About Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety is a mood disorder characterized by excessive physical tension and negative thinking. Physical symptoms include muscular aches and pains, trouble sleeping, restlessness, and a tendency to go over and over a problem/situation. The thoughts tend to be fearful, often leading to avoidance of the trigger.
An anxious person tends to imagine the worst: “What if…..” It is common to eventually become anxious about becoming anxious, and to therefore feel trapped in patterned, self-fulfilling thinking and behavior.
Anxiety disorders include social anxiety (formerly known as shyness), obsessive-compulsive disorder (unsuccessful repetitive attempts to quiet the nerves through specific behaviors), post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, acute stress disorder, panic disorder (characterized by a racing heart and sense of doom), and generalized anxiety (a free-floating sense of fear). Substances (i.e.,excessive intake of caffeine) and underlying medical conditions can create anxiety.
Specific situations are also known to bring on anxiety in most people (i.e. starting a new job, a terrible boss, losing a job, losing social support). Some anxiety is part of the human condition. Our brains are wired to anticipate danger. Perhaps we stood up too soon, way, way back, and actually saw the lions coming to eat us. There are no lions now. We create our own fear – by imagining the worst. In the process, we flood our bodies with stress hormones that only increase unless we find a way to intervene on our own behalf.
The best step to take is to meet with an experienced psychotherapist/behavioral health provider. These professionals are trained to listen carefully to your individual story and to support you while you learn new ways of thinking and behaving. It is important to work with someone you trust and like, and to commit to following the recommendations. Medication may be necessary to rebalance your nervous system. The most helpful treatment is sometimes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Depression is a mood disorder that often manifests physically, behaviorally and cognitively. Headaches, disrupted or excessive sleep, stomach problems, excessive crying, change in appetite, and loss of interest in activities are common physical/behavioral symptoms. Cognitive symptoms include recurrent and intrusive negative thoughts, often connected to a sense of inadequacy, failure or guilt. Feelings can include sadness, irritability, fatigue and anger.
Depression is frequently triggered by adverse life circumstances, including work-related stress, trauma, relationship problems, job insecurity, change in life circumstances, loss of social connection, loss of a loved one, and other, underlying, medical problems.
More women than men are diagnosed with depression, perhaps because women seek help more often than do men. Men may more often display depression through irritability and aggression. They are socially conditioned to go it alone. Women often display through tearfulness and fatigue. Social withdrawal is a common symptom for both.
Depression leads to difficulty in concentration, which can produce anxiety about performance in life areas, such as work. Thus, anxiety and depression are co-related. Sometimes people turn to alcohol, drugs, food and/or cutting to try to feel better. These choices unfortunately exacerbate the problem. All lead to addictive behaviors and further depress the nervous system.
Depression can rapidly become life-threatening. If you are thinking about ending your life or taking the lives of others you must call 911. Dark thoughts creep up on most of us at times. They are serious warnings to get immediate help.
Early intervention – long before you imagine ending it all - is best. You may want to start with your insurance’s behavioral health provider list. These Social Workers and Psychologists are trained to recognize your needs and to help you meet them in a healthy way. The process is often called Talk Therapy because treatment sessions revolve around a confidential conversation about your feelings. Psychiatrists are primarily trained to provide medication.
You may need both Talk Therapy and medication, or only Talk Therapy. An understanding and well-trained professional will help you lift your mood if you commit to attending sessions and following their recommendations. Research has shown that the most important factor in your treatment is your sense of being understood and helped. If you do not feel connection with one provider, try another.
Your life matters.