How To Deal With Stress Anxiety And Depression
STRESS, ANXIETY, and DEPRESSION, when we count the first letter in these words, we get the word SAD. That itself denotes, that these 3 words are related to some bad/ low/ negative state of mind. The moment we switch on the TV or open the newspaper, we see the SUICIDE of some celebrity, a famous personality, a student, or just a common man making the HEADLINES.
The word SAD emits some negativity. This shows, there is something very serious that is left unattended. That needs to be fixed. STRESS, ANXIETY, and DEPRESSION, though used interchangeably, are they one and same?? NO!!
STRESS, ANXIETY, and DEPRESSION are 3 different states of mind that are interdependent and can come as a package deal. Too much of STRESS can lead to ANXIETY. Exposure to ANXIETY for a longer period will get a person into a NEGATIVE / SAD state of mind. That is DEPRESSION. Its like a vicious cycle.
STRESS > ANXIETY > DEPRESSION > STRESS > ANXIETY > DEPRESSION .and so on!!
Can Stress Be Positive
Research has shown that stress can sometimes be positive. It can make you more alert and help you perform better in certain situations.2 However, stress has only been found to be beneficial if it is short-lived.
Excessive or prolonged stress can contribute to illness such as heart disease3 and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.4
What You Eat And Drink Can Also Affect How You Feel
Theres no magic diet that will treat depression. But what you put into your body can have a real and significant impact on the way you feel.
Eating a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains may be a great place to start. Try to limit stimulants like caffeine, coffee, and soda, and depressants like alcohol.
Some people also and have more energy when they avoid sugar, preservatives, and processed foods.
If you have the means, consider meeting with a doctor or registered dietitian for guidance.
Follow Your Old Routine
Make sure that you quickly fall back into your old routine, this includes sleeping and waking up at the same time you used to before. Also having food and going out the day as you used to. This will help you adjust quickly and make the new place seem less foreign, which will surely help with dealing with your moving anxiety and depression. You need to ensure that while unpacking you do other things also rather than just unpack for a week. Unpacking can get quite overwhelming in the beginning.
Recognising Your Stress Triggers
If you’re not sure what’s causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.
Things you might want to write down include:
- the date, time and place of a stressful episode
- what you were doing
- a stress rating
You can use the diary to:
- work out what triggers your stress
- work out how you operate under pressure
- develop better coping mechanisms
Doctors sometimes recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose stress.
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Ways Of Coping That Dont Work In The Long Term
Some of our attempts to cope with trauma, changes and stresses help us in the short them but can make things worse in the long term. Most of us know for ourselves what these things are. They include:
- Self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.
- Working all hours.
- Avoiding whnau, friends and stressful situations.
- Stopping physical exercise.
“At first, alcohol eased my anxiety in social situations but as time went on this changed. Alcohol was a slow corrosive, gradually stripping me of my ability to cope with life. Id spend days in bed, feeling depressed and wanting to die.Paul
How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
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Is It Anxiety Or Depression
If you often feel anxious or depressed for no apparent reason, you may have an anxiety disorder, depression, or both. Its not unusual for someone to suffer from both conditions at the same time. In fact, just about half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Depression and anxiety are serious but treatable illnesses. The same medications may be used to ease symptoms of each condition. The two also share similar symptoms, like nervousness, irritability, insomnia and problems concentrating, but each has its own causes.
Anxiety: If you have an anxiety disorder, you may experience:
- Fear, panic or anxiety in situations where most people would not feel anxious or threatened
- A constant nagging worry or anxiousness
- Sudden panic or anxiety attacks without any clear trigger
Untreated, these disorders can limit your ability to work, maintain relationships or even leave the house.
Depression: When youre depressed, it affects just about everything in your life how you think, feel, behave and function. You may experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Lack of motivation or interest in life in general
- Low energy level
- Feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks and personal interactions
If these feelings last longer than two weeks, and interfere with daily activities like spending time with friends, caring for your family or going to work, most likely youre experiencing a major depressive episode.
College Student Mental Health And Usage Of Mental Health Services Before Covid
College student mental health has long been studied in education, psychology, and medicine even before the pandemic. The general consensus of the literature is that college student mental health is in crisis, worsening in number and severity over time. Before the pandemic in the academic year of 2020, more than one-third of college students across the country were diagnosed by mental health professionals for having at least one mental health symptom . Anxiety and depression were most frequently diagnosed. The proportion of students with mental health problems is on the rise as well. Between 2009 and 2015, the proportion of students with anxiety or depression increased by 5.9% and 3.2%, respectively . Similarly, between 2012 and 2020, scores for depression, general anxiety, and social anxiety have constantly increased among those who visited counseling centers on college campuses .
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Te Taha Whnau Spend Time With Other People
Connecting with people can help you feel better faster. Sometimes it helps to plan your social contacts ahead of time, and to go even if you dont feel like it on the day:
- Meet up with a friend for a coffee.
- Help out at the local community centre or marae.
- Join a local group or a club.
- Go to family or whnau birthdays, anniversaries and get-togethers.
- Spend more time with the children and mokopuna.
- Join an online forum or chat group.
“What helps the most are people who accept it, listen to me and support me. My partner and family who are always there for me, no matter what. They give me hope and push me to keep fighting.Angela
Te Taha Tinana Look After Your Physical Wellbeing
There are lots of ways you can look after your physical wellbeing:
- Go to a park, the beach or the bush to absorb the peacefulness and fresh air.
