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Published on May 1, 2019

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

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying 20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia The Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Self-Compassion Meditation Why Do I Feel Depressed Every Once in a While for No Reason?

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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