More articles by

Vandana Kohli
Vandana Kohli


Low pitch

A sense of worthlessness could have a physiological basis


We all have blue days. It may start with sluggishness or even a struggle to get out of bed. The prospect of facing the day may make us groan. In such moments, when, in fact, we are most unprepared, larger philosophical questions may pervade our thoughts. Why am I feeling like this? What am I living for? Who am I? What is the meaning of all this? What is the point?

These questions can spin the mind. While they are fundamental and are worth exploring, they tend to arise out of distress. In moments when one is already feeling low, they can overwhelm. Rather than help us in a deeper search, they can dampen and even debilitate our efforts towards feeling better.

It might make better sense to set them aside for the time being, and check a few other parameters to determine the cause for feeling down.


A first step of use is to recall what was eaten the night before. Was it a heavy meal? An unusual one, different from what one is normally accustomed to? Was it had too late for whatever reason?

The next question is even a better pointer. Did one have a drink? Maybe one had too many in the company of friends, or in the drift of an evening that turned out more pleasant than expected? What drink was it? Was it the one usually had? Even if it is, and in a quantity that one is accustomed to, the body begins to change with time and these are the signs it might throw up to tell of the changes—sluggishness, heaviness and low spirits.


Another pointer to feeling low over a period of time is accumulated fatigue. This may come from less sleep or a disturbed one. Sometimes, one feeds on the other. Less rest can cause you to feel tired and fatigued, which, in turn, affects the quality of sleep adversely. Again, diet affects sleep. If one is too stuffed or very hungry, it is going to impact sleep.

Fatigue could be, and usually is, mental as well. It may come from working long hours and from stress. We tend to ignore the body under stress, and push it beyond its reserves. Feeling exhausted or mentally dull and low may be a direct result of a stressful period of work.

Monotony can also cause fatigue. To counter that, even within a given routine and circumstance, a small change for the day is helpful. Throw in a meeting with someone you like, at work or outside it. Start with smaller tasks—making a couple of pending phone calls. Ticking them off a list can kick-start the day.


A vital pointer to feeling low, fatigued and pointless is levels of vitamins and essential nutrients in the body. A simple blood test can clear the cause. Deficient levels of B12, iron and D3 are often the most common causes for feeling blue.

I found out recently, for my own self, that all three were deficient. It came as a relief, this revelation, that something so simple was the reason behind the world and life seeming so bleak. It is laughable, almost, to think of how unnecessary it was for all those mornings and days to have felt depressingly burdensome. The larger questions of what is pointless and what is not, meanwhile, may be reserved for when the body is stronger and the mind more stable.

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The Week

Topics : #health

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