Low Mood and Depression

Low Mood and Depression

How to manage feelings of low mood naturally

All of us have “off” or “bad” days from time to time, but for some people this state of low mood can go on for a while. There are many different factors that can trigger low mood and depression. These can include upsetting or stressful life events such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money.

People often talk about a ‘downward spiral’ of events that lead to a prolonged state of low mood. For example, if a relationship with a partner breaks down, you are likely to feel low, you may stop seeing friends and family, you may start drinking more; all of these things can make you feel even worse.

What is the difference between depression and low mood?

Life has its ups and its down and it is perfectly natural to experience low mood from time to time. Often when someone experiences low mood, they describe their symptoms as feeling depressed. Whilst this is a useful shorthand, there is a big difference between feeling low and actually being depressed.

Perhaps you’ve had a bad day at work. Perhaps you’ve had a row with your partner, or just broken up with someone. Most of the time we describe these low mood feelings as being depressed. Rest assured these are normal but temporary feelings of sadness, frustration, anxiety and stress.

You are most likely experiencing low mood if you are:

  • Sad
  • Anxious
  • Worried
  • Angry
  • Tired

Most of these feelings should go away over time, especially if you make changes to the situation that you’re in.

However a low mood that lasts for weeks and won’t go away can be a sign of depression.

You’re more likely to be experiencing depression if you are:

  • Continually sad
  • Constantly guilt ridden
  • Irritable and intolerant of others
  • Experiencing low self-esteem
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless

If you are experiencing low mood for extended periods of time and are experiencing some of the feelings described above, it’s worthwhile seeking professional help as they are signs that you may be depressed. Speak to your doctor, GP or the Samaritans for support and advice.

How can I boost my mood naturally?

Try a herbal remedy such as St John’s Wort for natural relief for low mood

One of the most common herbal remedies for depression is St. John’s Wort – an effective mood lifter that has traditionally been used to manage the symptoms of low mood, depression and anxiety.

Does St John’s Wort work?

At least 30 studies on more than 1,700 patients show that St John’s wort can be an effective remedy for mild- to-moderate depression without the side effects of more conventional anti-depressants. It is thought to help prolong the action of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin – a deficiency of which can result in depression.

St John’s Wort can be found in KarmaMood , a traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label before starting any herbal remedy.

Try these lifestyle changes to lift your and mood improve your overall wellbeing

Paying attention to simple physical needs such as eating, sleeping and exercise can all help alleviate symptoms. Regular exercise and just being outside in the open air can have a hugely positive effect on how you feel as it promotes the release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins. Group exercise, or joining a friend to do things like walking, have even greater benefits thanks to social interaction.

If you’re experiencing low mood or feeling down, there are lots of ways that you can help yourself to improve your mood.

Here are a few simple lifestyle changes:

  • Get a good night’s sleep: a lack of sleep negatively impacts everyone’s mood
  • If you’re feeling stuck at home, go out for a walk and get some fresh air and exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet (more detail below)
  • Cut down on alcohol as it is a depressant
  • Keep busy: try to fill your time with interests and hobbies which make you happy
  • Get regular exercise: as well as boosting your serotonin or ‘happy hormone’ levels, regular exercise gives you more energy
  • Many people find complementary therapies helpful: some, such as massage, use physical touch to help you feel better emotionally while others, such as meditation and yoga, can help aid mindfulness and relaxation.
  • Make some simple changes to your daily routine if you feel stuck in a rut
  • If it really is a bad day, always keep in mind that tomorrow will be different

Try talking

Mental health problems, such as anxiety, low mood and depression, affect one in four of us, yet many of us are still reluctant to talk about them. The reason? A certain stigma still surrounds mental health: many of us are too frightened to open up for fear of being misunderstood by family or friends, appearing weak or not being taken seriously by health professionals.

However, the truth is there is no stigma to admitting to having a problem especially when admitting it is part of the way forward. What’s more there is plenty of help out there and finding the right support and treatment is one of the first steps to feeling better. There are lots of different ways to talk about mental wellbeing, but whichever way you choose, make sure you have a conversation about mental health.

Sharing and talking about your feelings with friends and family can really help you to see things from a different point of view and they can often help you to find a solution. Meanwhile, talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which shows you how to change the way you think and behave, can also help.

An alternative is computerised cognitive therapy, which research now shows can be just as effective as face-to-face treatment. Joining a support group is another option. It can introduce you to people who are going through the same things as you and can provide great support. Your GP should have a list of everything that is available in your area.

Change your diet with some good mood food

When it comes to low mood and depression, tweaking your diet can contribute to lightening your mood. Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares the best ways to improve your diet for optimum happiness.

Omega 3 fats

The essential omega-3 fats (or ‘good’ fats), are probably top of the list when it comes to choosing good-mood foods. The brain contains a very high percentage of these fats, and they help to promote the production of the brain’s neurotransmitters (brain-to-body communicators). Omega-3 fats are also key in the production of the brain’s ‘happy hormone’ serotonin.

Try to eat oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout, plus nuts and seeds, two or three times a week. Flaxseeds are also especially rich in omega-3s if you’re vegetarian.

It’s also worth remembering that trans fats, found in margarines and refined cakes and biscuits, can actually block the metabolism of these good fats. So keep an eye on your intake of these or ideally cut them out altogether.

Brilliant B Vitamins

The B vitamins work in tandem with essential fats. The family of eight B vitamins (also known as the full B-Vitamin Complex) fulfil a wealth of essential roles within the body. In the case of boosting your mood they’re needed for many enzyme reactions, which help produce neurotransmitters.

It’s important to include plenty in the diet – try wholegrain rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta and bread, peas, beans and lentils. They are also found in many wholefoods, including colourful fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin B12 in particular is an essential vitamin for supporting low mood, and it is only found in animal produce, fish, eggs and dairy products. Therefore if you are a vegan you should certainly consider taking a supplement as you will be unable to get this from your diet.

Marvellous Magnesium

One of our key trace minerals, magnesium is another very busy nutrient. Affectionately known as ‘nature’s natural tranquiliser’ because it aids relaxation, it also works in tandem with the B vitamins to help ensure your brain chemistry is well balanced.

The good news is that many foods containing B vitamins also contain magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach and cauliflower are especially good sources. Magnesium can also be found in bananas, avocados, nuts and seeds, legumes and some seafood.

Super Serotonin

The manufacture of serotonin, sometimes known as our ‘happy hormone’, in the brain is partly dependent on the nutrients above, although some is made in the gut. It’s also metabolised from an amino acid called tryptophan, found in chicken, milk, cheese, soya, nuts, eggs and wholegrains. So, try to include some of these foods in your diet to get sufficient tryptophan, which in turn will help boost levels of serotonin.

As with all vitamins and minerals, you may want to consider taking a supplement to get optimum benefits. A high quality multivitamin and mineral is always a good top-up to the daily diet and makes sure you are getting everything you need.

More articles