Coping With Stress And Anxiety
Learning what causes or triggers your stress and what coping techniques work for you can help reduce your anxiety and improve your daily life. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Here are some activities you can try when you start to feel overwhelmed:
- Keep a journal.
- Exercise, and make sure you are eating healthy, regular meals.
- Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
- Avoid drinking excess caffeine such as soft drinks or coffee.
- Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
- Reach out to your friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way.
Ways To Identify The Conditions
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, one place to start is to speak with your primary care doctor. They can do an initial screening and may look for medical conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms. You will likely then be referred to a mental health professional for an official clinical diagnosis.
The mental health professional will use the standard reference manual for diagnosing recognized mental illnesses in the United States, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition .
The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for depression and each anxiety disorder are different. A diagnosis might be harder to make when anxiety and depression overlap.
What You Should Do
Just because you’re experiencing one of those symptoms doesn’t mean you’ll be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression. “But if you’re too caught up in one feeling or another, having less pleasure in life or having trouble doing what you need to do, then certainly get help,” says Dr. Miller.
Reaching out to family and friends may be a good way to start the process. “Talk to people who might be understanding, compassionate, and helpful,” Dr. Miller says. If you feel embarrassed to share your feelings or worries with those close to you, make an appointment with your doctor.
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Develop An Action Plan For Anxiety And Depression
Your action plan for anxiety and depression will cover a wide range of options. The plan can include exercise, stress management and how to improve your sleep. You may be referred to a psychologist who can help you address things like negative thinking and how to manage difficulties in your relationships.
Some people think its weak to admit theyre going through a tough time, but if you have anxiety or depression, you cant just snap out of it or pull yourself together. Theres more to it than that.
If you think you may have anxiety or depression, and want to take action, start by talking to someone you trust keeping it to yourself can make things worse. Discuss your situation with a friend, partner, family member a colleague or your GP.
Beyond Blue has put together information about how men can create an action plan.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you or someone close to you is experiencing an emergency, or is at risk of immediate harm, call triple zero . To talk to someone now, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you have tried relaxation techniques and reaching out to someone you trust, but still feel overwhelmed, you can check in with your doctor or speak with a mental health professional.
Stress is not itself a diagnosis but rather a clue that something else is going on. Chronic stress could be a sign of depression, anxiety or a symptom of another mental health condition. GPs and psychologists are trained to know how to recognise when stress is a sign that you need extra support, so dont hesitate to reach out for advice.
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Take Care Of Yourself
- Be attentive to your feelings, emotions and reactions and allow yourself to voice them to someone you trust. Write them down or express them through physical or other types of activity.
- Make use of physical activity to let the stress out and eliminate tension.
- Practice healthy living habits like proper nutrition and sufficient sleep.
- Limit your access to stressors.
- Allow yourself lifes little pleasures such as listening to music, taking a warm bath, reading, etc.
- Remain in contact with people that do you good.
- Remind yourself of winning strategies you used in the past to get through difficult times.
- Count on your own strengths.
- Set limits for yourself, such as refusing a task that you do not want to do and that is non-essential.
- Learn to delegate and let others help you .
Social Isolation And Depression In Older Adults
Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new attention to this issue however, many Americans felt socially isolated and lonely before the pandemic. If youre feeling socially isolated or lonely, and you cannot see your friends and family in person for any reason, try reaching out over the phone or joining a virtual club. Find tips to help you stay more connected.
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Stressed Or Depressed Know The Difference
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, you are not alone it’s practically a fact of life on college campuses. A poll conducted by mtvU and the Associated Press in the spring of 2009 reported that 85% of students say they experience stress on a daily basis.
Stress is good if it motivates you but it’s bad if it wears you down. Many factors can contribute to the stress you experience, and this stress can cause changes in your body that affect your overall physical, mental, and emotional health.
Depression is more serious and long-lasting than stress, and requires a different kind of help. In a 2010 survey by the American College Health Association, 28% of college students reported feeling so depressed at some point they had trouble functioning, and 8% sought treatment for depression.
The good news is that depression is a highly treatable condition. However, it’s not something you can snap out of by yourself, so it’s important to get help. How do you tell the difference between stress and depression? Both can affect you in similar ways, but there are key differences. Symptoms of depression can be much more intense. They last at least two weeks. Depression causes powerful mood changes, such as painful sadness and despair. You may feel exhausted and unable to act.
Here are common signs of stress and depression. Which fits you best?
What Are The Treatments For Depression
Many helpful treatments for depression are available. Treatment for depression can help reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. Treatment can include getting therapy and/or taking medications. Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you determine what treatment is best for you.
- Therapy. Many people benefit from psychotherapyalso called therapy or counseling.7,8 Most therapy lasts for a short time and focuses on thoughts feelings and issues that are happening in your life now. In some cases understanding your past can help but finding ways to address what is happening in your life now can help you cope and prepare you for challenges in the future.With therapy, youll work with your therapist to learn skills to help you cope with life, change behaviors that are causing problems and find solutions. Do not feel shy or embarrassed about talking openly and honestly about your feelings and concerns. This is an important part of getting better.Some common goals of therapy include:
- Getting healthier
- Making sense of past painful events
- Identifying things that worsen your depression
- Having better relationships with family and friends
- Understanding why something bothers you and creating a plan to deal with it
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Seeing A Doctor About Depression
Big changes in your life, like bereavement, losing a job, or even having a baby, can cause symptoms of depression. You’re also more likely to experience depression if you have a family history of depression. However, it’s also possible to become depressed without there being an obvious reason.