- Do something physical, like going for a walk, a run or a swim.
- Get your hands dirty in the garden.
- Get regular sleep.
- Cut back on alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Eat healthy meals.
“I cant wait to go have some exercise to know how good Ill feel afterwards.Vesna
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Keep Your Mind Peaceful
Just as its important to keep yourself healthy physically, its also important to do so mentally. Relaxation techniques and mind-body activities such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help you relax, focus, and develop new perspectives. Like exercise, mind-body activities have been shown to have immediate benefits. Another way to relieve stress fast is by finding your happy place by doing something you enjoy, whether its reading, spending time on a hobby, or relaxing in a bathtub.
Smoking Drinking And Drug Use And Stress
You might find that you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to reduce stress. However, this often makes problems worse.28
Research shows that smoking may increase feelings of anxiety.29 Nicotine creates an immediate, temporary, sense of relaxation, which can then lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Similarly, you may use alcohol as a means to manage and cope with difficult feelings, and to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol may make existing mental health problems worse. It can make you feel more anxious and depressed in the long run.30 It is important to know the recommended limits31 and drink responsibly.
Prescription drugs, such as tranquillisers and sleeping tablets, which may have been prescribed for very good reasons, can also cause mental and physical health problems if used for long periods of time.32 Street drugs, such as cannabis or ecstasy, are usually taken for recreational purposes. For some people, problems start as their bodies get used to repeated use of the drug. This leads to the need for increased doses to maintain the same effect.33
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How Can We Handle Stress In Healthy Ways
Stress serves an important purposeit enables us to respond quickly to threats and avoid danger. However, lengthy exposure to stress may lead to mental health difficulties or increased physical health problems. A large body of research suggests that increased stress levels interfere with your ability to deal with physical illness. While no one can avoid all stress, you can work to handle it in healthy ways that increase your potential to recover.
There are several other methods you can use to relax or reduce stress, including:
Stay Connected And Talk To Someone
Human interaction is essential to all people, and having a conversation with someone you trust is a natural stress reliever. So reach out to your friends and family to catch up and get some bonding time, unless they happen to be the sources of your stress. You can also get this crucial person-to-person interaction by building new relationships. Volunteering, signing up for a new class, and joining a club are all great avenues to make new connections. You may also find it useful to talk with a physician or professional therapist. Healthcare professionals can help you find healthier ways to cope with your stress, help you find solutions, and add perspective. Under the Affordable Care Act, almost all health insurance plans must cover mental health services as an essential benefit. Compare plans on HealthSherpa to see which ones have the best mental health coverage.
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Coping With Stress Anxiety And Depression
By Kimberly Moran, PsyD, HSPP Licensed Clinical Psychologist
We are all susceptible to stress, anxiety and depression, especially when we encounter a global pandemic. COVID-19 has taken away our ability to control many things in our liveslike where we can go, how we work, how we go to school and even how we socialize.
Sometimes, a little anxiety is what motivates us to get to work on time or study for a big test. But if that stress or anxiety gets too high, then it starts to affect us in a negative way. Its important to know the signs of high levels of stress, anxiety or depression in yourself. It isnt so much about avoiding these feelings, but more about having a plan to try and prevent them.
When youre experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, it can be helpful to take control of yourself. Self-care is a significant part of dealing with your feelings. Its important to be nice to your bodystay hydrated, eat healthy, get plenty of rest and keep your body moving. It can be as simple as doing something that really brings you joy. Sometimes, taking part in something we enjoy is the first thing we stop when we are feeling down.
Emotions can be like a game of Whac-a-moleif you continue to suppress your feelings, they may pop up somewhere else. This can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety or depression, which in turn, can lead to lack of sleep, headaches, fatigue and other physical symptoms.
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Dont Suffer In Silence
Get support, whether from family, friends, your academic advisor, campus counseling center, or a trusted online community. A heart-to-heart talk with someone you trust can help you get rid of toxic feelings and may even give you a fresh perspective.
If these steps dont bring relief, or if you are still unable to cope and feel as if the stress is affecting how you function every day, it could be something more acute and chroniclike depression. Dont let it go unchecked!
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Spend Time With Friends And Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called tend and befriend, and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response .
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety .
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Its hard to feel anxious when youre laughing. Its good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
One way to do this may be to say no more often.
Lead With Behavior To Move Through Difficult Moods And Emotions
If I think the most important thing in life is a feeling of interior peace, I will be all the more disturbed when I notice that I do not have it. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
When were feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, our automatic response is usually to try to make ourselves feel better. It seems reasonablewhy suffer if we can avoid it? So we listen to music to cheer ourselves up, take some deep breaths to try to soothe our nerves, or try to figure out why we feel like this.
Unfortunately, these efforts often backfire, as I recently discussed with fellow CBT psychologist and Psychology Today blogger Joel Minden. Weve all had experiences where we think we can do something to make ourselves feel better, said Minden, and it doesnt work in that moment.
The result can be worse than simply not finding relief. It can be really frustrating and defeating when people work so hard to try to change their emotions, Minden said, if theyre just not able to do that very effectively. We can end up believing that we dont have coping strategies, or that we cant deal with difficult emotions, or that were stuck and theres no way out of it.
A Better Way
Ive often heard people suggest that action-focused approaches are unrealistic, and that psychologists dont understand what its like to deal with anxiety or depression. But Minden and I both find that the practices we offer to others are just as helpfuland necessaryfor ourselves.
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