Stress, Anxiety, and Low Mood are psychological states that can impact our mental health and overall well-being.

1. Stress: Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. It can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). All individuals react differently to stress, and it may cause a variety of physical symptoms and changes in behavior. It can negatively affect your health, both physically and mentally, when it’s chronic or persistent.

2. Anxiety: This is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe. Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion, but when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses leading to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behaves, also causing physical symptoms.

Stress and anxiety

3. Low Mood: Also often referred to as a depressed mood, is a symptomatic of a number of different conditions and disorders, including depression, a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is more intense and long-lasting than just a “low mood” and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems which may decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. It encompasses feelings such as melancholy, desperation, and despair.

These three states are interconnected and can often coexist or trigger one another. It’s crucial to recognize and address these conditions, as left untreated, they can lead to more serious mental and physical health problems. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these, and it’s best to consult a health professional for advice.

Causes of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Stress, anxiety and low mood (or depression) can all be triggered by a variety of factors, both internal (biological, genetic) and external (environmental).

1. Stress: This is typically a reaction to external pressures or threats, whether real or perceived. It can be caused by major life events such as moving house, divorce, or bereavement, as well as everyday pressures like work, school, or family commitments. When faced with a stressful situation, the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered, leading to physiological changes such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.

2. Anxiety: This involves excessive and persistent worrying about everyday situations. It may have a number of triggers, including traumatic events, health concerns, and work or personal relationship problems. Like stress, anxiety is also linked to the ‘fight or flight’ response, and can result in physical symptoms like racing heart, trembling, and shortness of breath.

3. Low Mood/Depression: This is a common mental health problem that causes people to experience low mood, lack of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. It may be caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Biological causes may include genetics and changes in neurochemistry. Psychological causes may include personality traits, coping style, and cognition (negative thinking patterns). Social factors can involve traumatic life experiences such as violence, neglect, poverty, and experiences of discrimination or social exclusion.

Chronic or long-term stress and anxiety can also lead to low mood or depression. It’s important to note that these conditions can feed into one another, creating a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break without professional help.

Remember, everybody’s experience with stress, anxiety, and depression is different. What might be merely bothersome for one person might be highly distressing for another. Similarly, the triggers and causes mentioned above are not exhaustive, and each person’s causes could be a unique mix of various factors.

Risk Factors of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Stress, anxiety, and low mood (or depression) have several risk factors that could either trigger, contribute to, or exacerbate their symptoms. These risk factors can be biological, psychological, environmental, or lifestyle-related. Here are some of them:

1. Biological Factors:
Genetics: These mental health conditions often run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition.
Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain may contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Physical Health: Chronic physical illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes might lead to these conditions.

2. Psychological Factors:
Personality Traits: Some people, including those with low self-esteem, perfectionists, or those with a pessimistic outlook, may be more prone to these conditions.
Previous Mental Health Issues: Having had one episode of severe stress, anxiety, or depression makes it more likely you’ll experience it again.

3. Environmental Factors:
Extreme Stress: Traumatic events or prolonged exposure to stressful situations (e.g., abuse, violence, poverty) can provoke these conditions.
Loss & Grief: The death of a loved one, divorce, or loss of a job can trigger a period of stress, anxiety, or depression.
Substance Abuse: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, or misuse of prescription medications can contribute to or worsen these conditions.

4. Lifestyle Factors:
Lack of Physical Activity: Regular physical activity boosts mood and acts as a natural stress-reliever.
Poor Diet: A diet lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids can affect your mood and energy level.
Social Isolation: Lack of social contact or support can lead to feelings of loneliness and despair.

It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that someone will suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression. These conditions are complex and often result from a combination of factors. Also, early detection and professional intervention can effectively manage and treat these conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Stress, anxiety, and low mood, often referred to as depression, can encompass various symptoms that affect both mind and body. Here are some common signs and symptoms to be vigilant for:

1. Stress:
Physical symptoms: Headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, decreased libido, gastrointestinal issues, and sleep problems.
Emotional symptoms: Feeling overwhelmed or frantic, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, excessive worrying, Irritability or short temperedness, restlessness, etc.

