Depression and Feeling Low

 

Most people experience ups and downs in their life, and can feel unhappy, depressed, stressed or anxious during difficult times. This is a normal part of life.

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Many difficult events and experiences can leave us in low spirits or cause depression: relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying, illness, and pain being just a few.

Changes to hormones, such as during puberty, after childbirth and during the menopause, can also have an effect on your emotional and mental health.

But sometimes it's possible to feel down without there being an obvious reason.

What is the difference between low mood and depression?

A general low mood can include:

  • sadness
  • an anxious feeling
  • worry
  • tiredness
  • low self-esteem
  • frustration
  • anger

However, a low mood will tend to improve after a short time. Making some small changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation or talking about your problems and getting more sleep, can improve your mood.

A low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression. Symptoms of depression can include the following:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
  • feeling anxious or worried

Read more about the symptoms of depression, including the physical and social effects.

Depression can also come on at specific points in your life, such as the winter months (SAD) and after the birth of a child (postnatal depression).

Getting help

Whatever the cause, if negative feelings don't go away, are too much for you to cope with, or are stopping you from carrying on with your normal life, you may need to make some changes and get some extra support.

"We all know what it feels like to be down," says Professor David Richards, professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter. "Most people who feel low will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. But if these feelings persist or get in the way of everyday life, it's time to seek help."

If you're still feeling down or anxious after a couple of weeks, talk to your GP or call NHS 111. A GP will be able to discuss your symptoms with you and make a diagnosis. See a member of the pastoral team in school. School can help put you in contact with agencies and counsellors. Mrs Wilson is a first port of call for parents and students.

Seek help immediately

If you start to feel like your life isn't worth living, get help straight away. Either see your GP or call NHS 111. Or speak to someone in school. You can also contact helplines such as Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for confidential, non-judgemental emotional support.