The current corona pandemic situation has the potential to affect our minds and moods quite unfavorably. While trying to understand mental disturbances, many of us as common people tend to mix up the mood with emotion. Emotions last for minutes but moods are usually long-lasting (for hours or days). Moods need not be about anything in particular or with any immediate cause but emotions are about clear matters with high relevance.
Mood disturbances could be the longer-lasting effects of emotional troubles. It is true that we often fail to find an immediate cause for our mood issues. But in this, it will be sensible for us to identify the problems that the mind had been grappling with for some time. While doing so, care needs to be taken to avoid blaming anyone including ourselves for the situation, that too without any sensible justification.
Lowness in mood may usually have pre-existing conditions contributing to it. General fatigue or tiredness, issues with food, use of intoxicants like alcohol, lack of any meaningful activities to do, anxieties about closely connected people, some medications being taken, some pre-menstrual, postpartum (post-delivery) or menopausal conditions, unsatisfactory work environment, lack of sleep (insomnia), strain in the relationship with closely connected people and even certain weather conditions can be some of them. There can also be persistent mood issues and mood swings in people who are suffering from certain kinds of mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, or depression. If lowered mood or mood swings become persistent, avoiding to visit or consult a mind-care professional like a psychologist or a psychiatrist will do further harm. Such avoidance of professional help happens in most Indian societies because of the taboo attached by them to mental health conditions.
Managing lingering mood matters requires the following:
- If the person concerned has a better awareness of the condition, attempts should be made to identify the precipitating events or matters and handle them well. Communicating with the people involved in them and even having an inner conversation with self to try and reason out the situation even from the point of view of the others involved may help in better mind-management.
- If the mood symptoms are prolonged and nothing done to manage them is helping, there surely is a need to seek help from a mind-care professional.
- Mood lowers when one fails to look after himself/herself in terms of the basic comforts, food, sleep, interaction with others, engaging in meaningful activities, etc. Try to improve on these.
- Do not hesitate to enjoy the available joys and pleasures. This may include having the food you like, taking rest, talking to someone you like, fantasizing, daydreaming, watching a movie, etc.
- Get engaged in some hobbies that involve mental or physical activities.
- Try to communicate with sensible people with whom you can connect well. Conversely, avoid people who spread negativity.
- Take care of yourself in terms of your appearance – for males who shave, do not stop doing it because of a disturbed mood. Ditto with the haircut. For females too, try to keep yourself presentable. The best in this is to look into the mirror and observe you get an idea of how others will view you.
- If there are worries of any kind, try to figure out if the matters involved are really bothersome. Check out if the situation is going to be as troubling even after some time, say six months or one year, as it is appearing to be right now. Also, try to resolve the matters involved at the earliest and in the best way you can.
Now about helping others in handling mood disturbances - if you find any of your closely connected people in such a situation, do try to help him/her by doing the following:
- If necessary, guide the person towards getting help from mental health professionals.
- Communicate with the person giving a sense that you understand his / her plight quite well and it is quite manageable.
- Avoid giving advice, sermons or morale lecture to the person and also shun fault-finding.
- Encourage the person to communicate and express emotions. If he/she sheds tears, do not discourage by saying ‘big people don’t cry’.
- Children too suffer mood issues. Help them handle the condition in whatever best way possible including by applying the points as mentioned above. Giving the child a feeling that you are there to help him/her is more important than trying to become an advisor or a critic.
Mood disturbances can be seen in many living beings especially among animals. Human societies do have the capabilities to handle them effectively including with the help of mental health professionals. Despite this, the sad state especially in India is that people view mind-care efforts with a lot of stigmas. That makes our plight not very different even from the animals.