Anxiety and depression are terms that we hear spoken about from time to time. Yet not many of us take the initiative to dig deep and learn why around 40 million adults aged 18 and older in the United States are affected by anxiety and depression. Chances are at least one of your friends is suffering from it, and you are in the ideal position to help. Read this article for an in-depth analysis of this issue that is highly prevalent in our society.
Contrary to common perception, anxiety disorder and depression are easily treatable once proper medication and counseling are provided. However, there is a tendency for people to delay seeking help, partly because they don’t realize what it is. There is also general disbelief in the effectiveness of medication for a cure. As the nature of this issue is complicated and greatly varies between different personalities, there is no single cure. Let’s take a look at what really causes anxiety and depression and how they can be deeply linked.
Causes of Anxiety and Depression
While anxiety and depression might seem to be opposite poles of a hypothetical disease, they are more connected than they can appear. Ranging from the causes to the symptoms, and finally the treatments, similarities are manifold. Before diving into that, it is important to understand the causes of anxiety and depression.
It is believed by professionals that the brain of a person suffering from anxiety is in constant fight-or-flight mode. This means the person feels a sustained sense of alertness at all times, even when nowhere near any danger. We experience moments of anxiety in our daily lives due to various reasons, and this is perfectly normal as long as it does not persist. Prolonged feelings of anxiety and/or depression should never be taken lightly, and the most effective form of treatment is getting the help of a therapist.
Depression has its own list of symptoms. Factors like the surrounding environment, genetic aspects, and biological and mental states are all contributing elements. The constant reality checks people face upon entering adulthood act as catalysts in this process. Pent-up anger, lack of hope, and diminishing returns on efforts compared to past times all provide fuel to the situation. These feelings overwhelm the mind and can cause lasting effects, leading to chronic depression.
Difference Between Anxiety And Depression
Mental health researchers believe the factors leading to anxiety and depression are similar in nature. Most people experiencing anxiety disorder also suffer from depression, and the opposite is true as well. The causes and consequences of one pave the way for the other. A depressed person will continually worry about the circumstances causing their depression, which results in a build-up of anxiety in the mind. This is not a sudden occurrence, making it even more difficult to recognize it and seek help.
Clearly, the environment also plays a major part here. A person exposed to brutality will develop a mindset that defends him or her from the exposure. This would mean staying alert at all times and losing all forms of faith and hope—all leading to anxiety disorder and chronic depression. It is clear that these disorders can coexist in a human being, and the reasons are also similar. We suggest you take a look at some of the significant symptoms mentioned in the next section.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Signs of anxiety and depression can be sensed from behavioral traits. Physical symptoms are also prevalent and noticeable, although difficult to separate from some other common illnesses. Poor fitness levels, lack of exercise, and low interest in strenuous activities are all contributors to this issue. Some of the most common symptoms are listed below.
- Constant irritation and alertness of the mind
- Sense of hopelessness and failure
- Nervousness in the easiest of situations
- Illogical fears
- Constant tension on matters not requiring strenuous thought
- Low energy levels
- Unable to calm down, take a moment, and enjoy the surroundings
- Lack of motivation for almost anything
- Long hours of procrastination
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inconsistent eating habits
- No particular passion or hobby
- Lack of interest, potentially leading to personal and professional failure
- Profuse sweating
- Persistent pain in the abdomen
- Chronic headaches and eventual vision issues
- Overworking the heart due to rapid heartbeat
- Breathing difficulties
This list barely includes the prime symptoms of anxiety disorder and chronic depression. However, in reality, a person can show none of these symptoms and still be affected. Hence, it is always recommended to consult a therapist or doctor in these situations. This is the best way to receive proper treatment, depending on the patient and his or her needs.
Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
While there is a wide array of treatments for anxiety and depression, we have split them into two categories: short-term self-treatments and long-term medical treatments. We believe a patient must attempt the short-term route initially, as these methods often lead to successful results before the need arises for a long-term medication pathway.
Mental health professionals suggest the very first action to take while in the grips of anxiety and depression is to breathe! This maintains a steady supply of oxygen to the brain and goes a long way in calming the person down. Techniques for relaxation can be adopted and practiced regularly. Various forms of meditation are solely designed to produce calming effects in the mind for sustained periods.
Exercising, although being the polar opposite of meditation, is also an established path toward a life free of anxiety and depression. A regular schedule of exercise ensures the release of chemicals in the body that intensify the feeling of pleasure and joy. This diverts the mind from all the worrying thoughts, negativity, and fears that lead to these disorders in the first place.
Finally, patients themselves can take measures in changing their regular activities that potentially contribute to the disorders. Setting goals, both short-term and long-term, no matter the nature of them, can keep the mind occupied and focused. Getting your life organized by completing pending tasks, maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, eating healthy food at optimum amounts, and developing an overall sense of good citizenship can all work wonders in the fight against anxiety and depression.
Long-Term Medical Treatments
Although procedures like meditation and exercise are continuous efforts and might seem like long-term solutions, they do not involve any medication. Modern science has developed multiple remedies for anxiety and depression, which are only authorized by medical professionals upon examining the patient and understanding the condition. Patients may suffer from various medical problems which might cause adverse effects upon coming into contact with medicines for anxiety and depression. Doctors also need a comprehensive knowledge of any supplements the patient might be taking.
Antidepressant medications are frequently prescribed by mental health specialists and have been known to completely cure patients of anxiety and depression in the long run. Newer versions of these medicines are reducing the side effects patients feel after consumption. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most widely prescribed antidepressant medicines right now.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are also very efficient in tackling these issues. Professionals spend hours with patients in sessions trying to access the depths of their minds and removing the problem from its root. Patients are taught the methods to gradually release the pent-up fear, anger, and hopelessness in their minds. They are taught to completely control their thought processes.
Almost everyone can relate to experiencing some form of anxiety and/or depression at least once. While this shows the pervasive nature of this problem, not many of us consider it a debilitating problem until excruciating levels are reached. This general perception needs a change, as it is quite clear that the treatments for these disorders are very effective. Ranging from self-treatments to medical remedies, help is readily available, depending on the patient.
Nothing beats an organized life. A key factor behind good health is a life free of unnecessary worry. Problems of this sort require superior personal effort rather than medical help in most cases. This personal aid can be done either by oneself or by a professional therapist. However, all that can wait! We suggest if you are feeling depressed and/or anxious, leave everything behind and go on a nature retreat for a week. Read a book. Watch a movie. The options are countless. It is just a matter of taking that first step.