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Why Do I Feel Depressed Every Once in a While for No Reason?

Why Do I Feel Depressed Every Once in a While for No Reason?

Many people ask themselves, “Why do I feel depressed for no reason?”

The truth is that there is always a reason. They just don’t know what it is. The brain is a complex organ, and it takes a great deal of self-awareness to fully understand our thoughts and emotions.

Mild depression is quite common. We all have periods in our lives when we feel sad, and have trouble shaking it off. It may not seem like a big deal, but if we let mild depression fester, then it can diminish our health and quality of life.

Do you want to spend your precious time feeling down, or living life to its fullest?

Below I’ll discuss some of the common reasons why you may feel depressed, and then share with you some simple and effective tools for getting you out of your funk, and to help you develop the self-awareness and inner strength to prevent it in the future.

Why Do I Feel Depressed?

Understanding why you feel depressed is an important step to treating and preventing depression.

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to figure out why you’re feeling sad. Sometimes, you just need to observe what is going on in your body, mind, and your life.

Here are some of the more common causes of mild depression:

Feeling Stress Out and Overwhelmed

Stress can be a major contributor to mild depression. Busy people have many commitments, such as work, family life, and extracurricular activities. All of these can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

The way stress contributes to depression is that when you’re so busy, you don’t have time to give your mind a rest. When this happens, your thoughts gain so much momentum that it’s almost impossible to slow it down. And when your mind is racing out of control, you begin feeling like you’re losing control of your life.

Physical Health Conditions

What is your body telling you?

There are various physical conditions that can lead to depression. One of them is Vitamin D deficiency. Studies have shown that approximately 42% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. The numbers are much higher among Hispanics and African-Americans, 69% and 82% respectively.

The solution for vitamin D deficiency is simple. Either get more of this vital nutrient through diet or supplementation, and get a little more sunlight.[1]

Changes in hormones can affect your mood. The changes may be due to thyroid function, menstrual cycle, and level of physical activity.

Exercise, in the short-term, can make you feel irritable. In the long-term, it can help you feel better about yourself.

Lack of sleep can also negatively affect your mood, and your ability to focus, which can also make you feel irritable. Maybe you’re not getting enough, or good quality sleep.

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The Past Keeps Coming Up

The wounds from your past can affect your mood without you even realizing it. If you have not fully come to terms with painful past events, then anything that reminds you of them can make you feel depressed for no apparent reason.

Even if nothing reminds you of painful events, the unconscious memories act like an undercurrent of painful thoughts that manifest themselves in your behavior and moods.

For example, if a partner in a past relationship betrayed your trust, similar behavior by a new partner can trigger the same painful emotions, sometimes without you realizing where those emotions are coming from. The subconscious mind remembers everything.

Thinking That Everyone Else Has It So Easy

Does it seem like your Facebook friends have more exciting lives than you? It’s possible their lives aren’t as exciting as they may be portraying, and you may be comparing your life, including all the ups and downs, with the highlights of their lives. This is unrealistic.

Keep in mind that excitement is not the same as true happiness and fulfillment. Excitement is a temporary sense of pleasure, and true happiness is a general state of being. It is quite possible that other people are putting up a façade to mask the pain they feel inside.

The best thing to do is not compare your life to that of others, but rather to keep doing the things that bring you true happiness and fulfillment.

Being Disrupted by Changes in Life

A basic fact of life is that everything is always changing. Nothing ever stays the same.

And if you expect things to stay the same, then it’s just a matter of time before you’re disappointed, and begin feeling depressed.

A good example of this is intimate relationships. We all love that euphoric feeling of when we first fall in love with someone. Well, those feelings change. Sometimes people drift apart, or their love for each other changes to a deeper caring for their happiness, and not just our own.

Some people can’t deal with those changing feelings. If two people begin drifting apart, sometimes they do everything they can to recreate those initial feelings. They have trouble letting go and moving on.

People Are Not as Expected

Many of us have unrealistic expectations of other people. We can often be overly critical of others, while at the same time expect them to be forgiving of our faults.