You can learn more about depression causes here.
Depression And Older Adults
Feeling down every once in a while is a normal part of life, but if these feelings last a few weeks or months, you may have depression. Read this article to find common signs and symptoms of depression, treatment options, and if you or your loved one may be at risk for depression.
On this page:
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Different Types Of Depression
There are different types of depression, and there are some conditions where depression is a symptom. These conditions include:
- Bipolar disorder people with bipolar disorder, which is also known as “manic depression”, experience times of depression, where the symptoms are similar to clinical depression. They also go through phases when they have excessively high moods . Bouts of mania can include harmful behaviour like unsafe sex, spending sprees and gambling.
- Seasonal affective disorder is also called “winter depression”. It’s depression that is related to weather, usually winter, so it happens seasonally.
- Postnatal depression happens to some women after they’ve had a baby. It’s treated similarly to other types of depression, with antidepressant medication and talking therapy.
Learn more about how depression is diagnosed here.
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.
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Symptoms And Causes Of Depression
Symptoms of depression can be very different from person to person. However, as a general rule, if you are depressed you feel hopeless, sad and lacking interest in things that used to make you feel happy.
Depression symptoms are bad enough to interfere with work, social life and family life, and can persist for weeks or months.
Doctors describe depression in one of three ways, depending on how serious it is:
- mild depression it has some impact on daily life
- moderate depression it has a significant impact on your daily life
- severe depression this makes it nearly impossible to get through your life day to day
A few people with severe depression may have symptoms of psychotic depression.
Below is a list of depression symptoms it’s unlikely that one person would have all of them.
Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The defining feature of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least six months. The intensity of the anxiety or worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event or events.Other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include the following:
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Psychosomatic symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, pins and needles
- Physical symptoms: Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain
- The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning
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Supporting Friends And Family With Depression
Depression is a medical condition that requires treatment from a doctor. While family and friends can help by offering support in finding treatment, they cannot treat a persons depression.
As a friend or family member of a person with depression, here are a few things you can do:
- Encourage the person to seek medical treatment and stick with the treatment plan the doctor prescribes.
- Help set up medical appointments or accompany the person to the doctors office or a support group.
- Participate in activities the person likes to do.
- Ask if the person wants to go for a walk or a bike ride. Physical activity can be great for boosting mood.
Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders
The two main treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy and medication, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.
- Psychotherapy: Talk therapy is effective in helping people identify, process, and cope with their triggers of anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective, short-term treatment that helps people learn specific skills to target their specific triggers.
- Medication: Antidepressants generally have some mild side effects but help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can be used for an extended period of time. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that can also be used on an ongoing basis. Benzodiazepines can be used on a limited basis to mitigate anxiety symptoms, but they can be habit-forming. All medications should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider. Any side effects should be reported immediately. Never discontinue the use of these medications without supervision from your healthcare provider.
- Lifestyle changes: There are several changes you can make at home before you try medications. Daily exercise, good sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are all home remedies that can decrease symptoms of anxiety.
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What Are The Signs Of Stress
How you might feel
If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.
Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.
Behavioral Symptoms Of Stress
You might have come across a person who has been adversely affected by stress. How do they behave? Do you find something strange in them or in their behavior? Its not necessary that it happens with every person suffering from stress, but yeah these can be noticed and some of them. You will find them figuring out ways on managing their and healthy behaviors that might include:
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Appetite Changes And Weight Gain
Changes in appetite are common during times of stress.
When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself with no appetite at all or overeating without noticing.
One small 2006 study of 272 female college students found that 81 percent reported that they experienced changes in appetite when they were stressed out, with 62 percent stating they had an increase in appetite .
Changes in appetite may also cause fluctuations in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study involving 1,355 people in the United States found that stress was associated with weight gain in adults already living with extra weight .
A third study from 2017 found that individuals with higher cortisol and insulin levels and higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to gain weight in the future . However, the study was limited in the scope of research in that participants were predominantly white females.
While these studies show an association between stress and changes in appetite or weight, more studies are needed to understand other possible factors are involved and how stress impacts different people.
How Can I Prevent Stress
Its not always possible to prevent stress altogether life can be stressful. If you remember that some stress can be positive and motivating, you can aim to find the right balance between productive stress, and an unhelpful level of stress.
Making sure you have time to relax each day will also help prevent a build-up of tension in your body and your mind.
Daily exercise can have many benefits for your overall health and wellbeing, including reducing stress. Something as simple as going for a walk or taking part in a team sport can also improve your mental health, and help prevent feeling stressed.
Spend time learning what triggers your stress and try to understand why this is. Structured problem solving is another form of psychological therapy that can then help prevent your stress from escalating, as you identify ways to solve the problems that trigger your stress.
While preventing stress altogether may not be a realistic goal, you can go a long way towards managing your stress, by recognising what causes your stress and practicing a range of stress-reducing techniques that work for you, and seeking help before you feel overwhelmed.
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