2. Anxiety:
Physical symptoms: Restlessness, fatigue, tremors, sweating, palpitations, chest discomfort, and hyperventilation.
Emotional symptoms: Feelings of nervousness or panic, difficulty concentrating or thinking, a sense of impending doom, excessive fear/worry, and being overly alert & vigilant.

3. Low Mood (Depression):
Physical symptoms: Persistent sadness or feeling low, decreased energy levels or fatigue, sleep disturbances (insomnia or oversleeping), appetite changes (overeating or having no interest in food), unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
Emotional symptoms: Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, difficulty in concentration or making decisions, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, irritability, persistent thoughts of death or suicide.

These are non-specific symptoms and may suggest other health concerns too. Therefore, if you or someone else notice these signs, it would be important to seek a professional advice. Remember, it’s okay to seek help and it is possible to feel better with appropriate care and treatment.

Diagnosis Stress, anxiety and low mood

“Stress, anxiety, and low mood” is a general term that represents a combination of emotional symptoms that a person could be experiencing. Here’s what the individual components mean:

1. Stress: This refers to the body’s response to any kind of challenge or demand, be it physical, psychological, or environmental. It’s typically associated with feelings of frustration, nervousness, or anxiety. Physical symptoms of stress can include headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and trouble sleeping.

2. Anxiety: This relates to feelings of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe and might interfere with daily life activities. Symptoms can include restlessness, a sense of dread, feeling constantly “on edge”, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

3. Low Mood: This usually refers to a state of feeling emotionally down, sad, or depressed. It’s often associated with feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, and a lack of interest or pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable.

These conditions often overlap, and one can lead to the other or exacerbate the symptoms of the other. That’s why they are often grouped together. It’s important that if someone is experiencing these symptoms to a degree that it’s interfering with their daily life or their ability to function, they should seek help from a mental health professional. Various treatment options including counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes can often help to manage these issues.

Treatment of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Stress, Anxiety, and Low Mood (or depression) can often interrelate and it may be challenging yet crucial to manage these issues for mental wellbeing. Here are some treatments that healthcare professionals might recommend:

1. Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is proven to be effective in treating these issues. It helps you understand your thought patterns, recognize negative thinking, and change behavior.

2. Mindfulness Techniques: Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps us focus on being intensely aware of what we’re sensing and feeling, without interpretation or judgment. It’s a great way to sort through thoughts and emotions without getting overwhelmed.

3. Medication: Depending on the severity, doctors might prescribe medication. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication might be prescribed. It’s crucial to take them as instructed and express any side effects to your doctor.

4. Self-Care: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and reduction of caffeine and alcohol can help to improve mood and decrease stress and anxiety.

5. Social Support: A good support system of friends, family, or support groups is beneficial. Sometimes, being able to talk through feelings or concerns can alleviate some of the burdens.

6. Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, massage, and muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and anxiety.

7. Psychological treatments: These include cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and stress inoculation training.

8. Self-help Techniques: Books or online resources that provide tools to manage stress, anxiety, and low moods can greatly help; they often utilize the concepts of CBT.

Remember, everyone is different and while some people may respond well to first-line treatment, others may require a different approach. Always consult a medical professional for advice tailored to individual circumstances.

Medications commonly used for Stress, anxiety and low mood

Medications commonly used to manage stress, anxiety, and low mood include:

1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are typically the first line of treatment for stress, anxiety, and depression. They work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood. Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro), and sertraline (Zoloft).

2. Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): These medications also increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain to elevate mood. Examples include venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

3. Benzodiazepines: These are used to treat acute stress and anxiety but may also lead to dependence if used for longer periods. They work by enhancing the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that reduces brain activity, thereby producing a calming effect. Examples are alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

4. Beta-blockers: These are used to manage physical symptoms of anxiety like a fast heartbeat, shaking hands/voice, and perspiration. They block the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Propranolol (Inderal) is commonly used.

5. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): These are typically used when other treatments are ineffective. They increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine and block the action of acetylcholine, which can help improve mood. Examples are amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor) and imipramine (Tofranil).

6. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): These are also used when other treatments don’t work. They prevent the breakdown of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which can improve mood. Examples are phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

7. Atypical Antidepressants: These are a broad category of drugs that do not fit into other classifications. Wellbutrin (Bupropion), for example, affects dopamine and norepinephrine, not serotonin.

8. Antipsychotics: In some cases, drugs like Abilify (Aripiprazole) or Seroquel (Quetiapine) are used off-label to help control symptoms of anxiety or depression.

These medications are only intended to serve as part of a treatment plan, often combined with psychotherapy or other forms of therapy. It is vital to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from a healthcare provider, as these medications can have side effects and may interact with other drugs or substances. Never self-medicate or alter your prescribed medication schedule without speaking to a healthcare provider.

Prevention of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Preventing stress, anxiety, and low mood involves multiple strategies and habits that contribute to overall mental and emotional wellbeing:

1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity boosts the production of endorphins, which are known as ‘feel-good’ hormones. This can help eliminate stress and generate feelings of happiness and relaxation.

2. Balanced Diet: Consuming a well-balanced, nutritious diet can improve your overall health, and also impact your mood and energy levels.

3. Adequate Sleep: Sleep is necessary for our bodies and brains to replenish and restore. Lack of sleep can lead to mental fatigue which can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and low mood.

4. Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices help you to stay focused on the present moment, reduce negative thought patterns and combat anxiety and stress.

Stress and anxiety

5. Social Connections: Form positive relationships with the people around you. Socializing can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

6. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Drugs: These substances can cause or increase feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.

7. Self-care: Take time out each day to relax and rejuvenate your body. This could include reading a book, having a bath, or practicing a hobby.

8. Therapy/Counseling: If stress, anxiety and low mood become overwhelming, seeking professional help such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial.

9. Practicing Positive Thinking: Positive thinking can help manage stress levels and improve your overall wellbeing. It helps eliminate thoughts of anxiety and replaces them with positive thoughts.

10. Regular Check-ups: Regular healthcare checkups help identify any issues early and can prevent them from getting bigger and causing stress.

11. Limit Caffeine: High quantities of caffeine can instigate anxiety and depressive symptoms. Try to limit your consumption of caffeine-rich products.

12. Time Management: Effective time management can help you prioritize tasks and reduce anxiety and stress related to getting work done.

It is important to remember that each person is different and not all of these methods may work for everyone. It’s crucial to find what works best for you and incorporate it into your routine for better mental health. If you feel persistently stressed, anxious, or low, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

FAQ’s about Stress, anxiety and low mood

1. What is Stress?
Stress is a natural reaction of the body to any changes that require an adjustment or response. It can be triggered by various situations in life, such as work, family or personal issues. Stress can be beneficial in small amounts, however, too much stress can negatively affect your mental and physical health.

2. What causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like worry or fear, and can be mild or severe. Some common causes include work stress, financial stress, use of illicit substances, or certain physical illnesses. It can also be triggered by traumatic events or a fear of upcoming events.

3. What causes a low mood?
A low mood or depression, can result from many different factors including genetics, chemical imbalances in the brain, stress, trauma, or major life changes. It’s important to understand that low moods that last for a long time, and affect your ability to go about your daily life, could be a sign of depression.

4. Can Stress, Anxiety and Low Mood be treated?
Yes, stress, anxiety, and low mood can be effectively treated. Treatments can include therapy (like cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dialectical-behavioral therapy), medication, self-care strategies (like regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep), and social support.

