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What To Do When Depression And Anxiety Mix
You’ve noticed some changes lately. Maybe you feel sad, hopeless, or donât get any joy out of activities that used to be fun. Sounds like depression, right?
Maybe that’s not all. Sometimes you’re worried, afraid, and just plain uneasy. Isn’t that a sign of anxiety?
Not so fast. Itâs normal to have ups and downs or to have things youâre concerned about. You might be going through a difficult time. Your doctor can help you figure out if itâs actually a condition and what would help.
If you have both conditions, there are lots of ways to get help.
You Often Feel Stuck In Vicious Loop
For me, anxiety isnt just worrying about everything that could go wrong its an obsession with all of the things that need to go right. However, having depression at the same time means Im often stuck. Im painfully aware of all of the things that could go wrong, desperate to make everything go right, and yet utterly helpless at making anything happen at all. Its a vicious, self-feeding cycle and sometimes its hard to tell which came first the anxiety or the depression. Nicole Starbuck, 29, an entrepreneur in Denver
Do Something You Have Control Over
Regaining some control in the moment could help overwhelming feelings feel a little easier to cope with.
You dont have to take any major action, but accomplishing a short task, such as making your bed, taking a shower, or unloading the dishwasher, can help boost a sense of accomplishment. It could also offer a temporary distraction.
What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis. You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard. There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service
You can find your local PALS details through this website link:
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What Are Anxiety Disorders
We all have feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes. These can be normal responses to certain situations. For example, you might worry about a job interview, or about paying a bill on time. These feelings can give you an awareness of risks and what you need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. This reaction is known as fight or flight.
Your brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. Once the threatening situation has stopped, your body will usually return to normal.
But if you have an anxiety disorder these feelings of fear and danger can be ongoing and interrupt your daily routine long after the threat has gone. They can make you feel as though things are worse than they actually are.
Everyones experience of anxiety disorders is different. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms.
Mental symptoms of anxiety can include:
- racing thoughts,
Anxiety can lead to depression if left untreated.
Allow Yourself To Feel What Youre Feeling
Depression and anxiety are medical conditions, not the result of failure or weakness, and theyre absolutely not your fault.
Without a doubt, the unwanted emotions they cause can lead to plenty of distress. But knowing depression and anxiety result from underlying causes and triggers, not anything you did or didnt do, can promote self-compassion instead of criticism or self-punishment.
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This Post Has 15 Comments
I dont personaly suffer from depression, but I know people who do.
If I were to post this article to them it would only aggravate the situation.
How does one present these behaviours to them in order to help them?
William, my name is Elizabeth and I have suffered from depression since childhood. All we as depression suffers need is to be understood, yes that is the most difficult part of all but strangely enough, as a depression sufferer its so much easier for me to identify with other people suffering with this illness because I know the signs and yes I understand the pain, agony, lack of self esteem, loneliness.The deep dark hole. I had a suicide attempt in 2012, not planned at all BUT I WAS SO TI RED OF BEING IN THIS VERY DEEP DARK HOLE OF ANXIETY, MOST TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE AND PAINFUL EVER AND PEOPLE ALWAYS USE TO SAY GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF..NO U CANT WITHOUT HELP. I GOT A SECOND CHANGE ON LIFE, STILL SUFFERING AND ON MEDS BUT ARE NOW ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH MEDICATION AND MOTIVATION OF PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND HOW SERIOUS THIS ILLNESS IS AND YES IT IS SERIOUS.
Thanks, but even suggesting they get professional advice leads to a further exhibition of some of these toxic behaviours. Or are you suggesting I should get professional advice on how to deal with this?
Questions To Ask Yourself
Again, its very common to feel low or sad, stressed or anxious, or any combination of the above, on occasion.
All the same, youre the best person to recognize whats typical for you. If you start to experience new, uncomfortable feelings, changes in your energy and motivation, or any other unusual symptoms, it never hurts to connect with a mental health professional for more guidance.
You might wonder whether an online self-test for anxiety or depression could offer more insight about the changes youve noticed. Some people do find these a helpful place to start but a more personalized route might involve asking yourself a few questions:
- Do I spend a lot more time worrying than I have in the past?
- Do I feel sad, empty, or hopeless often?
- Have I lost interest in the things I used to enjoy?
- Have I started to avoid spending time with friends and loved ones?
- Do I worry about things I cant control to the point where I have a hard time thinking about anything else?
- Do I become irritable or annoyed more quickly than I have in the past?
- Do I often feel restless, on edge, or unable to relax?
- Do I cycle through dark, unwanted, or fearful thoughts I cant seem to stop?
- Is it difficult to fall asleep, get enough sleep, or wake up on time most days?
- Have I noticed unexplained pain, tension, or other physical symptoms?
- Do these changes affect my daily life or relationships?
If you answered yes to most of the questions above, it may be time to reach out to a therapist.
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What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety Disorder
This section provides an overview of the most common types of anxiety disorders.
