What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Emotional and Physical Manifestations

It’s the thinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

Generalized anxiety disorder is a relatively common anxiety problem, affecting 3-4% of the population that turns daily life into a state of worry, anxiety, and fear. Excessive thinking and dwelling on the "what ifs" characterizes this anxiety disorder. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry, and becomes depressed about life and the chronic state of anxiety they find themselves in.  Generalized anxiety usually does not cause people to avoid situations, and there isn’t an element of a "panic attack" involved in the prognosis, either.

Emotional Manifestations

Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in life are common in general anxiety. Many times there is no "trigger" or "cause" for these feelings and the person realizes these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no "energy" or "zest" in life and no desire to want to do much.

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

This emotional fear and worry can be quite strong. If a loved one is ten minutes late, the person with generalized anxiety fears the very worst -- something’s dreadfully wrong (after all, they’re ten minutes late!), there’s been an accident, the paramedics are taking the person to the hospital and his injuries are just too critical to resuscitate him....."Oh, my God!.....WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" Feelings of fear and anxiety rush in from these thoughts, and the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression runs wild.

Some people with generalized anxiety have fluctuations in mood from hour to hour, whereas others have "good days" and "bad days". Others do better in the morning, and others find it easier at the end of the day. These anxiety feelings and moods feed on themselves, leading the person to continue in the pattern of worry and anxiety -- unless something powerful breaks it up.

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Physical manifestations 

The physical manifestations of generalized anxiety may include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Elements of social anxiety and/or panic may sometimes be present, such as high levels of self-consciousness in some situations, and fear of not being able to escape from enclosed spaces.

It is also common, but not universal, for people with generalized anxiety to experience other problems, such as a quick startle response, a lack of ability to fully relax, and the propensity to be in a state of constant motion. It is difficult for some people with generalized anxiety to settle down enough to have a quiet, reflective time where they can calm down, relax, and feel some peace and tranquility. Strategies to peacefully calm down and relax are one part in overcoming this problem.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

What Causes General Anxiety?

Normal life stresses aggravate generalized anxiety. The person who typically performs well at work and receives a sense of accomplishment from it, all of a sudden finds that work has become drudgery. If work is perceived as a negative environment, and the person no longer feels fulfilled, then considerable worry takes place over these situations. As a result, the anticipatory anxiety about going to work can become quite strong.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

How It is Treated ?

Generalized anxiety has been shown to respond best to cognitive-behavioral therapy, an active therapy that involves more than just talking to a therapist. In CBT, the person gradually learns to see situations and problems in a different perspective and learns the methods and techniques to use to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Sometimes medication is a helpful adjunct to therapy, but for many people it is not necessary. Research indicates that generalized anxiety is fully treatable and can be successfully overcome over the course of about three to four months if the person is motivated and works toward recovery.

Generalized anxiety must be chipped away from all sides and that is what CBT is designed to do. No one has to live with generalized anxiety disorder.  Treatment for GAD has been shown to be both effective and successful.

Please seek a therapist who understands anxiety and the anxiety disorders. Remember, that just because a person has a degree behind their name, does not mean they understand and can treat an anxiety disorder. Feel free to ask questions of any professional and make sure your therapist understands and knows how to treat generalized anxiety. It is usually a good idea to see a specialist in this area because they have a practice that is geared toward the anxiety disorders.

Feeling depressed? 7 Facts About Depression Treatment

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Depression is something we all can experience, however if we don’t attend to some of the symptoms it can turn into a Major Depression and it can be a devastating—even life-threatening—condition.

Thousands of studies have examined what works in restoring hope and vitality. I've compiled 10 important facts about depression treatment, based on the latest research.

1. Psychotherapy, in particular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication are equally effective in treating depression. Medication can help with severe depression even as much as CBT. 

2. Chronic and more severe depression responds better to a combination of medication and therapy. It can be more effective than meds alone, and medication adds additional benefits for those receiving weekly psychotherapy. For mild, non-chronic depression, therapy sessions typically work as well as the combination—and avoids the additional time, effort, cost, and side effects.