If we only see other people’s faults, then we limit the number of people with whom we can have close relationships. And if we don’t have close relationships, then we are more susceptible to getting depressed for no apparent reason.

We need to remember that other people are fallible, and we can’t make them perfect, nor is it our job to do so. If we’re going to have any quality relationships in our lives, then we need to accept people as they are.

Wishing to Have More Friends

You’ve probably heard it before: Humans are social animals. However, some people have difficulty connecting with others. They either have not developed good social skills, or are afraid of getting hurt.[2]

Whichever the case, not having good relationships with other people leaves us vulnerable to depression. And pets are not enough. We need other human beings.

One of the ways that other people help prevent us from getting depressed is that they give us support in dealing with life’s problems. They can help us sort things out in our mind, and provide us with the support necessary to build our inner strength, which will make us more resilient to depression.

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The Changing Weather

Studies have shown that the weather can affect our mood. Sometimes, just a few rainy days can make you feel depressed.

During rainstorms, some people’s tendency is to turn off the lights and crawl in bed. Clinical psychologist, Tecsia Evans, Ph.D., says it is better to turn on the lights. Studies have shown that light can increase serotonin, which improves our mood.[3]

Prolonged periods of poor weather can give us the blues without us realizing that is the cause. The winter months are notorious for bringing on mild depression, and sometimes severe depression.

If you live in a colder climate, then you are more likely to be affected by seasonal changes. Interestingly, women are more likely to suffer from adverse weather-related depression.

How to Beat the Blues

Now that you have a better idea of why you feel depressed sometimes for no apparent reason, here are some measures you can take to lift your mood.

The first part is a list of quick tips to get you out of your funk. The second part is a list of preventive measures to help build your inner strength, and keep you from getting depressed in the first place.

Quick Tips

We sometimes feel depressed for no reason because our mind is focusing on unpleasant things that may be going on in our lives.

Here are some tips to quickly lift your mood by diverting your attention to more positive things. While they’re designed to treat mild depression, they can also be used as preventive measures if you incorporate them into your life.

1. Go for a Walk

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to improve your mood quickly is to go for a walk. It helps you relieve stress by clearing your mind and getting out of yourself.

Walking can be even more calming if you do it mindfully. It’s simple. Just slow down your pace, and focus your attention on each step.

When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your footsteps.

2. Call a Friend or Family Member

Talking to someone else can help you sort things out in your mind, even if they don’t give you any advice. Sometimes just verbalizing what is going on in your life can help you figure out why you feel depressed.

Other people can also provide you with support. Just knowing there are other people who care about you can be enough to improve your mood.

3. Play with a Pet

Pets are great for giving us unconditional love. If you have pets, spend a few minutes of quality time with them. They can quickly brighten your day.

4. Make a Gratitude List

This is a powerful tool for helping you put things into proper perspective. We sometimes tend to focus on the things that are going wrong in our life. A gratitude list can remind you of all the things that are going right.

Just make a list of things you are grateful for, such as good health, a job, family, etc.

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If you don’t have these, then dig deeper. Do you have food, shelter, and clothing? Many people in the world don’t have some of the things we take for granted. Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

5. Plan a Fun Activity with a Friend

We sometimes feel depressed when all we’re doing is working, and taking care of commitments to others.

Take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy, such as going out to dinner with a friend, or to see a movie. This will give your mind a rest from all your problems.

6. Hug Someone

Feeling the warmth of a friendly embrace can make all the difference in the world. If you have a close friends or family members, give them a hug. Chances are they can also use a warm hug.

7. Let the Sunshine In

You’d be amazed at how something so simple can make you feel better. As noted above, studies have shown that sunlight can improve your mood. Even better, open the windows and smell the fresh air, and listen to the birds sing.

8. Treat Yourself

As a general rule, I usually don’t recommend indulging in sensual pleasure to fix ourselves. However, sometimes it’s fun, and harmless, to be a little bad, so long as you don’t go overboard, or make it your go-to solution to all your problems.

So treat yourself to your favorite coffee, music, or restaurant. Want some ideas? Here’re 30 Ways To Treat Yourself No Matter What.

