Low Mood? There could be a surprising underlying cause

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We all have our low days. Everything seems bleak and the things that usually bring joy pale into insignificance. Depression is real and should never be taken lightly. However, if you simply have low mood that comes and goes, there may be a more easily fixable underlying cause.

Here are a few that could apply to you:

Physical Causes

Vitamin D deficiency

Did you know that your low mood could simply be down to a vitamin D deficiency? Indeed, the winter weather can make you feel down in more ways than one as the “sunshine vitamin” actually plays an important role in brain function. As a result, people with low vitamin D levels are at a much greater risk of mental or mood disorders.  So if you tend to feel down at this time of year, don’t just put it down to the winter blues!

Want to know how to get more Vitamin D in your life? We already got you covered, darling.

Low blood sugar

Yes, being “hangry” is a thing. It may sound dismissive – especially if you’re already in the throes of an inconsolable low mood – but fluctuations in blood glucose can result in rapid and intense mood changes, including low mood and irritability. This is especially true during the hypoglycemic episodes of diabetics or others affected by blood sugar disorders, but it can also take effect day-to-day if you’ve not eaten in a few hours and your hands stark to shake. Everything will seem ten times more overwhelming and the slightest thing could set you off –  either into a rage or into floods of tears.

So have a snack before you let your emotions get the better of you! It may make the world suddenly look a little rosier.

Sleep deprivation

Another simple yet highly possible contributor – if not main cause – to your negative mindset is that you REALLY need some rest. Like really.

Insomnia and the sleep deprivation which likely follows can intensify your irritability and lack of motivation. It can even lead to depressive episodes – as the combination of your physical and mental exhaustion makes you feel grumpy at best and despairing at worst. Your sleep-starved mind is simply screaming at you to get some shuteye by making staying awake intolerable.

So if you find you’re yawning through this, don’t just rely on coffee to make it through the rest of the day – go to bed as soon as you can! See if your sense of impending doom is still around once you wake.

Gut Health

Ever wondered why you feel nauseated before giving a presentation, or get stomach cramps during times of stress? This happens because your brain and gut are intimately interlinked. Just as stress and anxiety can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract,  the presence or absence of certain gut bacteria has been shown to correlate with depression and other mood disorders.

So making an effort to improve your digestion could work wonders for your mental health too! Take that probiotic, darling – it’s worth a shot!

Hormone imbalance

Finally, if you regularly feel down, then your hormones could well be playing a part. If your low mood is combined with lethargy,  cravings, and the key telltale signs of breast tenderness or acne  –  you likely have low oestrogen and high progesterone levels.

Don’t worry too much – it’s normal to have this hormone profile in the days leading up to your period, during pregnancy, or if you’re on hormonal birth control such as the minipill or the hormonal IUD. So you may feel down if one of these applies to you and you are particularly sensitive to hormone fluctuations.

In the case of the first two, your best bet is to try to relax and distract yourself with activities that bring you joy, comforted by the knowledge that this mood will pass. However, if you’re experiencing these symptoms and you’re not sure why – then you might want to ask your doctor about a potential hormone imbalance.

Mental Causes

Holding a grudge

It may not even be at the forefront of your thoughts, but if you are subconsciously dwelling on hurtful events of your past, this underlying resentment can cloud your enjoyment of the present moment. This only fuels the pain and allows it to live on. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive ones – and past pains to tarnish present joys –  you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness.

We can all learn to be more forgiving and to let go of our past pains – if not for the good of others but for selfish reasoning alone! Learn to practise gratitude in your daily routine to reshift your focus on the good in your life, and to try to stop dwelling on the bad. Sometimes things can drag us down – but only because we let them!

Guilt

Guilt and self-resentment can be even more tormenting than resentment of somebody else. This is because we are our own worst critics – and if something we have done does not sit with our own morals, it can be difficult to escape that shame and regret – causing us to spiral into an inconsolable path of self-loathing and emotional self-flagellation.

The first step to tackle guilt is to honestly acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they’ve affected others. But avoid punishing yourself – we are all human and we all have errors of judgment from time to time. Instead, focus on the lessons learned from your mistake, and how the pain you’re feeling now is actually coming from a positive place – proving your good morals and ability to self-reflect. You won’t be making the same mistake again!

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, confess your sincere regret in order to offload it from your conscience. Ask for forgiveness without making excuses. And although you can’t guarantee that others will forgive you, your genuine attempt to right your wrong means that you at least deserve to forgive yourself. Hopefully, this will lighten your load and allow you to move on.

Some final thoughts

Next time you feel like it’s all too much and things will never get better, just remember that you’re not alone. However painful, these dark times are a part of the human experience, and something which we can all relate to – and can all overcome.

While you are going through a depressive episode or feel you’re temporarily in a dark place, seek comfort in the people and activities which inspire you and seek help from a professional if you ever struggle to cope. Support and treatments are out there for those who need them.

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