What is Depression & Anxiety?
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, and with the current worldwide changes due to COVID-19, depression and anxiety are becoming more common than ever. This can be hard to navigate, especially if these feelings are new for many due to ever-changing work
environments, stress from job loss, homeschooling, losing access to resources like counseling, addiction counseling services, etc. If depression or anxiety is new to you, or even if you’ve experienced them your whole life, let’s take a deep dive into what both depression and anxiety really are and how to know if you might be suffering from one or both of these illnesses.
What is Depression?
Depression, which is also known as major depressive disorder, brings a negative effect on how you think and feel on a regular basis. This can make it extremely hard to cope in your day-to-day life as it causes you to feel sad and lose interest in activities where you would normally find joy. Depression symptoms range from constant feelings of sadness to changes in eating habits, sleeping habits, feeling worthless or undervalued, having a hard time thinking or decision making, and more. Luckily, this disease is treatable through a combination of counseling and sometimes medication.
Diagnosing & Treating Depression
It can be difficult to diagnose and treat depression because feelings of sadness can stem from various situations that happen throughout any person’s normal life. Things, like losing a job, losing a loved one, or ending a relationship, can cause a person to fall into a state of depression. However, major depressive disorder is characterized by at least two weeks of being unable to shake your emotions of sadness as well as a change in habits and loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed. Treating depression can be difficult as each person requires a different type of treatment in order to be effective. Medication is one type of treatment for depression, which is only considered after a thorough diagnostic evaluation by a medical professional. There are times where brain chemistry is more susceptible to depression, which can only be treated by medicine. Additionally, therapy is a very real form of treatment that can assist that fighting depression through techniques that do not involve medicine. These include psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, as well as self-help and coping mechanisms such as instilling healthy habits like regular exercise, enough sleep, a well-balanced diet, and beyond.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety, in its most definitive form, is a person’s bodily response to stress. Feelings of anxiety can be brought on by several factors such as starting a new job, moving to a new place, major changes in the environment, etc. The difference between normal stress and anxiety is that anxiety becomes something that is extreme and can lead to an actual anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder moves beyond stress or fear and becomes something that takes over your daily life and causes you to feel fearful or nervous all the time to the point where it can be debilitating at times. This type of anxiety is very unhealthy as it can lead to a variety of health issues and bad habits such as substance abuse, overeating, a tendency toward violence, etc.
Diagnosing & Treating Anxiety
Anxiety disorders cover a wide variety of things including panic, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsiveness, post-traumatic stress, and more. Diagnosing the type of anxiety disorder you may be suffering from typically stems from certain events that may have occurred throughout your life. These types of events can include abuse during childhood or adulthood, intense violence such as war or criminal situations, and even examples of humiliation or shame. Treating anxiety can be difficult as it is hard to diagnose and also hard to admit as the feelings of anxiety are very common and cause one to feel as if they aren’t something that they necessarily need “help” treating.
Symptoms of anxiety can include jitteriness, irritability, sleeplessness, fear, shame, and more. We as a society also tend to “shame” those who admit feelings of fear or anxiety due to these feelings being associated with weakness. If you are feeling overly anxious or fearful of anything in general, seeking medical help is always in your best interest. Depression and anxiety can sometimes go hand in hand and can become immensely dangerous to your health when gone untreated. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms
listed, please seek the opinion of a medical professional. The worst-case scenario is that you are diagnosed as healthy and given ways to improve your mental health on your own, however ignoring a genuine diagnosis can lead to very significant health issues. Leaving any of these symptoms untreated in any way does not only harm you but also those around you, please seek help if you feel you may be experiencing depression or anxiety.