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Low Mood

At some point in our lives it is likely that all of us will experience low mood. Sometimes this is in reaction to a life event- a bereavement, a change in relationship or personal circumstances. Sometimes we might be feeling low with no clear trigger. These feelings of low mood might go with time and with the chance to talk with a friend or family member. However, occasionally these feelings can persist making it difficult to manage day to day life and can affect a person’s ability to function, making life feel like a struggle. Low mood can affect a person’s ability to work, study, socialise and develop relationships.

Low mood is usually thought to be characterised by feelings of sadness. However for some people it can involve a complete numbness of all feelings. Other feelings that can be linked to low mood include struggling to concentrate on uni work, struggling with sleep or feeling like you would prefer to be alone. All of these signs are common in low mood and are things that can change with time and with support of your friends, family or the wellbeing team.

It can feel daunting asking for help with low mood, some people blame themselves for the way they are feeling and try to cope alone. However, research shows that people who seek help are likely to overcome feeling low quicker than those who try to cope alone.

Helping yourself

There are some things that you can try and do yourself to lift your mood, however, it is not always possible to do this alone and you may need to approach someone for support:

  • Spend time with people rather than avoiding company. Isolation can increase the feelings of sadness.
  • Look after yourself. Regular exercise has been shown by research to help lift mood and increase wellbeing.
  • It can be tempting to try and find release by over using drugs, alcohol and tobacco. This may provide a temporary solution, but in the long term can bring its own problems by causing other long term issues.
  • Remember that feeling low or sad is not a sign of weakness. Many of us will experience it at sometime in our lives and with time it will go.
  • If you have someone you feel comfortable talking to, tell them about it. They will probably want to be given the opportunity to help and listen.
  • Some people find relaxation techniques and self-help books useful.
  • The University Student Counselling Service offers confidential, non-judgmental counselling. Talking to someone who is not involved in your life can help you to recognise patterns of behaviour and find your strengths.
  • There are also sources of support on the telephone and on the web - if you would prefer to speak to someone in that way.
  • Your GP may be able to help by possibly referring you to counselling or other support services.

Details of sources of support are listed at the end of the web page.

Helping others

You may not have feel flat or low yourself, but may be concerned about someone you care about or live with. If you have read this information and think that some of the symptoms apply to someone you know, then it may be that they are struggling. Below are some of the things that you could think about doing to help.

  • Try not to be judgmental, or to assume you know how they are feeling. They are more likely to open up if they feel that they are being listened to without judgement.
  • Try and encourage them to do the things that they did prior to experiencing low mood.
  • Persist – someone feeling low might take out their feelings on those closest to them. It can be hard to care for someone if they do not appear to value your friendship. However, your friend may feel that they are not worthy of your friendship and try to push you away. Try not to be put off by this.
  • If you can try to signpost your friend to appropriate support.
  • It can be easy when trying to support someone to forget about yourself and your own mental well being. Take some time to deal with your own emotions. It is not selfish to sometimes make yourself a priority.
  • You may need to seek support yourself - there is only so much you can do. If you are worried about another student, or do not feel you are coping well with supporting a peer, then please contact student wellbeing. This is particularly important if you are concerned about someone taking their own life.
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