Hannahs helpful hints - low mood

Written on Friday 1st May 2020

What is a low mood? What is depression?

Depressed is a term we hear thrown around a lot, "I'm so depressed today", "Well that was depressing" but depression is serious. So what is depression? Depression sucks away our happiness, it causes us to hate ourselves, to want to hide away from the world - it can be truly soul destroying. 

What are depression signs?

If you are struggling with motivation, or have stopped enjoying things, it could be a sign of depression or low mood. At the least depression means that you only want to do the things you have to and nothing more, at the worst small like getting out of bed will feel like climbing a mountain. 

The way that we think is a big sign of depression. It makes it impossible for us to recognise our achievements, our worth, our strengths. Depression makes us see all the bad and none of the good. 

What are the symptoms of depression?

Everyone is different, so symptoms can vary, but these are the most common symptoms of depression or low mood:

  • Poor sleep
  • Feeling tired
  • Reduced appetite or comfort eating
  • Irritability
  • Feeling sluggish or slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Reduced libido
  • Lack of motivation
  • Reduced interest and enjoyment
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self-hatred
  • Common thoughts and beliefs of depression

Depression can develop at different points in people's lives, and for different reasons. But the likelihood is that the beliefs listed below have been familiar to you for a long time to some extent:

  • I'm not good enough
  • I'm a failure
  • It's my fault
  • I'm un-loveable
  • There's no point
  • No-one cares about me
  • They'd be better off without me

When you see all that comes with depression and low mood, it is not surprising that it can feel completely overwhelming and engulfing. It can be so easy to get swallowed up in how we feel. 

Treatment for depression

There are many different options for treatment for depression. Psychotherapy is one option. You can also look at anti-depressants, exercise for depression, or alternative therapies. 

Even within the world of Psychological Therapy, there are lots of different types of treatment for depression. It can be hard to work out what option is best for you. The therapy I offer is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for depression. I offer a free brief consultation call, and during that conversation I can provide guidance on what type of therapy might suit you best. If I do not think CBT is appropriate, I will share this with you, and try to refer you to a therapist that offers a more suitable type of therapy. 

If you'd like to know more about CBT for depression, or what I can offer, please do get in touch on info@awarenessinmind.co.uk

Self-help for depression

One of the approaches we use in CBT for depression is what's known as activity scheduling or behavioural activation. I've provided below a condensed and simplified explanation for those wanting a starting point for self-help for depression. 
I have also written a blog with advice on how to improve problems with sleeping - https://www.awarenessinmind.co.uk/blog/having-trouble-sleeping

When we look at why we do things, it's usually because we want to, or we know we will enjoy it, or get some other positive feedback afterwards. As human beings we do look for quick results. Unfortunately, if our mood dips below a certain point, we stop experiencing this benefit. As a result, we can start feeling like "What's the point?" or "Why bother?" This often leads to stopping doing things.

Are you waiting for your motivation to return? 

Unfortunately, it won't come back by itself. And the longer you stop doing things for, the more you get sucked into the dark hole.

We need to shift our reasons for doing things. Instead of doing things because we want to or will instantly get something from it, we need to do it because we want to avoid feeling worse and want to start feeling better. Think of it as like exercise - when you go to your first class, you know you won't feel fitter, change your weight or body shape the first time, but you know that if you keep going the results will be achieved. Tackling low mood is quite similar, initially you might be pushing yourself and not seeing rewards, but keep at it and the results will come.

How to improve it …
Firstly it's important to accept that our reason for doing things now is not because we want to or feel like it, but instead because not doing it will make us feel worse.

Start by creating a list of all the things you want to be doing in future. 
This can include things that you have stopped doing recently, or things you are doing less often, or new things that you want to start doing to help yourself.

Think about these in categories:

  • Routine activities - e.g. getting up, getting washed, getting dressed
  • Home management - e.g. deal with bills, washing, dishes, tidying, cleaning, put the bins out
  • Essential activities - e.g. order and collect prescription, book appt to see GP,
  • Work or study - e.g. going to work, completing tasks when at work, applying for jobs, completing coursework tasks
  • Social activities - e.g. calls, texts, social media engagement, seeing friends, seeing family
  • Hobbies - e.g. things you do alone like reading, gym, cooking, listening to music
  • Relationships - e.g. go on a date, planned activities with children

We then want to start to plan these activities into a diary. We generally plan up to a week ahead, but at least 3 days ahead. The aim of this plan is to give us time to consider what we should be working on in the week ahead, and by writing the plan and committing ourselves it makes us more likely to do something. Saying I'll do it some point this week isn't as effective for example as saying I'll do it Wednesday afternoon.

Diary plans are split into days of the week, and morning/afternoon/evening. Consider what you did over the last week, and what small steps you could take over the next week to make progress. Break bigger tasks down into smaller parts if needed. Think about what day, and what time of day to plan activities that gives you the best chance of achieving them. Make sure you have a balance of activities covering the categories above.

