Sadness is a normal part of life, but if you are constantly or repeatedly feeling down without reason then there might be something more serious going on. You could be suffering from a number of physical or mental health conditions including depression, chronic fatigue, vitamin deficiency or stress. Talk to your doctor to seek advice and options for help.
I’m feeling down, and I don’t know why…
So many of us end each day feeling tired and run down – but what if it isn’t just at the end of the day? What if we start off the day feeling flat or down? Is this normal?
And what can you do about it?
Reasons for Feeling Down
There are many reasons for feeling down, and you don’t need to get worried about all of them. Some are more serious and more concerning than others.
It is normal and very human to feel ups and downs in life and even to feel ups and downs across the day. But if you feel sadness waking up, or sadness or a weight creeping onto you for no specific reason throughout the day, then it might be worth investigating further.
If sadness is affecting your life and your daily activities, then you should find out more.
When we say ‘feeling down’ what does this mean?
Feeling down is a pretty general concept and could mean all sorts of things to different people.
If you repeatedly feel any of the following and can’t work out a clear reason why:
- Sad for no reason
- Crying a lot
- Tired or even exhausted
- That you are either eating or sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
- Significant weight loss
- A lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from sexual intimacy or reduced sex drive
- Withdrawing from friends and cancelling plans
- Hopeless, worthless or as though there is nothing to look forward to
- That you have no energy or drive to do things
- Physical aches and pains
- Chronic headache, backache or neckache
- Difficulty thinking, remembering or focusing on regular tasks
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feelings of dread, self-harm or suicide
Then you might be experiencing one of the following conditions.
If someone is feeling sad or down and can’t pinpoint a reason for it, one of the first thoughts that pops into their mind is, ‘Is it depression?’ This thought can be enough to frighten people into pretending there is no problem at all and may stop some people from getting help.
It may be depression, but the idea that it could be shouldn’t stop you from seeking help. The stigma around depression and other mental illness is thankfully disappearing, with more and more people realising that anyone can get depression and it is not a sign of weakness or anything to be ashamed of.
Depression can be treated with medication, counselling, and minor adjustments to your life like gentle exercise, getting sunshine and learning relaxation techniques. It does not have to be a life sentence and there is so much that you can do to help yourself and feel better.
But it might not be depression at all – make sure you consider and rule out the following concerns before you get stuck on the thought that you might be depressed.
Chronic fatigue is an illness that may come from no recognisable source but can cause severe exhaustion, pain and headache, low mood and more. It is thought to be due to environmental or genetic factors, but the causes are really unknown.
There is no simple treatment, but the illness can be managed with your doctor’s help
Vitamin and mineral deficiency
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that humans need regularly and which, if we don’t get them, can leave us feeling very flat. Feeling down, tired or sad can often happen because of a deficiency, and may be a sign that you need:
- Iron, which gives people strength and energy, and comes from red meat and other proteins and green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin D, which humans naturally need but can’t produce on their own, and we usually get from the sun as well as some foods. People who go for months without getting enough sun can become vitamin D deficient which can manifest as emotional imbalance, as well as having other symptoms.
- B vitamins such as B6, B12, and folate, which have been shown to be low in people suffering from emotional issues like depression and anxiety, as well as fatigue and a number of other physical problems. Meat, chicken, seafood, legumes and again those lovely leafy greens are good for increasing your vitamin B.
- Selenium which is an important mineral that low levels of have been linked with depression, thyroid conditions and a number of metabolic concerns. To increase your selenium, eat more brazil nuts and walnuts, as well as meat, fish, and chicken
- Magnesium is a bit of a magic mineral which affects almost all parts of your body including both physical wellness and mental health. Around half of adults are thought to be deficient in magnesium but this can be helped by upping your intake of spinach, dark chocolate, almonds, bananas and oily fish like salmon and tuna.
A number of physical conditions can cause a hormonal imbalance which can wreak havoc with your emotions. If you are feeling tired and generally achy this can also be a sign of illness. This could include a thyroid disorder, low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia, changes in the menstrual cycle or the onset of menopause, or something more serious.
Stress: Overworked, spread too thin and running on empty
You might not have any mental, physical or health deficiency, but just be a grown-up in the modern day. You might be a parent who works and worries about money and who never has time for exercise or friends. The idea of ‘me-time’ might be completely foreign to you.
All of this puts incredible stress and tension onto your system. The point of stress is that your body recognises that it’s under-resourced and that you need to change something now. No person is meant to be under stress for any lengthy period of time, stress is a warning sign to lighten the load.
You need to address the things in your life that are piling up and reduce the aspects that you have some control over, or get help with them. If you can’t remove sources of stress then you might want to look into better ways to manage it, like yoga, meditation or mindfulness.
You might also be very tired. Your body needs sleep of a certain length and quality every night to maintain the high standards you tend to put it through, usually at least 6-7 hours for adults. A once off big day or late night here and there is ok, but consistently long periods of broken or poor sleep can have a very drastic effect on many aspects of your physical, mental and emotional self.
As you can see, there are many reasons for feeling down. If you are feeling one or more of the above symptoms without any good reason, then the best thing you can do is see your GP for advice and options.