Low mood and depression

What is the difference between low mood and depression?

For crisis support
Please take a look at our crisis support information.

It is normal for our mood to fluctuate and for us to experience low mood from time to time. Low mood can include feeling sad, anxious, worried, tired, or even angry. However, a low mood will tend to lift after a few days or weeks. Making changes such as resolving a difficult situation, talking about problems, focusing on self-care such as getting more exercise or sleep, can usually improve our mood. A low mood that does not go away and that gets in the way of everyday life can be a sign of depression.

Depression is a very common mental health problem and can be caused by difficult life events and experiences. It is also possible to feel down without there being an obvious reason. Merseycare defines depression as ‘feeling negative about yourself, the world and your future.’

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • low mood lasting two weeks or more
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling tired or lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • changes to appetite
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self-harming

Read the full list of signs and symptoms of depression on the Merseycare self-help leaflet

How can you overcome these feelings?

Seek support from a GP

Seek help if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks. Talk to a GP about how you are feeling in the first instance – they can help with access to talking therapies and medication, where appropriate. If you do not currently have a GP then you can find a GP on the NHS website.

Practice positive self-care

Be kind to yourself. Think about the things that you enjoy, that have helped in the past or that make you feel good such as mindfully cooking a healthy meal, reading a good book, going for a walk in the sunshine or practising an old hobby. Try to maintain a good routine and sleep pattern. See our self-help and relaxation pages for more ideas which may help you.

Reach out to others and connect

Although you might not feel like it, reaching out to others and connecting is important. Call a friend, meet for a cuppa, go for a walk with a flatmate. Joining a society can help you to meet people with similar interests to you. Even calling a helpline where you can talk confidentially with an outsider can help.

Identify what does and does not help

Challenging unhelpful thoughts and reflecting on what helps is key in managing low mood and improving mood. Could you keep a mood diary to see what has helped? Identifying what doesn’t help can be as important as finding things that do help. For example, frequently drinking too much alcohol can lower mood.  

Take positive action

List the things that you need to do that you are worrying about and formulate a realistic action plan with step by step activities which will help you to resolve the issue. This may be a group of upcoming essay deadlines or issues with your flatmates. Breaking the issue down and working to resolve it makes you feel more in control of the issue and less overwhelmed.

Access support at LJMU

LJMU have a team of Wellbeing Advisors who can help and support you and refer you into specialist support teams such as Mental Health Advisors and Counsellors where appropriate. If you have a diagnosis of depression, we recommend you get in touch with our Disability team and Study Guidance team. 

Enrol on the SAW Canvas course for workshops on a range of wellbeing topics.

LJMU have partnered with SilverCloud, an online cognitive behavioural therapy tool, to provide support to you around issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and body image.

We have also partnered with mental fitness app Fika to offer support during COVID-19.

Learn more

There are lots of sources of support and inspiration for dealing with low mood and depression out there, check out these we have hand-picked:

For a full list of support available external to LJMU, go to our A-Z of support and Hub of Hope.

Please note
If you need support specific to the current COVID-19 health crisis, please visit student support.