We offer specific tools and practices to energize a Sluggish
Mood. Read about your subtype below, then choose the tools and practices you'd like to use on your pathway to joy.
The sluggish mood is the subtype most likely to knock you off your feet, making it difficult to get off the couch or function at all. It may occur at any time, but it is more common in winter when your body thinks it is time to hibernate. The sluggish mood can also occur after a prolonged period of stress or when an anxious or agitated sub-type goes untreated and wears you down over time.
Many people picture this pattern when they think of “depression,” in part because it is hard to hide the symptoms of the sluggish subtype. If you're experiencing this pattern you may describe your mood as sad, down, or simply flat or dull—emotionless. Both mind and body seem to move slowly, as if shrouded by fog or carrying an extra heavy burden. Sleep may be excessive, as much as 12-14 hours a day. However, this sleep excess may function as an escape from life rather than a response to a real need for sleep, which can create a continuing cycle of lethargy. If you're experiencing the sluggish mood, it is common to lose interest in activities and have trouble enjoying even those things you force yourself to do.
In terms of brain chemistry, this pattern likely reflects a state of depletion rather than excess. The important brain chemicals that keep you energized and motivated are dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is often considered the “pleasure chemical” because it is so involved in the experience of enjoyment or pleasure. That may also be why dopamine is so closely tied to addiction—when the dopamine system is faulty, people will do most anything to get another dopamine hit.
Dopamine is also strongly involved with motivation, and with the sluggish pattern, motivation is usually nonexistent. To stay motivated and energized, dopamine works closely with its partner chemical, norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is very similar to epinephrine, also known as “adrenaline.” You can think of it as the brain’s own stress hormone. Remember that a little stress is a good thing—it helps keep us alert, focused, and mobilized. So when our system is producing insufficient norepinephrine, our mind feels dull and sluggish. It is hard to get going, even for things we would normally enjoy.
There are many things you can do to boost your resilience in the face of stress. And there are many strategies that can help you balance your subtype and calm the Sluggish Mood. See below key tools to help you reclaim your joy.
This website is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Join Dr. Emmons as he walks you through natural and mindfulness approaches to balance your subtype and reclaim your joy. This self-guided program allows you to move at your own pace, but is also complemented by a community group space. This space offers fresh monthly content and conversations to enrich your journey. Sign up for the waitlist to learn more and receive special early and discounted access when the program launches in Fall 2019.