Mood tone refers to the level of mood that a person might be experiencing – how balanced it is, and how it might change or fluctuate depending on situations. Keeping the tone or level of moods stable is important for a large number of reasons, including long-term health.

Keeping a balanced mood is also important for everyday wellbeing. If people are experiencing low mood, feelings might include sadness, tiredness, increased tension or anxiety, and might last a few days. Low moods are a natural part of life rather than a medical condition, but it is important to recognise them and recognise if they may be becoming a longer-term problem.

Neuraxpharm provides natural alternatives for mood tone and once your healthcare professional has determined your specific needs, they can advise the product that best adapts to your needs and condition.

Find out more about how to keep a balanced mood, the scientific reasons for low mood, what causes these feelings, what to look out for, who might be most susceptible, and what can be done to mitigate them.

What is mood tone?

Mood tone refers to the level of a person’s mood – how balanced it is in any given situation. Keeping the tone of our moods balanced is important not only for mental wellbeing, but also for physical health.

A balanced mood is one in which emotions are relatively stable, and there are no prominent feelings of anxiety, worry or sadness. Those in balanced moods are likely to be able to go about their days in their usual manner, without giving too much thought to things that might go wrong or that they might need to worry about. Experiencing balanced moods, as well as low moods, is a natural part of life.

What is poor mood tone?

There are a huge number of factors that affect mood tone, including environment, life events and personal circumstances.

Poor mood tone (or ‘low mood’) is described by scientists as being based on ‘rewards’, and how often people feel like they are receiving them. For example, a person might be in a low mood during winter, when they might subconsciously start to feel that a lack of light is a kind of punishment. This low mood might continue when these perceived ‘non-rewards’ or ‘punishments’ (e.g. long winter evenings) seem to continue.

Psychiatrists also believe that evolution has caused us to tend towards low mood rather than positivity, as a survival technique. Low mood has been described as “an adaptive response to unfavourable circumstances” – i.e. people use it for self-preservation when things get tough.

There is no set reason for low mood; different people have entirely different circumstances that affect how they feel at certain times or on certain days (some people, for example, will enjoy cosy winter evenings, and not perceive them as a ‘punishment’ at all.) This means that low mood can be difficult for medical professionals to recognise.

People’s moods are hugely important, because they can lead to other health disorders if they remain persistently low. A persistent low mood is likely to have negative consequences in the long-term, so it is important to think about how it can be addressed.

Being aware of what has caused a low mood may be useful in managing it, and might lead someone to make changes in lifestyle that will improve the way they feel in the long-term.

Causes of poor mood tone

It will come as no surprise that there are many reasons for low mood. Sometimes it might be a consequence of major life events, whilst in other cases it might be caused by incidents that could be perceived as minor – but that still have significant mood-altering consequences for the individual.

Various causes of low mood have been cited by experts. In children and adolescents, low mood might come as a result of poor family support, maladjustment to school, inability to cope in social situations, or low levels of physical activity. In adults, studies have attributed low mood to events including the death of loved ones, romantic break-ups, social isolation, failure to reach specified goals, marital status and living situation, and general stress.

Whilst these are far-reaching causes that might have a wider impact on other areas of life, there can be more specific causes for low mood too. These could include anything from vitamin D deficiency to the side effects of hormonal contraception, dealing with cancer, having unexplained medical symptoms, or having an illness such as inflammatory bowel disease.

What is good mood tone?

Good mood tone can be classed as one where no strong emotional events are occurring, and will usually be characterised by feelings of calm, positivity, happiness, acceptance and very little sense of anxiety or tension. Someone experiencing a good mood may feel more motivated to go outside, more energised to see friends, and more positive generally about the future.

What to look out for

There are various things to look out for if you suspect someone may be struggling to keep a balanced mood.

Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue and lack of energy: If someone is feeling tired all the time, it might because of their mood. When we are in a low mood, our brains use more glucose, meaning there is less available to boost our energy levels.
  • Insomnia: If someone is suffering from disrupted sleep or insomnia, this could be related to their mood during the day. Children might also have problems with hyperactivity related to their low moods and sleeping patterns.

