With changes in work culture and mandatory isolation since the outbreak of Covid-19, depression and anxiety disorder have become causes of concern for countries around the globe.
5 in 10 COVID Survivors Struggle With Depression
Depression is a real mental illness. It is normal to feel sad and anxious once in a while. But if negative emotions become a constant companion, life can be very painful. That’s why in the times that we live, it’s very important that we understand the what and why of depression and anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
● Do you worry too much?
● Do you fear every situation?
● Do you feel nervous and restless regularly?
● Do you sweat or tremble when in an uncomfortable situation?
● Do you find it difficult to stop worrying about the end result?
● Do you have trouble concentrating on the work at hand?
If the answer to all or most of the above questions is a ‘Yes’, then you may suffer from an anxiety-related disorder. More intense anxiety often leads people to have physical symptoms like increased heart rate, tingling in hands, pressured speech, and even panic attacks.
In the worst case, untreated anxiety disorder could spiral quickly into depression, a state of constant sadness. A depressed person stops enjoying things he or she once loved. Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, grief, and despair.
It’s hard to explain depression. It’s like moving in circles or chasing darkness. Some common signs of depression include:
Symptoms of Depression
● Hopeless outlook
● Severe anxiety
● Low self-esteem
● Low energy levels
● Increased fatigue
● Lost appetite
● No control over emotions
● Suicidal thoughts
Anxiety & Depression: Overlapping symptoms
Depression and anxiety have many common symptoms. Infact, severe anxiety may lead to depression in the long run.
If you have both conditions then you may experience:
● Difficulty in sleeping
● Drop-in body’s energy level.
● Increased irritability
● Wek concentration and memory
● Body pain and stomach issues.
With anxiety, you might find yourself:
● Stuck in a thought loop. Thinking over and over again about things that could go wrong
● Worrying exaggeratedly and feeling tense and nervous about things you cannot control.
With depression, you might find yourself:
● Feeling miserable and guilty about yourself and those around you.
● Blaming yourself for past events, missed opportunities, and bad relationships.
Getting a diagnosis
Seeking treatment for anxiety and depression may seem uneasy initially. Moreso, speaking about your fears and emotions to a third person, in this case, a Doctor, is not easy. But remember that depression is not uncommon these days.
Also, it is rare for someone to recover from depression and anxiety without help from an expert. On the other hand, early symptoms of depression and anxiety will only get worse with time. That’s why time is of the essence in case of mental issues. A timely diagnosis will benefit not only you but also your family and friends.
Visiting an expert is the first step towards recovery. An expert will better understand your symptoms and suggest the best treatment plan for you.
Never Hesitate to Express Your Feelings
The best medicine for depression is to open up and reveal your thoughts to your doctor. . Never hesitate to express your feelings. The more you talk to your doctor, the more accurate will be the diagnosis
Your doctor will look for specific symptoms in your daily moods, social behaviour, and lifestyle habits. The doctor may also ask you to fill out a questionnaire for depression diagnosis and screening.
Again as we already know by now, depression symptoms may vary from one form to another. Some patients exhibit extreme apathy towards themselves, while others show agitation and anger at the slightest incitement.
DSM-5 is the standard set by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM-5 offers no guidelines for treatment of anxiety disorder and depression. It only sets the criteria for assessment of mental disorder.
● Depressed or bad mood throughout the day
● Feeling of hopelessness
● Withdrawal from daily activities, especially work.
● No control over emotions
● Unexpected weight gain or loss for no apparent reason
● Fatigue and tiredness throughout the day
● Difficulty in concentrating at work
● changes in sleep patterns
● Unexplained physical aches and pains
● Recurrent sadness and thoughts of death
For depression: You must have exhibited at least 5 of the 9 main symptoms for at least 2 weeks.
For anxiety: You must have exhibited frequent mood-swing, excessive thinking, and worrying with no obvious reason, for at least 6 months.
Can anxiety cause depression?
So far we have observed that anxiety and depression have many overlapping traits and symptoms. Anxiety is normal if it occurs once in a blue moon. Hiervr, chronic anxiety is something that you should not ignore.
If you have frequent spells of anxiety, then it is always wise to check for depression symptoms as well.
Managing depression and anxiety disorder
Most people try to hide depression. They fear the perception of society and the people around them. But there is no reason to fear. It’s OK to talk about mental health.
● Consult an expert
● Share your symptoms
● Follow a treatment plan
● Stay positive
There are tons of online forums where you can find depression and anxiety disorder support groups. These chat rooms may be all you need to feel less lonely when experiencing depression
What to do when depressed? Relaxation Techniques for Self-help
1. Stop self-blaming
Acceptance is the first step towards victory over depression. There are going to be days when you will feel weak and blame yourself. But there is nothing to feel guilty about. With time and patience, you will identify the underlying triggers and win over them
2. Divert Your Focus and Feelings
Whenever you find yourself over thinking and getting anxious, try to divert your mind. You can do this easily by taking up activities like painting, puzzle-solving, or even helping others in daily chores.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
Diet plays a big role in managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Consult an expert dietician for a diet that keeps your blood pressure balanced and meets your body’s nutritional needs.
4. Sleep Well
While this is always easier said than done, good sleep goes a long way in managing depression and anxiety disorder. It allows your mind the much-needed rest. You will also feel more energetic after a good night's sleep. Start by following a routine. Have a fixed sleeping hour. With time your body and mind will adjust accordingly.
5. Find a Fun Hobby
Hobbies are more than just pastimes. They allow your mind to relax. Here are a few options you can try:
● Learn how to cook
● Learn an instrument
● Practice meditation
● Go for morning/evening walks
● Join an NGO
● Learn how to pain
● Take up gardening
Therapy for Treatment
The doctor shall recommend personal therapy that best fits the individual's symptoms. The duration of therapy may also vary depending on the severity and symptoms. Some of the standard therapies include:
● Cognitive Therapy - Focused on the negative thoughts
● Behavioural Therapy- Controlling behaviour that affects emotions
● Dialectical Behaviour Therapy- Changing negative and suicidal thinking pattern
● Interpersonal Therapy- Helping individuals resolve personal conflicts and build stronger interpersonal relationship
Also, the mental health expert may opt for different approaches to deliver the therapy. These include:
● Individual therapy: One-on-one sessions
● Family therapy: For children and teens
● Group therapy: For developing self-awareness and confidence by listening to others
● Couples therapy: For a depressed partner
In some cases, the mental health expert may also suggest a combination of approaches for better results.
Medication for Depression and Anxiety
● Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
● Tetracyclic antidepressants
● N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)
For Treating Anxiety Disorders
● Antidepressants such as SSRIs
● Benzodiazepines ( alprazolam (Xanax)
● Diazepam (Valium)
● Buspirone (Buspar),
● and lorazepam (Ativan)
Please note that anxiety and depression medications must only be taken until and unless recommended and prescribed by an expert.
Can Anxiety and Depression Be Treated Together?
Many people have both anxiety disorder and clinical depression. However, therapy plays a key role in treating these disorders. And, psychological counselling will vary as the trigger for anxiety and depression is not always the same.
Your mental health expert may suggest a combination of Cognitive-Behavioural therapy if symptoms for both issues overlap.
Courage is the Capacity to Accept and Move Ahead
Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate. They can target people of all ages and social groups. And, they can both strike at once.
If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, or if you have a question related to you or someone else mental health, talking to an expert is now easy. Find mental health experts nearby with a click.