your life. For example, you may focus on a negative comment someone has made at work, whilst taking no notice of the praise other colleagues have given you. Or you may criticise yourself for not achieving everything on your list of tasks but ignore all the things you did manage to do.
Taking the blame unnecessarily
This means blaming yourself for no good reason. For example, if a co-worker is off-hand with you, you immediately wonder what you have done wrong. It may be that the other person has just had a bad day or is preoccupied.
Guessing another's thoughts or predicting the future
A neighbour who normally stops in the street for a chat passes by with just a wave. You immediately think: ‘I must have upset her last time we spoke.’ In reality, she may just be late for an appointment. You may be convinced that things are not going to go well at an interview and think: ‘I know they won’t offer me the job, so I won’t bother going.’
How to Break The Cycle
Don’t beat yourself up if any of the thinking patterns above look familiar to you. Celebrate the fact that you are beginning to recognise them in yourself. You will now be in a position to stop them from affecting your mood.
Whatever it is that has upset you, sort it out into three parts:
- What happened?
- What did I think?
- What did I feel?
By using mindfulness techniques you can find a way of getting ‘in tune’ with how your thoughts and body are feeling. It can be used to help manage anxiety. In a nutshell it involves focusing on what is happening in the present and not being distracted by the past or the future which can help you become more resilient when feeling down in the future, bouncing back sooner and being more able to face difficult circumstances.
Video Tips for Low Mood & Depression
Use the following link for some audio tips for low mood and depression on the NHS website.
And if you are struggling you may want to talk to someone