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Published on August 16, 2023

What are the Differences Between Natural Low Mood & Depression?

Any mental health professional will tell you that feeling happy 100% of the time is simply not feasible. It’s not even desirable, because, without the ability to feel negative emotions and correctly processing them, it will indicate that there’s something dulled about your organic emotional reactions. After all, life can be wonderful, but it can also be hard, and the reason we have negative emotions is so we can respond to those situations appropriately, process them, and move on.

For this reason, it’s true to say that some people may assume that low mood is the exact same thing as depression and seek treatment for it. This is not a bad thing in some instances, speaking to mental health counseling services is always a wise idea and can help you identify issues you may not have thought about before.

However, it’s important to learn the difference between depression and low mood. Depression is a more pernicious mental health condition that can take many forms and while it may include low mood, that’s not always how it reveals itself. In this post, then, we’ll discuss the differences between natural low mood and depression, and move on from there.

Depression Can Often Feel Dull & Neutral

There’s a common misconception that depression is often a deeply saddening and upsetting set of emotions. It can include this of course, but that’s not all depression is. For many people, dulled emotion is a clearer sign of depression. If you find that you rarely react how you would expect to bad or good news, have a hard time feeling excited about anything, feel as though you can’t “connect” to your senses like enjoying a great song or tasting a great meal fully, then this may be a sign of depression even if you feel relatively neutral from day-to-day.

Depression Can Suggest A Lack Of Focus

Depression can also have a significant impact on your ability to pay attention and concentrate on one thing at a time. For this reason, if you constantly find yourself procrastinating to a compulsive level, seeming irritable and distracted when you should be focused, or struggling to get through a full movie, then it could be that you have depressive tendencies. 

Of course, some lifestyle habits can reduce your ability to concentrate, after all, it’s said that social media has reduced our attention spans over time, and with short-form video platforms like TikTok, it’s not hard to see why. However, if your lack of focus seems compulsive, this can be a good example of why.

Low Mood Can Be Treated By Lifestyle Factors

Most people would agree that a low mood can be shifted if the right circumstances present themselves, at least a majority of the time. For example, heading to the gym and exercising can often help people deal with their stress, and feel more optimistic, alert, and energetic for the rest of the day.

Low mood can also improve via talk therapy, taking positive action in life, and getting enough sleep each night. Removing depressants from your intake such as alcohol, reducing sugar, and eating more nutritionally dense foods can all have a very healthy and positive effect. 

These efforts can help with depression as well. However, clinical depression is not a lifestyle habit, but a condition that must be treated appropriately. The above efforts are not “cures,” then, but steps in your wellness journey. So, if you think you may just have a low mood, see if repeatedly following the above habits make a difference. In some respects, they will. If the problem seems deeper, make sure to head for a mental health assessment.

Depression Can Encourage Feelings Of Apathy

When you suffer from low mood, you tend to still remain the person you are and have been. For example, you can head to a family funeral, go through the grieving process, and still keep your appetite in the evening which is a healthy sign.

For those with depression, sometimes even the simplest things can feel grey. This can lead to feelings of apathy for many issues in life, such as not caring about being let go from their job, the end of a relationship, or bad news that may come their way.

This doesn’t mean that depressed individuals are neutral automatons, quite the opposite in fact. It’s just that this condition can stifle proper emotional regulation over time, especially if it’s been suffered for a while. If you believe that you’re no longer interested in the things you used to love, you have a hard time keeping up with your hobbies and you’re struggling with personal maintenance like taking shows or keeping your bedspread clean, make sure to speak to a mental health professional as soon as you can.

Bonus: The Similarities Between Low Mood & Depression

We’ve laid out some of the differences, so please allow us to discuss some of the similarities between low mood and depression.

Put simply: both are treatable.

It’s important to remember this. It’s also important to remember that if you have low mood, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve support through a difficult time. If you have depression, it doesn’t mean that you’re somehow more broken or more of a lost cause than someone with “only low mood.”

Keep that in mind, and try not to compare yourself to others. We only submit this insight to help you potentially find out if you need further help.

Remember that the services are out there to help you, and they in no way limit your autonomy or will alter who you are. They can simply help you overcome certain issues bringing you down and provide a new lease on life.

As such, the main similarity between low mood and depression is that no matter what, you deserve support for either of them, even if it can be hard to divide them clearly.


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