Stress, anxiety and low mood are unpleasant emotions which are all interlinked. You may feel stressed about a looming deadline at work. The fear of not completing the task in time will make you feel anxious. The fact that you are now stressed and anxious makes it difficult for you to think about anything else, which in turn makes you feel a bit miserable.
The more miserable and anxious you feel, the less you are able to concentrate, which makes you stress more about the deadline. This in turn increases anxiety levels … and so it goes on.
Continuous pressure to succeed does nothing to help us relax. Against us is a need to perform at our best, and to keep up with the ever increasing standards. What is this doing to us? It’s putting us under stress, making us anxious and leaving us with a low mood.
Stress is not an illness in itself. It tends to manifest itself by way of unpleasant symptoms, both physical and mental. These include the feeling of nervousness, a racing heartbeat and sharpening senses, as well as a feeling of being overwhelmed, irritable or restless. It occurs when we are put under too much pressure and we struggle to react rationally or to relax.
Anxiety is the reaction to undue stress. It can be triggered by a wide range of circumstances including performing or speaking in public or social situations. Anxiety can be treated in a similar way to stress, and finding an effective management technique for you goes a long way towards easing your symptoms.
Low mood is found at one end of the unhappiness spectrum. This shares a border with mild depression if your mood continues to be low for a long period of time because you are unable to pick yourself up.
However, the boundary between the two is not clear. It often takes a medical professional such as a doctor or psychiatrist to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or low mood associated with normal day-to-day living.
When you are feeling sad, down or fed-up, it is important to keep an eye on your feelings and symptoms as these will give you the clearest indication of the root cause of your problem. If you are feeling a bit down because it is the end of your holiday and are not looking forward to the normal routine of work and housework, or after some bad news, the chances are that you will feel sad for a few days but as things go back to normal, this feeling will lift. What is important with low mood is to distinguish it from depression.
Depression is a medical condition in which the sufferer experiences feelings outside the normal range of emotions. It is a serious condition which must be treated by a medical professional, particularly if accompanied by thoughts of suicide. It is important to establish if the emotions you are experiencing are due to low mood or depression. Although sharing many similar features, the two conditions are usually managed differently.
Low mood is part of the normal spectrum of emotions we go through in our daily lives. Moods tend to get better as circumstances improve or with the arrival of good news. Depression is a complex medical or psychiatric condition which may be severe and potentially life threatening if left untreated. Depression is also likely to interfere with everyday life – for example, someone with the condition may not have the motivation to leave the house for days at a time.
Understanding and treating
Having an understanding of these three conditions often helps us to tell if we are just having a bad day, or if we are indeed succumbing to the modern day illness of busyness. It is important to examine your symptoms carefully, as stress, anxiety and low mood may lead to more serious health conditions, including high blood pressure and heart problems. The good news is that they are all treatable, often through a combination of self-help techniques and herbal remedies, most commonly Valerian, Avena sativa and St. John’s Wort.
So take a deep breath and relax…
Written By Marianna for a.vogel.co.uk