A Promising Way to Help
with Feelings of Sadness

Everyone gets sad sometimes. It’s a natural emotion.

But if you become stuck with feelings of sadness for a prolonged period, there is a risk of sadness turning into depression.

Science is always looking for answers to help improve mood.

And there is an interesting new idea that might help prevent feelings of sadness from turning into depression.

In the past several years, there has been interesting research indicating that bacteria in the intestine might be contributing to feelings of depression. And probiotics could play a role by helping to stabilize bacteria in the gut.

Also, it has been hypothesized that taking probiotics help people to ruminate less.

Rumination occurs when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past.

Steenbergen et al. (2015) completed a study in which participants were asked to take a Probiotic for four weeks.

During this time, cognitive reactivity was measured (the extent to which a sad mood can worsen and potentially lead to depression).

Results showed that participants who took the Probiotic reported feeling less distracted by aggressive and ruminating thoughts when in a sad mood.

The positive impact on reducing rumination is crucial as difficulties with ruminating are a significant factor that can lead to depression.

Take-Home Message

Taking a high-quality Probiotic daily could be a promising new way to help prevent sadness from turning into depression. 

If you are interested in trying a Probiotic, I encourage you to discuss with your family physician or naturopath about the potential benefits of taking a Probiotic.

3 Quick Tips To Improve Mood

As I write this, approximately 1 in 8 Canadians will meet the diagnostic criteria for depression in their lifetime.

That’s high.

And this figure doesn't capture the many people who struggle with mood but don't qualify for a diagnosis of depression.

So, the more strategies you can come up with to effectively manage mood, the better.

Let’s take a look at a few strategies that can be helpful.

Use Social Support

When mood dips, it’s natural for people to want to isolate themselves and be left alone.

And when it comes to mood, this will only serve to make the problem worse.

But how much difference can social support make when it comes to improving mood?

Fuller-Thomson et al. (2016) found that social support quadruples your chance for recovering from a depressive episode.


So, when mood dips, it is essential to resist the urge to isolate and spend time with supportive people. And remember, the key criteria here is, ‘supportive.'

Focus On Positive Memories

When it comes to treating mood, efforts can often be focused on challenging and replacing negative thoughts, which is effective.

But now researchers are starting to take a closer look at the impact of focusing on positive emotions to increase mental wellbeing.

Holden et al. (2016) asked study participants to focus on positive social memories they had experienced in the past.

They were instructed to focus and savour these positive feelings, while also focusing on the other person’s positive feelings in the memory.

Participants were also instructed to complete a relaxation exercise.

Results showed that people felt more positive and relaxed when they focused on positive memories and engaged in relaxation.

And as a bonus, they also reported feeling less guilt and less fearful.

Focusing on positive emotions and genuinely engaging in these feelings appears to hold promise as a helpful new tool to improve mood.

Be In Nature

Being connected to nature sounds nice in theory. Exposure to trees, water, fresh air all sound lovely, but is nature that powerful in helping mood?

Kuo (2015) completed a meta-analysis (a statistical examination of several different studies) and found that being in nature is effective not only at improving mood but also improving cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal issues… all at the same time.


So, quite clearly, being in nature doesn’t just feel good. It has significant, measurable effects on both your mental and physical health.

Not only that, but it's free, and it's all around us, for those who are fortunate enough to live in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

What are your favourite strategies for managing or improving mood?

Are there any strategies in this post you are tempted to try?

Join the conversation on Facebook!

Article by

Trevor Sullivan, MA, RP

Registered Psychotherapist

August 10, 2020