Face to Face with Depression and Anxiety

Who doesn’t want to lead a successful, happy and healthy life? As you grow, you aspire to accomplish great things, tap your maximum potential and achieve the best you can. However, all your plans go down the gallows with the onset of depression. This severe mental illness affects millions of people across the globe.

However, depression and anxiety are not the same. People with depression may experience similar symptoms because both are classified as disorders but with different diagnosis and lines of treatment. The former requires antidepressant medication, whereas the latter is treated with psychotherapy related to psychological problems.

Let’s find out more about both disorders and how they are still considered a stigma even in today’s modern era.

What is Depression?

To put it simply, depression is a persistent feeling of remorse and sadness. It makes you lose interest in routine life activities and drains your emotional and even physical energy. When left untreated for a long time, its severity can also lead you to attempt suicide.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Genetic factors can also play a significant role in this regard. Suppose one or both of your parents have a history of a mental disorder. There are high chances that you, too, could get affected at some point in your life, especially when facing gruesome life circumstances. It is a highly complex illness and may leave you as clueless as others when it first hits you since it is not mere sadness.

While normal sadness can be overcome with leisure activities, persistent depressive thoughts for more than two weeks can be alarming and requires prompt psychiatric treatment.

Depression usually starts tightening its grip around its prey during the teenage years. A life phase when the transition to adolescence causes hormonal and other biological changes in the body. During this stage, individuals grow physically and emotionally, making them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

Besides, bullying at school/college also becomes a perfect recipe to stir negative thoughts and grow into a full-blown depressive disorder in a person.

How to Identify Depression?

Depression affects people differently since it is classified into two main types: Bipolar/Manic Depressive Disorder and Major or Clinical Depressive Disorder. However, some of the most common symptoms related to clinical depression you can look for are:

• Persistent feelings of guilt and sadness for at least two weeks
• Increased irritability
• Increased sensitivity to criticism
• Change in sleep pattern
• Appetite loss
• Feeling of hopelessness
• Low self-esteem
• Shattered self-confidence/Self-doubt
• Withdrawal symptoms
• Lack of interest in all sorts of activities
• Suicidal thoughts
• Reduced self-efficacy
• Automatic negative thoughts
• Delusions
• Poor self-hygiene

If any of these symptoms are prevalent, you must seek psychiatric help for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

How to Manage Depression?

Managing depression is a life-long commitment because it is capable of relapsing. However, with adequate awareness about the triggers, consistent medical help, psychotherapy, and physical training, depression is manageable.

Besides taking medication or antidepressants, talking about your negative thoughts to someone you trust can help you, too, especially to a clinical psychologist during psychotherapy. You can learn to identify the negative thought patterns and practice rationalizing them using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

For instance, a psychologist may ask you to write down your thoughts on a paper and analyze the trigger situations. Then, practice replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. It could be difficult initially, but as you expose yourself more to the triggers, it will become easier. CBT is also used to treat many other mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders.

Social Anxiety Disorder

People suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) dread social gatherings or events, where they have to be among strangers. Some people confuse anxiety with common shyness. The former is a severe disorder that subdues an individual’s ability to make friends or even strike a normal conversation with others in general. Preoccupation with worries like being scrutinized by strangers, a pounding heart and a jittery feeling when out of your comfort zone are some of the most common signs of SAD.

Symptoms of anxiety

• Excessive feelings of being scrutinized when among strangers
• Racing negative thoughts
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia
• Digestion issues 
• Shortness of breath
• Low self-esteem
• Self-doubt
• Lack of confidence
• Social withdrawal
• Problems with taking phone calls

How to Treat and Manage Anxiety?

In some cases, depression and anxiety go hand in hand. Hence, its treatment and management are more or less the same as depression. However, the first step is to accept that you have anxiety because many people ignore the symptoms. Once you are aware of the problem, next comes the treatment process, which involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Just like depression, CBT also plays a vital role in the treatment of anxiety. It, too, consists of exposure therapy and identifying the triggers. The main objective of CBT is to help you become aware of your thoughts. Once you learn to identify them and what triggers them, practice replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Why People Avoid Depression and Anxiety Treatment?

It is mainly because some people still associate mental illnesses with madness or dumbness. They fear being made fun of if others find out about their problem. There is a lot of stigma around seeking psychiatric or psychological help which is not fair. Many lack awareness, even close family members, and it aggravates the symptoms.

However, depression, anxiety or any other type of mental disorder is just like any physical health complication, including diabetes, blood pressure, and cancer and requires medical attention. The only difference is invisibility.

With the increasing rate of mental disorders, it has become imperative to create awareness and remove the stigma attached to such illnesses. People suffering from them need love, compassion and empathy to heal, just like physical problems. Just because depression is a mental state and cannot be seen physically doesn’t mean it is not present or that it should be undermined at all.

Let’s join hands and accept that depression and anxiety are authentic and help those who are vulnerable!

Keywords: Depression, Anxiety, Mental Illness, Mental Disorders