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Understanding low mood and depression.

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

What is low mood and depression?

Anyone can experience low mood as a result of loss, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, or disappointment. This can be your body’s way of telling you to slow down while you process what is going on.

Experiencing low mood can be short term, lasting a few days, whereas depression can span weeks or months. During this time, you may experience feelings of worthlessness, be demotivated, hopeless, tearful, tired and irritable.

Your GP will be able to diagnose and recommend treatment.

Where does low mood and depression come from?

Low mood is thought to be a response to a perceived threat. When faced with a real threat, our ancestors would have instinctively reacted with the fight, flight and freeze response. This prepares their body to fight the threat, to run away, or to freeze so that they might hide effectively. The freeze response lowers our heart rate and we slow down. Our modern minds have evolved to evaluate and assess situations, yet can sometimes overemphasise a threat. This perceived threat still triggers our inherited fight, flight and freeze response to help keep us safe, but can in fact become unhelpful at times.

The cause of depression is not exactly known. There are some factors that can trigger it, such as, changes in the body’s hormones e.g. thyroid issues. There is also some research into certain shared genes where there is a family history of depression. At this time of year many people can also be affected by the colder, darker nights. This has been referred to as seasonal affective disorder.

What can you do to help?

  • Firstly visit your GP to explore the options of treatment.

  • Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy? What are some of the things you may have stopped doing that brought you joy? You could make a plan to revisit these activities. Read my blog about setting SMART goals to get you started.

  • Getting active and doing some exercise can help raise your mood by releasing endorphins, otherwise known as happy hormones. What three small actions could you make to get moving again? Read my blog to get you started.

  • Smile – this is also thought to release some happy hormones that can help you relax. If you venture out on a short walk then try smiling at others. Smiling is contagious,you may feel better when they smile back at you. You could also try watching an online clip of someone laughing and see what happens to your mood.

  • When you feel low, or struggle with depression, you are more inclined to focus on negative issues. Making daily notes of things you are grateful for can help shift that train of thought and encourage a little more optimism.

  • Helping others is thought to create a greater sense of wellbeing, so how and who could you help today? Try reaching out to a friend or neighbour, consider volunteering for a charity, or joining in on charitable events to raise money.

  • Plan ahead, booking in time to catch up with friends and family. Get them involved in your plans to exercise, create some ‘me’ time with a treat to look forward to. What would you do with some ‘me’ time? Who would you go and see?

  • Set some time each day to problem solve and make those plans.

  • Learning something new can also help by focusing your attention on that new topic, getting active and creating opportunities to meet people.

How CBT can help?

Working together we can help you increase your awareness of unhelpful thoughts you are having, and how they are impacting negatively on your behaviour. This process then allows you to challenge those thoughts so that you can create more balanced and positive changes in your life.

The therapy itself is short term, working towards goals for positive change. However, the techniques you learn will support you going forward in reducing the impact depression has on your life.

If you would like to talk more about how CBT can help you, please contact me at or use the contact form at the bottom of my home page. (Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay)

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