Most people feel low sometimes, but if it's affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.
Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with low mood, sadness or depression.
Symptoms of a low mood
Symptoms of a general low mood may include feeling:
- anxious or panicky
- more tired than usual or being unable to sleep
- angry or frustrated
- low on confidence or self-esteem
A low mood often gets better after a few days or weeks.
It's usually possible to improve a low mood by making small changes in your life. For example, resolving something that's bothering you or getting more sleep.
Symptoms of depression
If you have a low mood that lasts 2 weeks or more, it could be a sign of depression.
Other symptoms of depression may include:
If you're not sure how you feel, try our mood self-assessment.
Things you can try to help with a low mood
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to
- try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
- find out how to raise your self-esteem
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- try mindfulness, where you focus on the present moment
- listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS apps library
- do not try to do everything at once; set small targets that you can easily achieve
- do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
- try not to tell yourself that you're alone – most people feel low sometimes and support is available
- try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve a low mood. These can all contribute to poor mental health
Low mood, sadness and depression audio guide
In this 10-minute audio guide, Dr Chris Williams talks you through ways to tackle low mood, sadness and depression.
Media review due: 2 March 2021
Further information and support
The mental health charity Mind offers more information on:
Your Mind Plan on the Every Mind Matters website sends personalised tips and advice to your email inbox.
Where to get NHS help for a low mood
Referring yourself for therapy
If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.
You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you've had a low mood for more than 2 weeks
- you're struggling to cope with a low mood
- things you're trying yourself are not helping
- you would prefer to get a referral from a GP
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you or someone you know needs immediate help
- you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.
Causes of a low mood
There are many reasons why you might feel low at some point in your life.
Any sort of difficult event or experience could lead to sadness or low self-esteem. Sometimes it's possible to feel low without there being an obvious reason.
Identifying the cause
If you know what's causing your low mood it might be easier to find ways to manage it.
Some examples of things that may cause a low mood include:
- work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement
- family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone
- financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money
- health – illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement)
Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of sadness.
You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.
Find out more about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing.
Conditions related to low mood and depression
|feeling low or depressed in a seasonal pattern, usually during winter||seasonal affective disorder (SAD)|
|feeling low or depressed after the birth of a child||postnatal depression|
Page last reviewed: 15 October 2019
Next review due: 15 October 2022