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10 times when anxiety and low mood may not actually be anxiety or low mood!

Updated: Mar 27

Sarah Cutler I CWC Director I 24 April 2021

12 years in with an anxiety and low mood disorder, and I can still be fooled about this!!! But what do I mean? Well...there are certain 'states' of being that share similar symptoms or side effects to those of anxiety or feeling low or depressed...and sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference. Sometimes I'll think i'm on the way to another 'dip' or 'relapse' until I realise...something else is actually causing those feelings! Here are some examples...

1. Tiredness and Fatigue.

We all know that when we're tired we can feel a bit blue and often we can become a bit more emotional and sensitive. This is because a fatigued brain mimics a depressed a brain and the more tired you are, the lower you may feel, which is why people with chronic fatigue syndrome are often likely to develop depression or feelings of depression. But when it's just general tiredness it's important to try and differentiate if you're feeling low because you're low or just because you're tired. If your mood improves after a nap or when you start to find more energy...then it was probably just lethargy related.

2. When you feel relaxed or you finally stop.

Basically when you start to relax or finally let your mind and body stop, you may experience a release of pent up emotions. You may also start to feel a bit sleepy, so cue the above section!

3. You're dehydrated!

A dehyrated brain also mimicks a depressed brain. If you drink a whole glass of water and your mood starts to improve, you'll know you were dehyrated.

5. Too much coffee or alcohol.

Coffee not only dehydrates you and causes headaches but can cause your heart to race and cause feelings of being overly on edge - mimicking the sensations of anxiety. Alcohol dehydrates and makes us emotional. Cut down a bit and see how you feel.

4. You're ill?

When you have a cold or bug, you'll have depleted energy, will be tired and maybe even dehydrated. Cue sections 1 and 3!

5. You might have a headache!

6. Hormones

Don't underestimate their impact on your mood - and at any time of your cycle, as they fluctuate at certain times of the day!! Some of us can be extremely sensitive to this, causing significant impact to our quality of life.

7. Brain chemical fluctuations.

Just like hormones the natural chemicals in our brain that regulate mood fluctuate throughout the day. Again...some may be more sensitive to this than others!

8. You haven't eaten enough..

Or enough of the right thing?! Ever been hangry? Then you'll know all about this one! Lack of food can also cause a dip in energy, making your mood drop! Think about the peaks and dips of your blood sugar!

9. Excited and nervous energy.

It may sound strange, but actually the feeling of being excited, nervous or in anticipation can be similar to anxiety. Having had anxiety for a long time it becomes easy to automatically associate a feeling with being anxious when actually it might just be nerves.

10. The weather sucks!

We all know how grey weather makes us feel! And don't underestimate how much of an impact it can have on us!! More and more people are being diagnosed with SAD disorder. If you start to recognise a significant change in mood depending on the weather that is effecting your quality of life it may be time to seek some advice.


It's always useful when you feel a bit low or anxious to assess what else is currently going on and whether those feelings are real or caused by something else. Often realising you're feeling that way because you're dehydrated or tired can help lessen those negative feelings. Of course if feelings of anxiety or depression do continue despite any of the topics above, you should visit your GP!


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