Preventive Measures

One important lesson I learned when I was young was that it is much easier to prevent depression, than to treat it after it sets in.

Here are some practices to address the most common causes of mild depression we discussed above. They are simple, yet powerful, practices you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule to prevent you from getting depressed for no reason.

1. Meditation

Meditation is a powerful tool for helping us develop a strong mind and stable emotions. By calming our mind, we can develop our ability to see things with greater clarity, therefore, gaining a better understanding of what is happening in our mind and emotions.

Meditation will also help us heal the wounds from our past, so that they no longer trigger the painful emotions associated with them.

Meditation has many other benefits that can improve your quality of life, such as lower stress, improved physical and mental health, better sleep, and more. It can even help you live longer.

On a basic level, meditation is simply giving your mind a rest from all the sensory stimulation, and letting it settle down naturally. The great thing about meditation is you don’t have to spend a lot of time to get some benefits from the practice, and you don’t have to do it perfectly either.

To meditate, all you have to do is sit comfortably in a chair, preferably in a quiet place for a few minutes. Close your eyes, and begin following your breath. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breathing.

Start with meditating for about 5-10 minutes a day or every other day, and then gradually increase it as you’re able to sit longer. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing it correctly, or if you miss a few days. Any meditation is better than no meditation.

There are more techniques to meditation, but this is a good start.

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2. Loving-Kindness Writing Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is a common practice in some Eastern spiritual traditions. Generally, what they do is either listen to, or recite a set of positive affirmations, such as “May I be healthy and strong, loving, kind, and compassionate.”

With the writing meditation, you copy the affirmations by hand in a notebook. What this does is literally reprogram your subconscious mind, so that you naturally begin living according to the ideals of the affirmations without any conscious effort. Now, how cool is that!

What’s even better is that you only have to do the writing mediation for about 5-10 minutes a day, and you don’t even need a quiet place to do it.

You can find the exercise by googling “loving-kindness writing meditation.” Try it. It really works, and fast.

3. Volunteering

Volunteering

is a great way to help you stay grateful for everything you have, and keep you from feeling depressed. It helps you keep your life in proper perspective.

There are so many people out there who are struggling, and need your help. Yes, YOUR help. And I don’t mean monetarily. They need someone to talk with, to let them know they’re not alone with their problems, and that someone cares about their well-being.

There are so many ways you can help those in need. Here are a few of ideas:

  • Homeless shelter: These shelters operate with limited resources, and need help with their daily operations. You have valuable life experiences that can help their clients. It is truly gratifying to know that you helped someone get back on his feet.
  • Prisons: There are many inmates who have made mistakes in their lives, and sincerely want to change their ways. They’re not that different from the people at the homeless shelter in the sense that they need help learning life skills.
  • Nursing homes: One of the saddest things is to grow old, and be alone in this world. Many of the elderly don’t have any family or friends, as they’ve died before them. And even if they do have family, their visits are few and far between.

You can truly brighten their day by just being there and talking to them for a little while. Not only is this a gratifying experience, but you can also learn a lot. The elderly have great life experience to share with you.

4. Joining Social Groups

Participating in a social group is a great way to stay connected with other people who can help you navigate the challenges of life. There are many types of groups, such as hobbies and social groups.

While these are helpful, I think the ones of greatest value to help prevent us from getting depressed are support groups and spiritual groups. These types of groups are specifically designed to help you deal with life issues. You can also develop much deeper bonds with the people who attend them, compared to a hobby or social group.

A good resource for finding groups in your area is Meetup.com.

Final Thoughts

Feeling depressed for no apparent reason, or mild depression, is quite common in today’s busy world. The more activities we have, the more thoughts we have, and the more they can trigger painful emotions.

There are three basic ways to treat and prevent mild depression:

  • Cultivate a calm mind, i.e. fewer thoughts
  • Cultivate more positive thoughts
  • Transform the way you process events in your life

The suggestions discussed above will address all three. So, now you have the tools to not just treat and prevent mild depression, you now have a formula for being happy most of the time, for no apparent reason.

Featured photo credit: Daan Mooij via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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