The Low Mood Cycle

Welcome to the next module!

From previous lessons, we have discussed how low self-esteem (LSE) develops and is created. We have also discussed how It can manifest alongside mental health issues, particularly low mood and depression. Consistently experiencing self-critical thoughts about oneself can trigger uncomfortable emotions such as feelings of hopelessness. In turn, our motivation and ability to problem-solve is disrupted. We may engage in unhelpful (but understandable) behaviours like isolating ourselves or giving up on whatever it is we are finding difficult. All of which can contribute to low mood, or in more severe cases, depression. For example, it could manifest as a brief feeling of sadness that dissipates with simple distraction, or snowball and become quite an overwhelming depressive episode. When in this ‘rut’ you are more likely to engage in self-critical thoughts, which once again impacts your mood. In this way depression becomes part of this vicious cycle of LSE.

How low self-esteem relates to low mood and/or depressive episodes relates strongly to our rules of living – specifically what happens when we break these rules, as demonstrated in the figure below.

The Low Mood Cycle Brighter Life Therapy
The figure demonstrates the relationship between LSE and depression.

The cycle starts during a trigger situation whereby your rules of living are consequently broken. This activates the core belief that the self-set rules try to ‘protect’ you from. This in turn leads you to engage in self-critical thinking, leading you to feel low. This low mood then feeds into your core belief, pushing you to continue to engage in self-critical thinking.

The Low Mood Cycle Brighter Life Therapy
Rumination also plays a part in depression and low self-esteem.

Rumination can also be part of low mood!
You might find yourself ruminating too – this is where you think over situations from the past (perhaps other difficult work situations) often with a sense of blame towards yourself for doing something wrong. Focusing on negative thoughts, mistakes and regrets contributes to a negative self-image. Rumination can be considered a form of overthinking rather than constructive problem-solving, and instead fuels low self-esteem and even depression.