There are times in the lives of most people when days are dismal and moods are dejected. It may last a day, a week, or longer. The symptoms, such as they are, wouldn’t equate to a diagnosis of mild depression, yet the person feels a sense of sadness, inertia, heaviness in mood and action. They sigh, walk around in a state of dreamy indifference to some things, perhaps bitterness to others, and they feel alone. In everyday language we might refer to such states as the blues. In more technical language we talk about dysphoric mood states.
People often report that there is no particular reason why they feel this way. Everything at home is fine; work is good, relationships settled and so on. And while it’s quite possible for a person to feel a bit stale, perhaps because of these very reasons, sometimes there is a trigger.
The news, for example, can be a source of useful information but it can also highlight disturbing trends in which our faith in mankind is put under considerable strain. Some people are so affected by reports of random shootings or other inhumane acts that they refuse to watch the news or pick up a newspaper. But the issues don’t need to be extreme. You may, for instance, be in a secure and well-paid job but as you watch others less competent being praised or promoted it can nibble away at your sense of justice and self-worth.
Mood states such as this can pass quickly or they can linger and sometimes worsen. Usually a change of attitude or a course of action is sufficient to lift mood but a great deal also depends upon how we cope with stress. Painful feelings, if not addressed have a habit of storing up and then erupting.
Dr. Dorothy Rowe, an Australian psychologist with a particular interest in depression, says unhappy people can seek comfort in themselves or are receptive to the comfort offered by others. Depressed people by contrast aren’t receptive to the sympathy or concerns of others and certainly have no comfort or love in themselves to offer solace. So, while low moods for no apparent reason are very common they shouldn’t be ignored. This is particularly important if they are returning more often and lasting longer.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.