What is low mood?
Sometimes life can be challenging and it can make us feel down. We can all feel sad or low in mood at times, and we might even feel unable to cope. Sometimes it will be obvious why we feel low, like if we’ve gone through difficult life events, and other times there may be no clear reason. That’s okay; that’s normal.
When we feel like this, we might lose interest in things that we once enjoyed, everyday tasks might feel harder and we might lose hope that we’ll ever feel better. Taking notice of the different areas in our life, such as family, friends, home, school, work and relationships, can help us to better understand what makes us feel good, and what might be contributing to our low mood.
Usually, a low mood will pass after a couple of hours or days (or sometimes weeks), and you will start to feel okay again by yourself. If your low mood feels too intense or lasts for too long then additional support might be needed.
What are the symptoms?
Low mood symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, upset and down often
- Feeling more irritable than usual
- Feeling numb or empty
- Not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
- Avoiding friends or social situations
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Eating more or less than usual
- Being self-critical and having unhelpful thoughts
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling tired and not having any energy
- Feeling guilty, or like you’re a burden
- Wanting to hurt yourself or end your life – if this applies to you, seek support as soon as possible. If you are experiencing a mental heath emergency, call the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) crisis team immediately on 0800 516171 or 999. They are available 24/7 and will support you through your crisis.
What can help?
If your symptoms are too intense or last for too long, it could be a sign that you might need additional support. Talking about it can be really helpful and is often the first step to feeling better. Speak to a trusted friend or family member, or contact our Therapy Service on email@example.com to talk to one of our therapeutic counsellors. They can offer one-off drop-in appointments or weekly counselling sessions.
Alternatively, you could try:
- Doing something you enjoy:
- Whether exercise, sports, art, music, reading, writing, film, TV, theatre, dance – anything! These things can help you to feel good again, even just doing a little bit
- Keeping a journal:
- Regularly write or record how you’re feeling and what’s been happening in your life. You could do it every day, or whenever you feel you want to. It can help you to:
- let your feelings out
- see what you’ve written and think about things differently
- learn more about what makes you feel low and what helps
- think about new ways to cope or different things you could try
- Being active:
- Regular exercise is proven to help boost mood. Even a short walk or stretching can help build up your enthusiasm and stamina, particularly if you’re feeling low, and lacking energy and enthusiasm
- Mindfulness and meditation:
- Apps such as Calm, Headspace and How We Feel can help
- Set yourself achievable goals:
- Setting small, achievable goals each day, like taking a shower, going for a walk, or even getting dressed, can help boost your mood and self-esteem. It’s okay if some days you don’t achieve your goals; self-compassion is really important too
- Listening to music:
- Create a playlist of your favourite songs to listen to. Start with the slower, more chilled songs, working up to the higher tempo and more energetic songs. This can help your mood and energy gradually increase too
- Challenge unhelpful thoughts:
- Reframing the way we think can help to make us feel more positive:
- Improving your sleep:
- It can be a vicious cycle when we feel low and then tired, and/or tired and then low. Getting better sleep can help to improve mood:
- Eating a more balanced diet:
- Consuming lots of foods high in fat and sugar can make us feel sluggish and low. Eating healthier can make us feel more energised and improve our mood. Try starting with one extra piece of fruit or vegetable and then working more into your diet
Supporting your child with low mood
If your child is struggling with low mood, click on the link to find out how you can support them and places you can get help.