If I were to ask you to name the two most common mental health problems afflicting people today, you probably would say anxiety and depression. And yet, even though they are the most talked about, it can sometimes be a struggle to figure out the difference between the two. The reason being, many people and some estimates show as much as 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression and roughly the same amount of those with depression also experience anxiety.
Because anxiety and depression have many overlapping symptoms (for example, problems with sleep can be seen in both generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder) getting an accurate diagnosis in order to treat the correct condition is vitally important. And especially so if the individual is experiencing both of them simultaneously.
If you yourself have never wrestled with mental health issues it can be particularly hard to understand the struggle. So, to help you understand, read the comments below from people who live with anxiety and depression on a daily basis.
LIVING WITH BOTH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
It’s like living with two different people inside your head
“The anxiety makes you stress over the littlest thing (like going to bed with dishes in the sink) and you berate yourself for it. But then the depression tells you there’s no point in taking care of it because nothing matters anyway so you stay in bed. Then while you lay there your mind wigs out about everything else going on but you don’t have the energy to sort it all out.” — Carmella D.
It’s a never-ending rollercoaster
“You worry all the time. The voices inside your head won’t stop. You stress over every little detail and yet sometimes you can’t even care. You feel exhausted every day. It’s hard to concentrate or find the energy to do anything. It sucks the life right out of you.” — Brian T.
Nothing brings you joy
“You always have this sense of fear even when there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your mind tells you there’s always something to worry about. You over-think and worry about things to the point where you can’t sleep, lose your appetite, and can’t breathe. The depression feels like a heavy weight on your chest. You feel constantly tired, sad and uninspired. Nothing seems to bring much joy and you feel alone and withdrawn. It really feels overwhelming.” — Abbey B.
It’s like living a nightmare
“It’s a vicious cycle of not caring about anything because of the depression while caring too much about everything because of the anxiety. You want to sleep and forget everything but you can’t because you are overthinking everything you didn’t do or have to do.” — Cameron T.
People dealing with anxiety and depression say waking up every day is a struggle. They feel like they are fighting a battle day-in, day-out. But if you ask them what’s one of the hardest parts?—It would be trying to hide it. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of others often keep them from talking about their difficulties. And even though they long to confide in someone who genuinely understands what they are dealing with, the fear of being viewed as “different” holds them back from reaching out for support.
If you are someone who lives with anxiety and depression you know exactly what these people are talking about because you live it. It’s important for you to know you are not alone even though you might feel lonely. Depression and anxiety affect more of us than you know. Or maybe anxiety and depression are not your struggles but you know or live with someone whose struggle it is. Hopefully by reading this it will help you to empathize with what they are dealing with.
There would be no point in writing this blog if I didn’t end it with a word of encouragement and hope — and that being, that symptoms of depression and anxiety are treatable. In fact, there are lots of ways to get help and even some you can try on your own.
1. Talk Therapy (Counseling) – A professional therapist will work with you to develop a plan to treat your anxiety and depression at the same time. There are many types of talking therapy and different therapies suit different people. Working with a trained therapist, they will help you find answers to the problems you are having as well as give you the skills to manage your symptoms.
2. Medication – Sometimes along with talk therapy your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant drug that can treat both depression and anxiety symptoms.
3. Exercise – This can be very helpful for both disorders. Physical activity is a proven mood-booster. It causes feel-good chemicals to be released in the body which aids in relaxation and a feeling of well-being.
4. Relaxation Techniques – Give yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises a try. Meditating for just 2-5 minutes during the day can ease your anxiety and lighten your mood.
5. Watch Your Diet – Anxiety and depression often trigger cravings for carbs in the form of unhealthy “comfort foods.” It’s important to take care of yourself by eating a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, good fats, lots of fruits and veggies while limiting sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
6. Get Support – This one is vitally important! Anyone going through struggles of any kind know that having strong relationships help you feel better. And living with anxiety and depression is no different. Reaching out to family and friends and letting them know what you’re going through is a good place to start. But joining a support group is especially helpful because you’ll meet others going through the same things as you are. There, you might also discover coping suggestions as well as encouragement from others that will prove to be useful.
HELPING A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND
When someone you love or care about is experiencing symptoms of mental illness, you are presented with some complex and unique challenges. Getting support for yourself is just as important as the loved one with the illness. Not only to learn how to be helpful and supportive of the person you care about but also to learn how to take care of yourself in the process. Oftentimes, some of the best support can come from others who are also walking in your shoes.
Whether you are dealing with anxiety and/or depression it’s important for you to find out and understand what is happening. If you would like to take a step toward feeling better, please call me, (Kris Henderson) at 616-516-1570 or schedule an appointment online. Let’s work together on bringing a healing and balance to your life where you can feel you are in charge of your inner self again.
*Names have been changed