Tips for improving a depressed mood

What is a depressed mood?

A depressed mood refers to a feeling of sadness or low motivation that persists for a time after an event that might normally be associated with a decrease in mood. Symptoms may include poor sleep, changes in appetite, poor motivation, lack of interest and focus, and feeling sad or hopeless. We start to consider the low mood to be of clinical significance if it interferes with a person’s normal levels of functioning over a few weeks.

What is causing your depressed mood?

A key to managing your depressed mood is to understand where it comes from. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you struggling with overwhelming past experiences? If so, it may be wise to seek the assistance of a trauma informed therapist. Working through trauma on your own may further overwhelm you.
  • Are your stress levels too high? Is there anything you can do to manage them better?
  • Are you taking the time to enjoy life? If you’re not, what would it take to fit in some pleasant experiences?

Things that can maintain depressed mood

Because low motivation is often part of a depressed mood, many people stop doing the things they enjoy or seeing people they like, and this can compound the effects of the depressed mood; we all need to have fun, and we all need to socialise with kind people. Another factor in maintaining a depressed mood is our thinking habits; if you have a habit of focusing on negative information, or criticising yourself, then learning to make changes to your thinking may assist you to improve your mood.

Exercises to improve mood

There are a few exercises that have been shown to help with depressed mood:

  • Getting Active: physical activity, even just a quick walk on a regular basis has been shown to improve mood. It’s like a natural antidepressant.
  • Increasing your activity level: taking small steps towards doing a few things that feel like an achievement, and a few things that are fun just for their own sake can by a helpful way to improve your mood. Even if you don’t feel like it at first, doing a few things and engaging in things you usually like can help to bring about a shift in your mood.
  • A great self help resource for managing depression can be found here:

Helpful thoughts to improve mood

  • Remind yourself that moods don’t last forever, and this one will eventually pass.
  • Remind yourself that you have coped with difficulties in the past.
  • Tell yourself that you can take steps to get active again and get back into the things you want and like doing, and this will help to lift your mood over time.