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Low mood and depression

A low mood will tend to lift after a few days or weeks. But if that doesn't go away, it can be a sign of depression.

Difficult events and experiences can leave you in a low mood and can increase the risk of depression.

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

What's the difference between low mood and depression?

A general low mood can include:

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

But a low mood will tend to lift after a few days or weeks.

Making some small changes in your life can usually improve your mood.

A low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression.

Symptoms of depression can include the following:

  • low mood lasting two weeks or more
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling tired or lacking energy
  • not being able to concentrate on everyday things
  • comfort eating or losing your appetite
  • sleeping more than usual or being unable to sleep
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself

Depression is likely to come on at specific points in your life, such as the winter months and after the birth of a child.

When to get help for low mood or depression

If negative feelings don't go away you may need to make some changes and get extra support.

If you're still feeling down after a couple of weeks, talk to your GP. Your GP can discuss your symptoms with you and make a diagnosis.

What types of help are available?

If you're diagnosed with depression your GP will discuss treatment options with you. These options include self-help, talking therapies and antidepressants.

Self-help

Whether you have depression or find yourself feeling down for a while, it could be worth trying some self-help techniques.

Life changes can help you feel more in control and more able to cope.

For example:

  • getting a regular good night's sleep
  • reducing alcohol intake
  • increasing the amount of exercise you do

Self-help techniques include activities like meditation. Tools such as self-help books and online counselling can be very effective.

It's important to continue to take antidepressants if your GP has prescribed them.

Talking therapies

There are lots of different types of talking therapies available. To decide which one would most suit you, talk to your GP or read about the different type of talking therapies.

Related topics

Talking therapies

Page last reviewed: 05/10/2018
Next review due: 05/10/2021

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