What is Low mood?
We all have our ‘ups and downs’, moments or days when we feel low and not our usual contented selves.
Low mood can arise for a number of reasons, such as:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, emotional turmoil, certain mood disorders (bipolar disorder) or depression, lack of sleep (insomnia) exercise and bad eating habits. Bouts of Low mood can also affect children who are naturally ‘melancholic’, shy or introverted. For most individuals Low mood periods can negatively impact on their lives, affecting not only the sufferer – but also their relationships with friends and family.
What causes Low mood?
Research shows that the brain chemical serotonin is involved in low mood. It has been observed that people with fewer serotonin receptors throughout the brain (particularly in the hippocampus) tend to suffer with bouts of Low mood or depression.
Conventional treatment for low mood and depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) which increase serotonin levels in the brain, however these are strong drugs that are routinely associated with side effects, and long term effects are not fully understood.
Help for Low mood
Natural ingredients have long been used in herbal and homeopathic remedies to support good mood and harmony in the brain. St John's Wort (often called 'Nature's Prozac') is a well-used herb that works to prevent the body from using too much serotonin. Passiflora is a calming herb that reduces anxiety and soothes frayed nerves.
Homeopathic ingredients can also be used to help stabilize mood such as Ignatia amara - suited to those who find themselves sighing frequently and crying while at the same time trying to ‘keep a brave face’ or ‘laugh it off’. Kali phos and Nat. sulph are two tissue salts recommended for those who have a high sense of responsibility and a very sensitive nature, while Staphisagria is best suited to those that tend to bottle up their emotions – and often find it hard to say no and feel worse with added emotional stress.
More Information on Low mood
Tips to cope with the low mood
- Keep active – exercise has shown to increase ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain naturally, and help stave off depression. A simple walk with the dog or a quick swim in the pool can make the world of difference when you are feeling ‘blue’. Regular exercise can help to maintain good mood.
- Eat well – The right foods can help support your mind and keep your body functioning well. Certain foods, such as sugary sweets and carbohydrates can cause slumps in the metabolism and end up making you feel low and depressed. Fresh fruits and leafy vegetables are the best way to support good mood.
- Sleep well – sleep routine is a key factor when it comes to mood. Your brain regulates your emotions and therefore it makes sense that your brain needs adequate time to recharge. Eight hours of sleep per night is recommended – don’t sleep too much, as this can also upset the balance!
- Drink sensibly - alcohol is a mood altering substance, and while drinking in moderation is generally accepted, it is best to try to avoid alcohol if you suffer with low moods. Eight glasses of water a day is recommended instead, to keep your brain hydrated!
- Write it down – don’t keep feelings bottled up, if you feel miserable, and don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, keep a journal to let it out.
- Keep the bond – it is very important not to isolate yourself from friends and family. Although you may feel like shutting yourself away in your room, try to keep a connection to the outside world – snuggle with a pet if people are getting you down or listen to the radio. If you are really lucky, chances are you have family who will understand your mood and support you needing ‘quiet time’.
- Know your stuff – being educated about your mood, means being proactive and more likely to overcome it. Read up on low mood and the brain so you can better understand how the chemicals in your body regulate your mood. There are also many self-help books out there and biographies of celebrities or showbiz personalities that have struggled with mood disorders and overcome them!
- Look beyond drug therapies – drugs are not always the answer. While natural remedies can help tremendously, it is a good idea to also look at holistic treatments such as meditation, yoga, massage and aromatherapy.
- Mix it up – change your surroundings. If you always watch the same movie when you feel down, listen to the same song or stay in your pajamas all day – don’t! The brain can easily form repetitive patterns, making it harder for you to change your emotions. Try a new behavior when you feel low – and surprise yourself and others!
- Watch it – be sure to monitor your personal stress levels. If things get really bad, or you feel increasingly low, be sure to consult your health care professional. If at any time you feel you are overwhelmed or can’t cope – seek appropriate medical advice and ask for help. There are many therapists and councilors out there that can help you!