5. Is it normal to experience these feelings?
Yes, everyone experiences stress, anxiety, and low mood at some points in their lives. These are normal responses to certain situations. However, if these feelings persist for extended periods of time, if they’re causing distress, or if they’re interfering with your daily life, it might be advisable to seek professional help.

6. How can I manage my stress levels?
You can manage stress by using stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. Regular physical activity also helps lower stress levels. It can also be helpful to make sure you’re taking time out for relaxation and self-care.

7. How can I help reduce my anxiety levels?
Anxiety can be relieved through various methods including cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and self-help techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization techniques.

8. How can I overcome low moods?
Overcoming low mood often involves a combination of self-care habits like sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, social support, psychotherapy, and in some cases, medication.

9. When should I seek professional help?
It’s best to seek professional help if your feelings of stress, anxiety or low mood have not improved after trying self-help methods. If these feelings are starting to affect your daily life or causing you distress, seek professional help.

Useful links

Understanding stress, anxiety, and low mood better can help mitigate their impacts on our lives. Here are some journal articles and relevant links that can help:


Always consult with a healthcare professional for personal advice, and consider therapy if you are struggling with these issues. The mentioned journals are open-access or may require subscription in some cases.

Complications of Stress, anxiety and low mood

Stress, anxiety, and low mood can cause a wide range of complications, both psychological and physical. Here is a detailed explanation of some of these complications:

1. Psychological complications:
Cognitive difficulties: Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to cognitive difficulties such as problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
Depression: Prolonged periods of stress, anxiety, and low mood can lead to depression. This could manifest in persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.
Insomnia: Stress and anxiety can cause sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This lack of rest can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, creating a negative cycle.
Development of anxiety disorders: Chronic stress can lead to the development of specific anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or social anxiety disorder.
Personality changes: Ongoing stress, anxiety, and low mood can lead to changes in personality, including becoming more withdrawn or aggressive.

2. Physical complications:
Increased risk of heart disease: Chronic stress can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Weakened immune system: Prolonged stress and anxiety can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.
Digestive problems: These are common in people who have stress, anxiety and low mood. These issues can include stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation, or more serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcers.
Weight issues: Stress and low mood can lead to changes in appetite and eating behaviors, leading to potential weight gain or weight loss.
Muscle tension or pain: Chronic stress and anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as muscle tension or pain, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back.

These potential complications highlight the importance of seeking help when stress, anxiety and low mood become overwhelming. A mental health professional can provide effective treatments, including psychotherapy and medication.

Home remedies of Stress, anxiety and low mood

In order to manage stress, anxiety and low mood, there are several natural remedies and lifestyle changes you can try:

1. Exercise: Regular physical activity helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It increases the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, which help improve mood and act as natural painkillers.

2. Balanced diet: Eating a healthy diet contributes to overall well-being and improves mood. Drink plenty of water and include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains in your diet.

3. Sleep: Proper sleep is important for emotional wellbeing. Set a sleep schedule and ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

4. Deep Breathing: Techniques such as deep breathing can relieve stress and anxiety instantly. You can try deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation.

5. Herbal Teas: Certain kinds of teas like chamomile and green tea contain natural stress releasers. They have been known to calm your mind and help in dealing with anxiety.

6. Essential Oils: Some people find relief from symptoms of anxiety & stress using essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood.

7. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine: These substances can increase levels of anxiety and lead to poorer quality of sleep.

8. Chew Gum: Chewing gum can help reduce anxiety and improve alertness.

9. Socializing: Stay connected with family and friends. Avoid isolation. Social support can help you get through stressful times.

10. Laughter: Engaging in activities that make you laugh or smile can help reduce your stress.

Remember, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional if you are feeling overly stressed, anxious, or have a persistent low mood. These tips are supplemental aids and may not be suitable for everyone, especially those suffering from chronic or severe symptoms.

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Last Update: January 13, 2024