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder
GAD is common. The main symptom of GAD is over worrying about different activities and events. This may feel out of your control. You feel anxious a lot of the time if you have GAD. You might feel on edge and alert to your surroundings.
This can affect your day-to-day life. You might find that it affects your ability to work, travel places or leave the house. You might also get tired easily or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You might have physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and sweating.
It is common to have other conditions such as depression or other anxiety disorders if you have GAD.
GAD can be difficult to diagnose because it does not have some of the unique symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Your doctor is likely to say you have GAD if you have felt anxious for most days over six months and it has had a bad impact on areas of your life.
You will have regular panic attacks with no particular trigger if you have panic disorder. They can happen suddenly and feel intense and frightening. You may also worry about having another panic attack.
Panic disorder symptoms can include the following.
You may also dissociate during a panic attack. Such as feeling detached from yourself.
Social anxiety disorder
Some common situations where you may experience anxiety are the following.
How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed
If you think you have agoraphobia, and the anxiety is interfering with your daily life, you should talk to a primary care provider or psychiatrist. If you are afraid to visit a medical office in person, you may be able to schedule a telephone or video appointment.
The healthcare provider may ask you:
- Do you get stressed about leaving your house?
- Are there any places or situations you avoid because youre afraid? Why are you afraid?
- Do you rely on others to do your shopping and errands?
A healthcare provider can diagnose agoraphobia based on your symptoms, how often they happen and how severe they are. It is important to be open and honest with your healthcare providers. Your provider may diagnose agoraphobia if you meet specific standards developed by the American Psychiatric Association. To have a diagnosis of agoraphobia, a person must feel extreme fear or panic in at least two of the following situations:
- Using public transportation.
- Being in an open space.
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store.
- Standing in a line or being in a crowd.
- Being out of your home alone.
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The Relationship Between Fear And Anxiety
Its important to understand the relationship between fear and anxiety, especially if you have suffered from long-term or debilitating anxiety. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , anxiety results from avoiding core emotions and needs. We may feel fear, and instead of being able to express or move through it, we suppress our emotions related to it, and it leads to anxiety.
Anxiety as a result of pushed-down fear is usually related to our past experiences. Maybe we were unable to escape danger in some situations. Maybe we were shamed for our fear. For whatever reason we are unable to express our fear-related emotions, suppression becomes our coping response.
But we must find ways to eventually deal with our fear or else risk having it run rampant in our minds and bodies later. When suppression becomes a pattern, we become susceptible to experiencing high levels of anxiety on a regular basis. High levels of anxiety can eventually lead to a mental health crisis and erode our ability to think clearly and be optimistic about our reality. This is how anxiety can lead to depression.
What Is It Like To Have Depression And Anxiety
This is the first question I wish I could answer for people who dont live with either depression or anxiety. And certainly not both. To be clear, Im happy for those people. I wouldnt wish any mental wellness challenge for anyone. Those who dont understand, cant understand because havent had to deal with it. For that for them I am happy.
That doesnt change the fact that I would love for them to be able to understand. If we were all more capable of understanding what others feel and experience, we would all be more capable of compassion and empathy.
And I find myself writing, at midnight on a Friday night, because of some of the very things that come along with depression and anxiety. Something trivial, silly, not worth getting upset about is keeping me up. This thing, when looked at with a logical mind, shouldnt cause these feelings. But it will, nonetheless, likely cost me a full nights sleep.
So here goes
How on earth is it possible to have both depression and anxiety? How can two things that seem so different coexist and create such havoc? Im afraid theres not a simple answer. Instead, maybe there is a way to explain what it feels like. Can this allow those who dont understand, but want to, a chance to step into someone elses shoes?
Its all clear now, right? Probably not. But if you feel this way or have felt this way, know youre not alone even though you feel lonely.
- 8100 E Arapahoe Rd, Suite 303, Centennial CO
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Are There Clinical Trials Studying Social Anxiety Disorder
NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding social anxiety disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
The Role And Impact Of Fear
We are always exposed to situations that cause us to be afraid: shootings, crime sprees, tragedies in war-torn areas, natural disasters, wildfires, political tensions, a life-threatening pandemic. Just about anything can cause us to become entrenched in fear and pessimistic about the future. For those who experience these situations firsthand, acute mental distress is often the result. For instance, a PLOS Medicine study showed that asylum seekers and refugees experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
But you dont have to be involved in frightening or life-threatening events to experience distress from them. Simply hearing or reading about them may be enough to generate fear. Our increased exposure to everything can impair our mental state if we arent careful. But what if fear itself isnt actually the problem?
An interview with The Meadows Chief Medical Officer Jon Caldwell, MD, on our Beyond Theory podcast discusses the role and impact of fear:
Fear has this evolutionary function where it helps to alert us of possible dangers in our environment. Its a very potent emotion, says Dr. Caldwell. What Ive found really interesting is the way that fear can sometimes run amuck and really have a strong presence in our lives, to the point where it can control us.
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What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.
There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online.
Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:
Or you can call the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service on 0300 5000 927 for more information.
You can find more information about Recovery by clicking here.