Anxiety and depression have a funny way of playing tricks on you. It can make you feel like you’re alone, even while standing in a sea of faces.
The transition between a few sad days and headaches, to months of clinical depression and migraines, can go largely undetected.
Especially, when you throw in other symptoms associated with anxiety.
Mental health disorders are constantly stigmatized in the media. Whether we realize it or not, we internalize these negative views about feelings of anxiety and depression.
Overtime, harboring those negative thoughts harm our ability to cope with others and ourselves when we go through times of deep sadness and crippling anxiety.
The goal today is simple. I’m not hoping to solve all your sad days or calm all your fears in a blog post. I am a realist. Topics as big as mental health take time and patience to fully flesh out.
Today’s post is about empowering you. The more you know about anxiety and depression, the better equipped you’ll be to help others and yourself.
Let’s start with clearing up some of the basics about anxiety and depression. I’ll be using my trusty copy of the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in order to guide us today. For those of you who don’t know, the DSM V is pretty much the Mental Health Professional Bible. Without further ado…
Life can get tough. We go through moments that can seem like the highest highs only to be abruptly interrupted by unexpected tragedy and emotional pain.
But there’s something different when it comes to depression. The sadness persists. It
overpowers and overwhelms you.
Many of us know just how pervasive and all-consuming anxiety can feel. It’s as your brain is constantly on high alert. Looking for the next shoe to drop. Obsessive about anticipating future traumatic events.
The symptoms for anxiety and depression can be overwhelming.
I find the easiest ways to get my clients to remember the differences is to relate it to popular TV shows. For the kids, and the kids at heart, I use the lovable cast from Winnie the Pooh.
Remember Pooh’s adorable and fearful friend Piglet? Classic case of generalized anxiety
disorder. Eeyore, the perpetually blue donkey with his own special rain cloud? Clearly, he's battling depression.
Check out the chart above. You’ll notice that depression and anxiety share symptoms. However, did you know that you could be battling both anxiety and depression at the same time? It’s actually quite common.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are 40 million adults in the US coping with an anxiety disorder. Almost one-half of US citizens diagnosed with depression are simultaneously battling an anxiety disorder.
Simply put, EVERYONE is affected by anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s time to start talking about them!
We tend to put mental illnesses like anxiety and depression into big black scary boxes. Today’s the day to start unpacking the differences; starting with the different types of depression and anxiety.
Clearly depression can come in many forms. Major depression is the classic state of depression we often seen portrayed in TV’s and movies.
Many fans of Netflix’s hit show Shameless were captivated by Cameron Monaghan’s jaw
dropping performance as a teenager coping with bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder is usually accompanied by Major Depressive Episodes.
Anxiety also has several forms.
Do have a friend who’s absolutely terrified of spiders? Phobias are a very common form of anxiety.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is more than being a classic clean freak. It’s a vicious cycle of obsessing about cleaning, getting anxious about cleaning, compulsively cleaning, obsessing about cleaning, getting anxious about cleaning, compulsively cleaning, obsessing about … you get the picture.
There are things you can start doing today, in fact right at this very minute, in order to counteract the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
I love this list because it gives you simple steps to radically change your perspective in healthy ways.
Guess what? Depression and anxiety are not your fault. They are no-one's fault. Depression and anxiety are simply medical conditions. You are not a bad person for wanting to seek help and gain understanding. Practice self-acceptance because you deserve it.
Look for opportunities to gain control of your life and your decisions. It can be as simple as deciding to clean up, and take out the trash, or perhaps focusing on self-care and brushing your teeth. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can take notes and then over time reflect on your progress. Small wins have a way of changing our perceptions for the better.
Depression and anxiety can be debilitating. They can cause us to drop balls and fail to show up as our best selves. To begin to dismantle the effects of depression and anxiety, commit to a sleep schedule. Your goal should be to sleep for between 7 and 8 hours per night. Also try to physically exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, and increase over time if you are physically able to do so. Exercise will help you to sleep, and will help to structure your day.
Unless you are careful, the stress of trying to get "back to normal", and leaving depression or anxiety behind, can itself, exacerbate symptoms. Force yourself to take a chill pill, by engaging in self-care activities like yoga, regular warm baths, a good book and meditation.
Please, avoid the trap of depending on unhealthy coping methods. Self-medicating with drugs, binge-eating or alcohol only temporarily numb your symptoms while reinforcing a dangerous cycle of dependence.
But what if these tips aren’t enough? When will you know if it’s time to speak with a therapist about your situation?
Everyone has a few “off” days where we can’t peel ourselves out of bed. Emotional highs and lows are all a part of the vibrant colors that make up our life experiences.
But when a few “off” days turn into two or more weeks of unmanageable symptoms, it may be time to make an appointment. If you begin having suicidal thoughts or behaviors, then now is the time to seek immediate medical assistance.
But the good thing is, even at our lowest, we are never alone.
How did it feel reading about those symptoms? Did you identify with some of the ones we covered? Are there things you’re currently feeling that we didn’t talk about?
Mental health can be tricky to decipher. You can currently be experiencing anxiety and depression and not have all of the symptoms we covered today. That’s why, if you’re unsure, it does not hurt to make an appointment to chat with a licensed clinical therapist.
With my clients, we start off by spending two hours together just so I can gather as much information as possible about you and your story. Then, together we embark on a journey of deconstructing the core issues fueling your depression and anxiety.
That's it for now. Contact me straight away if I can be of assistance to you. I'm just a phone call or email, away.