Anxiety and depression have become the most common mental health conditions in our modern society, with people experiencing symptoms ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Anxiety and depression are a real threat to our peace. What is most concerning is that thoughts of seeing a psychotherapist to tackle anxiety and depression can trigger fears around the potential stigma of accessing mental health support. Therefore, people often struggle through, only finally seeking help when anxiety and depression become severe. For my experience over the years, I’ve seen many people struggling with anxiety and depression. Accepting that they need help, and seeing a therapist is hard to cope with. (Future blogs will cover “What they think about you, what you think they think of you, and what’s the truth”).
How anxiety and depression start and where they can lead
Everyone experiences anxiety. It is in our DNA: we are born with it. If we don’t have a bit of anxiety, we won’t know how to protect ourselves from danger. For example, if you are driving and the car in front of you suddenly breaks, you immediately react to maintain an adequate distance between you and the other vehicle. Your anxiety is a warning that you are in danger. And that’s healthy anxiety.
But let’s talk about the anxiety that is caused by our environment. We are a product of our environment influenced by the things around us. This process began in childhood with how we were brought up. People develop anxiety in different ways, and sometimes you might not even be aware that it is anxiety. For example, being out of your comfort zone could be meeting new people. It could also mean overthinking, financial concerns, work-related, pressure from social media, sleepless nights, racing thoughts, the impact of trauma (sexual, emotional, mental, physical abuse), etc. Anxiety can also be physical; fast heartbeats, chest pain, sweating, stomach burn and feeling sick, feeling dehydrated, irritated skin, losing appetite, etc. Both anxiety and depression affect your well-being mentally, emotionally, and physically. And both commonly occur together.
Depression, too, can be mild, moderate to severe, and can be experienced in different ways. I believe we all go through depression at least once in a lifetime. If you lost a loved one, that is likely to be a huge source of pain, and life may not seem right anymore. It maybe could be your lowest point, especially if you do not have support. And sometimes it takes years to recover fully. Depression is a mental, emotional, and physical condition: But for many, the most significant aspect of depression is the emotional state, which can include low mood, feeling helpless, lacking energy, and finding it hard to stay positive, guilt, losing interest in things you used to like/love, feeling worthless, feeling suicidal, etc. Physically, you could be exhausted, imbalanced weight, body pain, insomnia or other sleep issues, headaches, feeling sick, discomfort, etc.
It is important to understand your anxiety and depression and how it is affecting your well-being. Anxiety and depression both respond well to similar treatments, including psychotherapy, medication, mindfulness, etc.
Why shouldn’t you ignore the early signs?
Not every day is the same. Some days we are more happy, expressive, lively, focused, positive. Some other days, we feel less energetic, and even the complete opposite of those more positive times. Current circumstances play a massive role in the way how we feel and think and react. Why is it crucial to observe your behaviour changing? If worrying and low moods become a habit, you probably would think, “I haven’t been myself recently, that’s all”. But actually, that’s not the case! Your anxiety and depression lie underneath and are signalling you for help. If those signs are ignored, the tension of anxiety and depression will grow into another level. People in this state blame others and can remain stuck in the past, feeling worthless and a failure. In this state of denial, it can be hard to accept that psychotherapy may help. Someone may well say: “I don’t need help or don’t tell me what to do”. This explains how the body’s alerts are ignored.
The big question is, where does all this lead to?
Addiction can seem to offer a sense of freedom. People with anxiety and depression may develop a relationship with drugs and alcohol, or other addictions. It is an escape that numbs the emotions and stops the racing thoughts. If you struggle with addition of any sort, seek professional help. Your GP, a psychotherapist, charity organizations can all provide helpful support and guidance. Family and friends may also be helpful. Anxiety, depression, and addiction often come from some form of trauma. If you’ve witnessed a traumatic event, or experienced trauma in relationships you may find yourself struggling with anxiety, depression and / or addiction. These subjects link with each-other. Unprocessed emotions impact our well-being. This is something I will explore further in a future blog.
How can I ask for help?
Asking for help is the most significant step. As I mentioned above, professional help is available. I strongly encourage you to step into positive change with your head high because you are saying yes to integrity, your well-being, and self-love. The question is, how can you ask for help? I know you maybe have been thinking this many times. It’s likely different emotions and thoughts have tried to discourage you from asking for help. Yet asking for help is about the positive change. Consider the big difference is going to make in your life. Allow yourself to talk yourself through what it is you really want and need. There is no better conversation than self-talk! Take a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say out loud that you deserve an abundance of joy, strength, love. Say “I am worthy, and we will get this through together”. Repeat this a few times until you feel comfortable with the idea. Building a relationship with yourself is fundamentally important (as we’ll see in a future blog on Cultivating a Compassionate Mind). Now, I’m sure you have someone in your mind who CAN help you. Maybe your GP, a psychotherapist, or perhaps someone you trust and ask for some advice? It’s important to seek help from a qualified professional. Someone you feel you could trust (I will talk about in the future how to find the right therapist for you). Once you make the first move, it will become easier for you as you experience help and begin to understand that you’ve made the right choice.
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