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Resource type: Article

Feeling low or sad

Getting better after being in hospital can take some time. You may feel relieved to be home, but you may also feel a sense of loss or sadness. Low mood can affect people in different ways. The following are all common signs of low mood:

  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Wanting to cry a lot
  • Getting angry and annoyed with people
  • Not wanting to do things you normally enjoy such as going out
  • Not wanting to have contact with family and friends
  • Using unhealthy life choices to take your mind off how you feel, e.g. eating a poor diet
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Not taking care of yourself
  • Thinking about hurting yourself
  • Having thoughts about ending your life

Low mood can also make you:

  • Move or speak slowly
  • Want to eat more or less than you normally do
  • Not want to eat at all
  • Have no energy
  • Not want to have / enjoy sex
  • Find it hard to get to sleep
  • Not have a good night’s sleep
  • Not want to get out of bed
  • Wake up earlier than normal

Most people experience low mood at some point in their life, and it is especially common after upsetting life events like being seriously unwell. You do not need to feel ashamed to tell somebody if you are feeling low. Keeping your feelings to yourself can make you feel worse and it could affect your health.

Why do I feel so low? 

If you've suffered from depression in the past, it's more likely that you may do so again, but this is not always the case. There are a great many reasons why you might feel low. Being very ill can be a tremendous strain, both physically and psychologically and this is likely, at least in the short term, to have a real impact on your sleep, energy levels, physical ability and relationships.

You may still be coming to terms with how ill you were and may be feeling isolated, like no one understands what you've been through. You may be feeling down about how long it takes to recover or worrying that you're never going to get back to normal. All of this is completely understandable, but can be hard to come to terms with, leading to feelings of low mood and depression.

How can I help myself if I feel low?

Remind yourself that while your mood is low at the moment, this does not mean that things won’t change or you will always feel this way. For most people, low mood will get better on its own but some there are things that people can do to help, like treating yourself kindly and asking for help if needed.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Talk to someone your trust about how you are feeling, and also try to talk about other things unrelated to your mood
  • Keep in touch with other people 
  • Keeping a record of what makes things a bit better and a bit worse
  • Try to get back to your routine as soon as you can, even if you can only do this slowly at first (it is important not to over load yourself)
  • Make a plan for what to do each day
  • Do something enjoyable and something that gives you a sense of achievement every day
  • Eat well, and try to eat regular healthy meals
  • Do not drink too much alcohol (you should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week) 
  • Move your body and do regular activity, even if it’s only a short walk around your home or garden)
  • Aim small and slowly build up to a longer / harder tasks

If you feel you need help with this problem, see the separate article on getting help