Lifestyle changes

  • Increased alcohol dependence: If someone is relying on increased use of alcohol, this could be because their mood is low

Mental sympotms

  • Increased anger or frustration: Those suffering from low mood might find themselves more frustrated than usual, even if they don’t consciously make the connection between feelings of frustration and their mood.
  • Insomnia: Increased feelings of tension: Tension, especially over things that people feel they can’t control, is a common side effect of a persistent low or unbalanced mood.
  • Anxiety: Those suffering from low mood are also likely to experience an increase in their anxiety levels, which could play into the frustration and tension that they are already feeling.

Who might be susceptible?

Difficulties with balancing mood can affect anyone, at any age. Children, adolescents, working age adults and older people might all find themselves suffering from low mood, for various reasons. As noted above, though, people may be more likely to experience low mood at certain stages of life.

  • Children and adolescents: Children and teenagers might find themselves susceptible to low mood for various reasons, ranging from hormonal changes, friendship issues and big changes such as moving to a new house or school, to family circumstances or lack of perceived control over their lives. Negative life events are also likely to cause significant periods of low mood in children and young people.
  • Those with learning disabilities: People living with learning disabilities might experience higher levels of isolation than the general population, and also might find themselves struggling to communicate their needs. Both of these factors could lead to periods where their mood is low.
  • Women: There are a number of factors, including socioeconomic, that might mean women are more susceptible than men towards low or unbalanced moods, although women are more likely than men to seek help.
  • Older people: Older people are also more likely than younger people to suffer with loneliness and isolation, which can lead to low mood. Low mood has also been linked with cognitive decline in older people.

What can we do to maintain a balanced mood?

Mood is dependent on many factors, including the context and circumstances of individuals, and isn’t a diagnosable condition, meaning there isn’t a set medical way to approach treating it. There are, however, various things that individuals can do themselves to keep their mood balanced.

Self-management

  • Exercise: Exercise is often cited as a good way to increase positivity and mood:13 the mental health benefits of being outside and of fresh air, and the effect of endorphins, are well documented.
  • Mindfulness: A programme of mindfulness, incorporating stress reduction techniques, can be useful in alleviating symptoms of low mood.
  • Challenging negative thoughts: Negative thought patterns can seem impenetrable, but attempts to overcome them can be made by first assessing the evidence on whether they are rational or not, and then by beginning to incorporate these more balanced thought patterns into everyday life.
  • Cutting back on alcohol: Alcohol is a depressive, meaning it can negatively affect mood – especially if someone is already feeling low. Being conscious of drinking and cutting back where necessary can go a long way to improving mood.

Professional help

It is important to note that low mood is not a medical diagnosis. However, people who have tried various methods to elevate their moods themselves and haven’t found any effective remedy might consider seeking help from a professional to improve their state of mind. Professional support could include, but is not limited to:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT works by breaking down large problems into smaller parts in order to successfully address them. It has been cited as a potential treatment for those suffering from low mood.
  • Appropriate medication: If self-care techniques are not enough, a healthcare professional may prescribe antidepressants or other medication. Note that professional advice should be sought before taking any medication.

Scientific studies

Current research into mood tone focuses on the effects of low mood on individuals in certain specific contexts: those with certain medical conditions or who have suffered trauma in the past, for example. There is currently little research into low mood amongst the general population. Studies tend to focus on how individuals mitigate the effects of their low moods, and how lifestyle changes can be implemented in order to positively affect mental health, rather than focusing on a medical approach. 

Research has focused on how individuals self-medicate, including through alcohol, and how marital and living situations can influence low mood. Amongst children, environmental contexts and physical activity have been considered, as well as diagnoses of illnesses including cancer. Studies have also looked into whether there is an easier way to diagnose patients with low mood, as it is something that is not often diagnosed in primary care settings.

Referenced sources

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