Taking Control of Your Mood: Intro

Managing low mood

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What It Does

This article will teach you about:

checkmarkSymptoms of depression
checkmarkHow depression affects your thoughts & behaviour
checkmarkPhysical symptoms of depression

How It Helps

This tool can help you:

checkmarkLearn the difference between sadness and depression
checkmarkKnow when to get help for low mood/depression
checkmarkUnderstand what causes depression

This article will teach you about:

checkmarkSymptoms of depression
checkmarkHow depression affects your thoughts & behaviour
checkmarkPhysical symptoms of depression

This tool can help you:

checkmarkLearn the difference between sadness and depression
checkmarkKnow when to get help for low mood/depression
checkmarkUnderstand what causes depression

Save this resource

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Introduction

Everyone experiences sadness from time to time. But when that sadness becomes so severe and persistent that it impairs your ability to get through the day, it requires serious attention, because it may signal the onset of depression. Regardless of your experience, it is important to know the signs and symptoms that are associated with depression. Although no single symptom is diagnostic of depression, a certain number and pattern of these symptoms may indicate the onset of a depressive disorder or a form of depression that is mild. All of the following symptoms should be taken seriously and all can be treated. The good news is that a lot of things will help relieve these symptoms. But you first have to honestly identify them within yourself. Then, see your healthcare provider.

Depression can appear as changes in your mood:

  • Depressed mood with overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief*

  • Losing interest in things you usually enjoy*

  • Feeling sad, blue, or down in the dumps (which does not change with circumstances)*

  • Loss of motivation (i.e. you don’t “feel like” doing anything)

  • Not getting pleasure from things that used to please you

  • Awful, sad, or discouraged feelings

  • Feeling slowed down, restless, or unable to sit still

Depression can appear as changes in your body:

  • Headaches

  • Aches and pains

  • Digestive problems

  • Sexual problems

  • Appetite (loss or gain) or weight (loss or gain)

  • Feeling profoundly tired all the time

Depression can appear as changes in your thinking:

  • Pessimism, hopelessness, worthlessness*

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide*

  • Indecisiveness

  • Seeing only faults in yourself

  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence

  • Poor judgment

  • Inability to tolerate pressure

  • Trouble concentrating or remembering or learning new information

And depression can appear as changes in your behaviour:

  • Increased smoking

  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol

  • Crying often or being beyond tears

  • Trouble falling asleep, frequently waking in the night, waking unusually early, or oversleeping

  • Eating too little or too much

  • Avoiding other people

  • Being argumentative or abusive

  • Unusually poor hygiene

Do you recognize any of these signs or symptoms in yourself? Although no single sign or symptom from the previous list is diagnostic of depression, a certain number and pattern of these symptoms may indicate the onset of a depressive disorder or a form of depression that is mild.

Be certain that you speak with your healthcare provider about your experience if you:

  • Are experiencing any of the symptoms, particularly those marked with an asterisk (*), continuously for more than two weeks, or

  • If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or

  • If these symptoms are interfering with your work, social life, or family obligations.

All of these symptoms should be taken seriously. All of these symptoms can be treated.

What causes depression?

Nobody is completely certain what causes depression, but there are two well-researched and supported ideas. One is medical and the other is psychological. The medical model of depression suggests that it is caused by improper functioning of your brain chemistry. And so medical treatments, like antidepressant medication, help change your brain chemistry and return it back to normal. When this happens, you begin to feel better.

Another model, the psychological model, suggests that depression is a result of things you say to yourself and your behaviour. For example, depression occurs when you become overly negative, self-critical, or pessimistic about yourself, your experiences, and your future. Saying things like:

  • “I am worthless”

  • “Nothing ever goes right for me”

  • “Things will never get better”

As well, depression occurs or is made worse when you stop doing things you normally enjoy and withdraw from your social life, your work, or your family. Regardless of the source of depression and low mood, you can definitely take steps to feel better and experience more happiness in life. Sometimes this involves lifestyle changes, changing your thinking, or seeking professional help such as medication or therapy.

Improve your mood

In this course, you will learn six ways to help you improve your mood. Just as the symptoms of low mood appear in four parts of your life (body, behavior, feelings, and thinking) the strategies to improve mood also fall into those same areas. They are:

  • Taking care of your body (eat well, develop good sleep habits)

  • Changing your behaviour (get active)

  • Changing your feelings (become action-centered, reduce tension)

  • Changing your thinking (think optimistically)

The next parts of this resource will talk in more detail about each of these areas. You can find them here:

1. Intro | 2. Healthy Habits | 3. Manage your feelings | 4. Get active | 5. Reduce Tension | 6. Stay connected

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