We can all feel low from time to time, as the pressures of daily life take their toll on our mood. But how can you tell if your persistent low mood may be turning into depression? We all know that too much stress can make us feel down in the dumps. You may feel low after a bad or difficult day at work. You may feel fed up because your relationship is stuck in a rut. You may feel down because of disappointing or sad news. Or you may feel frustrated because things just aren’t going your way today. You may notice that your mood can fluctuate with daily events. However, if you’re in a low mood then you may find that receiving some good news, or having a fun night out and a good night’s sleep can easily make you feel better. It’s only when the low mood doesn’t lift easily that you may begin to wonder if you are developing depressive symptoms.
Here we share six signs that your low mood may be turning into depression:
1 - Your low mood just won’t shift. You notice you’ve been feeling rotten for days and even weeks, and not even a night out or your favourite TV programme can make you feel better. You can’t remember a time when you laughed or felt free. You feel trapped by your dark mood and can’t see a way out.
2 - You’re withdrawing from friends and family. You find your duvet consistently more appealing than days out or conversations with friends. You turn your phone to silent and divert calls straight to voicemail so you don’t have to interact with anyone. You turn down more and more invitations, and you’re losing interest in activities you used to enjoy.
3 - You feel worthless. You compare yourself unfavourably with others, believing everyone else has a far better life than you. Looking at pictures on social media just makes you feel worse. You doubt your own abilities, and you struggle to make even simple decisions.
4 - You can’t concentrate. You may feel more restless than usual, and just can’t sit still. Or you may find yourself lethargic and heavy, where you used to be energetic and lively. You may find yourself staring into space and wondering how the time has passed, and yet you can’t complete tasks or concentrate long enough to read a book or watch a programme on TV.
5 - Your sleeping and eating patterns have changed. You may be sleeping way more than usual, finding it hard to get out of bed, or struggling to sleep at all – often waking up several times in the night. You may be comfort eating and putting on weight, or you may have lost several pounds without being on a diet.
6 - The future feels hopeless. Despair is possibly the best word to describe this state. You don’t believe you’re good at anything, and can’t see that changing any time soon. Life can begin to feel pointless. Happiness is for other people. You are stuck in a dark tunnel with no chink of light at the end of it.
If you recognise any of those signs then it’s OK to reach out for help. Treatment for depression can be through antidepressants from your GP and/or through talking therapy. If you’re feeling depressed it can be difficult to connect with the outside world, and so talking to a trained professional can help you feel heard and understood and better able to cope with what life is throwing at you.