It’s normal to feel sad or ‘blue’ from time to time. However, when these feelings of sadness are so intense or persistent that it's hard for you to work, socialise, or take care of things at home, you should find out more about low mood and depression and what you can do about them.

Is my low mood a problem?

The occasional low mood is nothing to worry about. But if you’re feeling miserable, worthless, helpless, or hopeless almost all the time, you might be experiencing depression. As well as feeling down, people with depression often feel tired, have trouble sleeping, and have problems with concentration, memory, or decision making. They might lose interest in the things they used to like doing (including sex), or have trouble getting motivated to do anything at all. Some people find they lose their appetite, while others eat more ("comfort eating"). For some people, things seem so bad that they start to think about hurting or even killing themselves. If this is the case for you, please seek urgent help.

What can I do if I'm feeling down a lot?

Many people find it hard to admit to themselves, let alone to others, that they are feeling depressed. By faking it and pretending that everything’s fine, they can keep functioning quite well (especially at work). Unfortunately, this ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach to any mental health condition will not make the problem go away and may make it worse in the long run.

Self help

If you don’t need urgent help, there are a few things you can do yourself to help get back on track and enjoying life again. For some people, these strategies might be all that is needed. For others, they can be a useful addition to getting professional help.

Keep active and social

When you’re feeling down and not enjoying things as much as you used to, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get out of the house to spend time with family and friends or doing the other activities you used to enjoy. But getting out and doing things is one of the best ways to improve your mood. There’s no easy way around it; the less motivated you are to get involved in hobbies or socialising, the more important it is to push yourself to do it. Below are some tools from the High Res website to help you get back into activities.

Take Action: Engage in Rewarding Activities to improve your mood

If you are feeling down you are less likely to get involved in activities that you used to enjoy. Returning to fun activities is an important part of improving your mood.

Use the Enjoyable and Rewarding Activities tool to help identify some activities that you might find enjoyable. This tool can also help you to plan how to get started.

Take Action: Lift your mood by Building Social Connections

If you’re feeling down and unmotivated you might feel like withdrawing from friends and family, but this will make your mood even worse.

Use the Social Connections tool to identify the people in your life who can offer you support and the different kinds of support they can offer you when you are feeling down.

When you’re starting out you may want to focus on strengthening relationships with just a few people. Over time, you can work on building a wider support network by reaching out to other people in your community.

You can also access this tool on the High Res app to use on the go. 

Use helpful self-talk

The way we think affects the way we feel, and vice versa. Feeling down often comes with negative thinking about ourselves, our lives, other people, and our future, but it’s important to try and take a more balanced and helpful view of these things

Take Action: Learn to Think Differently when you are feeling down

The way that you think affects the way you feel. Thinking in an unhelpful way can make your mood worse and make it harder to deal with stressful situations.

Use the Challenge Your Thoughts tool to help you to identify whether you are thinking in an unhelpful way, then work on changing the way you are thinking.

When you’re starting out it’s a good idea to apply the helpful thinking tools to a situation that is bothering you but isn’t too overwhelming. Once you’ve learned the skills you can apply them to more troubling situations. With practice, you’ll be able to apply these skills day-to-day as situations arise.

The Challenge Your Thoughts tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

Look after yourself

Try to eat well, get enough rest, exercise regularly, and avoid over use of alcohol or drugs.

Take Action: Improve Your Sleep if you are feeling fatigued and down

Poor quality sleep can make you feel down, fatigued and unmotivated. Some simple changes can help you to get the best possible sleep.

Use the Healthy Sleeping tool and answer some questions about your typical sleeping behaviours and get tailored advice and tips to improve your sleep and optimise your mental and physical functioning.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

Take Action: Get Active to boost your mood

Regular exercise improves mood, confidence, concentration and sleep.

If you’re having trouble getting motivated the Physical Activities tool can help. It has suggestions of physical activities you can try and tips for getting started and staying active.

When you’re starting out, choose smaller activities that are relatively easy to do. Once you’re in the habit of being active you can try some more challenging activities.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go

Take Action: Manage your mood by  Building an Action Plan to reduce your drinking

When you’re feeling down you might be more inclined to turn to alcohol. Unfortunately, drinking excessively makes you feel even more down and less motivated to make positive changes in your life.

Use the action plan tool to build a plan and find the goals, strategies and supports that will help you to manage your alcohol consumption. Once you have a plan you can start to put it into action.

Make an action plan before you start making changes to give yourself the best chance of sticking to your goals.

You can also use the ON TRACK with The Right Mix app to track and manage your drinking.

Getting Help

Self-help isn’t for everyone. If you’ve tried the strategies above and things still aren’t improving, or if you are having trouble coping from day to day, find out more about depression and its treatment. If you are thinking a lot about death or killing yourself please seek urgent help.