Depending on how low your mood is currently, depends on where you will start with your planned activities. If your mood has only dropped a little, it might be most things are good and you just need to plan in a bit more of social activities and hobbies. If your mood has really dropped goals can start with things like get out of bed by midday, get showered, get dressed, eat a meal etc.

If you find that you don't manage to do something you'd planned, try to not see this as you failing, but the plan not being right. Think about what you could alter with the plan for next time. E.g. the plan might have not been realistic in the first place, or you might have needed to break it down into smaller goals, or plan it at a different time of day/different day of the week.

Starting this approach can be particularly hard if your symptoms are long-standing or severe, so give yourself a bit of time to figure it out. It's important to push ourselves to move forwards, but it's also important to be kind to ourselves. 

Helplines and support for depression

116 123
Available 24/7 on 365 days a year. 
You can also often attend your local branch to speak to a volunteer in person, see the Samaritans website for more details. 

Text SHOUT to 85258 
This is a free Text based Crisis Service. 

0845 767 8000
This helpline is available from 6pm until 11pm every evening and is provided for clients and their families/carers as a support service. 

0800 068 41 41
For young people up to the age of 35, (10am - 5pm & 7pm - 10pm, Weekends 2pm - 5pm). 


If you have found this blog helpful, why not bookmark it or save the link to come back to in future. 

If you would like to find out how I can help you to achieve Freedom from Depression, get in touch on 07588576026.

Similar Articles

Men and Mental Health

A blog post about mental health in Men

27 Dec 2020

Listen to the body - It's telling you there's a problem

Understanding how physical symptoms can be signs of emotional problems.

19 Dec 2020

10 Symptoms of Stress. 5 Causes of Stress

A blog for Stress Awareness Day - 6th November. Covering 10 symptoms of Stress, 5 causes of stress, and some tips.

6 Nov 2020

Business Owners - 5 Common problems

A Blog for National Work Life Week aimed at Business Owners. Discussing the 5 common problems experienced by Business Owners that effect Emotional Wellbeing.

12 Oct 2020

How to Achieve Happiness

A blog on how to achieve a happy life, including 10 key strategies needed

26 Sep 2020

World Suicide Prevention Day

A blog for those with suicidal thoughts. Some advice.

10 Sep 2020

FAQ: What do you offer that's different

Choosing a private therapist can be difficult. There's lots of us out there. I often get asked what I do that's different, and it's useful for prospective clients to know what makes me - me.

16 Jun 2020

Hannahs helpful hints: Panic attacks

A panic attack can feel extremely scary and overwhelming, particularly if it feels like it comes out of nowhere without a cause. So what is a panic attack? A blog to explain: What is a panic attack? Signs of a panic attack, Symptoms of a panic attack, Causes of panic attacks and Treatment for panic attacks.

1 Jun 2020

Are remote therapy sessions effective

Increasingly the world we live in is become distanced, and that's often viewed as a negative change. So how does remote therapy compare to face to face therapy? that's what people want to know.

18 May 2020

Awareness day: sexual abuse

Today is Sexual Abuse Awareness Day. Sexual Abuse statistics do not make for easy reading. But it's so important to continue to raise awareness and share the realities.

3 Feb 2020

Having trouble sleeping

Sleep is one of our key sources of energy, so it is no surprise that ongoing sleep problems will have an impact on our emotional state. Common consequences of poor sleep include reduced motivation, increased irritable, less rational thinking and increased stress.

13 Jan 2020

FAQ: When do you offer appointments

In order to offer flexibility, I offer therapy sessions between these hours. I have a maximum number of appointments I offer each week and work a maximum of 35 hours.

2 Jan 2020

Can CBT help my phobia

The impact of phobias is ofter really under-estimated. So many clients I see report others saying things to them like "that's ridiculous", "don't be daft" or laughing at them, leading to feelings of embarrassment and wanting to hide their problem.

14 Nov 2019

Why am I still not happy

You've ticked all the boxes you thought were needed for a 'happy' life. Successful career, house, car, partner/kids all ticked off. Over the years you've kept thinking “When I just …, then I'll be happy and able to enjoy my life”.

19 Aug 2019

Are you being the real true you

There is the “real/true” version of ourselves, and then there is the anxious/depressed/angry version that's the life we are living day to day.

3 Jan 2019

10 tips to improve sleep and poor appetite

Are you experiencing problems with your sleep? You're not alone. 2/3 adults in the UK experience sleep problems.

24 Jul 2018

Emotions and destructive coping approaches

When we are experiencing emotional distress - whether depression, anxiety, anger or something else, we want these feelings to go away. No one wants to feel emotional distress, and understandably so to.

18 Jun 2018

What actually makes us happy?

There are a lot of assumptions about what things will make us happy. Often in this list are often things like money, job promotions, relationships, having children, holidays etc. However if this is the case, how do we explain the large volumes of suicides by people that have all these things?

14 Jun 2018

What is mental health?

There's a lot of misconceptions and stigma around the words 'mental health'. In reality we are all somewhere on the continuum of mental health, just like for example physical fitness.

1 Jun 2018

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies