Low Mood and Depression
Updated: May 12
I sometimes wake up in the morning and my head feels heavy, as if something physical is holding me down, impacting on my mood and my ability to function. It leaves me feeling lethargic; I feel extremely low and everything feels like a huge effort. But I know that this is likely to pass relatively quickly, and I am guessing that, for me, it is a hormonal fluctuation. But for people suffering from clinical depression it might start to feel like such a state of being will never end.
Being depressed often leaves individuals with very little energy or motivation. Other symptoms include eating too much or too little, sleep patterns being out of sync (sleeping a lot or very little), feeling tired all the time and a lack of concentration. Cognitive or thinking processes are often impaired, as if one's mind becomes much narrower in its ability to reason. This is often described as 'tunnel vision'. The sense that life is quite hopeless is common for depressed individuals. Thoughts, such as 'I am a failure, life is so pointless, I am a huge burden on my family' may prevail. The actual reality, for example, that they are loved and will be missed, is often absent. People might consider that suicide is the only option for them.
The NHS points out that clinical depression does not pass within a few days or weeks, but leaves one feeling sad, persistently, for a period of 2 weeks or more.
If you feel suicidal, call the Emergency NHS help line on 111 (UK). The Samaritans are also available 24/7 to talk on 116 123 (UK and Republic of Ireland).
You don't have to feel suicidal to call the Samaritans. Talking to somebody and releasing the tension you are carrying inside can be a welcome relief.
Some of the factors associated with depression
Historic factors can contribute, such as excessive criticism or abuse in our past; or a key loss such as a bereavement or abandonment that still impacts acutely.
Huge and major life events such as losing a home, divorce, or trauma can be major factors. Global issues, such as the climate crisis may also feature.
However, there may not be an identifiable 'source', since clinical depression is an illness in itself.
Thinking And Behaviour
It can be hard or impossible to think optimistically when feeling depressed. Some people are able to put thoughts into action, such as I can manage another hour, another day; I will get through this, I know it will pass'. They may also be able to utilise coping tools, such as focus on the senses, noticing what they can see, feel, hear and touch.
Of course, this is not always possible, and there may be a need to seek support services or emergency help.
How one feels or thinks about them self can also be a trigger for depression, or keeps the engine going. For example, believing you are not good enough may be keeping you socially isolated; or thinking that the way ahead is hopeless or pointless.
Understanding and working on your thinking and behaviour patterns is one way you can help yourself. You might choose to seek out a therapist to work with you, and there are also some excellent self help tools available (see the links below).
Making Small, Incremental Changes
People often disengage from activities they previously enjoyed. Identifying, and gradually implementing these pursuits again can be beneficial to improving mood. Small, incremental changes, such as making oneself take a shower each day, or a short daily walk may be a good starting point. It may feel difficult to do, but even one small undertaking can be a huge achievement under the circumstances.
Research shows that isolation and a lack of social support can be a huge contributory factor to low mood and depression. However, we are not all fortunate enough to have a good social or support network.
The Samaritans are available 24/7 for you to talk and offload: remember you don't have to be suicidal to call. Check out groups, such as Meet Ups (www.meetup.com) and the Ramblers where you can meet people and socialise with. They operate in most areas of the UK and are usually friendly and welcoming of new people.
Some Other Considerations
Other issues, such as bereavement and loss can leave individuals in a depressed like state. The NHS website also provides advice about other conditions, such as Bipolar Disorder and Post-Natal Depression, which would be assessed and diagnosed by a medical doctor.
Links: Some helpful advice and good self-help tools are featured in the links below.