3. CBT is not the only type of talk therapy that works well in treating depression. There's growing evidence that short-term psychodynamic therapy is helpful as is a more general type of treatment called “ non directive supportive therapy.”

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4. Movement can release a lot of anxiety and tension in the body when youre feeling depressed. It doesn’t need to be rigorous exercise. A simple 30 minute walk can be a powerful antidepressant treatment. Researchers have found benefits of walking, jogging, running, resistance training, and other forms of movement.

5. Healthy eating may be an effective way to relieve depression based on a study from earlier this year. Educating people about better eating habits including increasing awareness of your choices could lead to big reductions in depression. Participants in the study were advised to increase consumption of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and lean proteins, among other foods; and to reduce heavily processed and sugary foods, as well as alcohol.

6. Fewer relapses are supported when continuing psychotherapy services and practice the tools learned in treatment. Learned interventions such as “"aimed at cultivating positive feelings, positive behaviors, or positive cognitions” can relieve depression symptoms.

7. Mindfulness and its practice prevents depression relapse, particularly among those with 3 or more episodes of depression. Those who practice mindfulness skills were 34 percent less likely to relapse an effect that's comparable to staying on medication for depression.

Is it time today to take a step toward getting help? Maybe you have a loved one who's been struggling with depression. Consider talking with that person about looking into treatment options. Or perhaps you've been thinking about treatment yourself, and even have a recommendation for a provider from someone you trust but haven't yet made that call. Why not reach out right now? 

The information here is not intended as medical advice—talk to a healthcare professional you trust if you or a loved one needs help with depression.

 

Self-Care Strategies When Dealing with Anxiety

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We are often afraid of silence, because emptiness feels unproductive, scary and worries might come to surface. So we fill our lives with noise, clutter, and chaos.

Silence can be powerful, therapeutic, and the remedy for our stress, anxiety, and the habits that crush us. If we want quiet and peace in our lives, how do we created?

Here are some strategies to create space and sooth anxiety:

  1. Valuing the Person You Are: Appreciate the person you are by providing kind thoughts and actions to yourself.

  2. Refocus on the Reward: Remember to focus on the benefit and privileges you have; practice gratitude.

  3. Recognize the Hazards: Acknowledge and accept day to day challenges.

  4. Minding the Body: Remember to practice the essential;s of health living: sleep, eat, have fun.

  5. Seeking Nurturing Relationships: Cultivate support among friends, family members, mentors. Ask the question, “Who can I trust?”

  6. Sustain Healthy Escapes: Seek restorative activities that keep you vital and engaged.

  7. Cultivate Spirituality and Mission: Connect to sources of meaning and value in your life

  8. Foster Creativity and Growth.

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Learn to seek professional help sooner than later. Engaging in psychotherapy on a periodic basis as a form of positive self-development.

How to recognize signs of depression?

Depression is cruel and it can affect anyone. The symptoms might begin with some general worries, some guilt and very quickly can slide down a black hole where these thoughts spiral down and take over feeding depression and its severity.

1.     Feeling Hopeless

Major depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you feel about life in general. Having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most common symptom of depression. Other feelings may be worthlessness, self-hate, or inappropriate guilt.  Common, recurring thoughts of depression may be vocalized as, “It’s all my fault,” “I’m worthless “or “What’s the point?

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2.     Loss of Interest

Depression can take the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love. A loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another telltale sign of major depression. Another area where you may lose interest is sex. Symptoms of major depression include decreased sex drive and impotence.

3.     Fatigue and Sleep Problems

Part of the reason you might stop doing things you enjoy is because you feel very tired. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of featigue which can be among the most debilitating symptoms of depression. This could lead to excessive sleeping. Depression is also linked with insomnia as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety.

4.     Anxiety

If you’ve been feeling down and you just can’t seem to shake it off then it is not just sadness. While depression doesn’t cause anxiety, the two conditions often occur together. Symptoms of anxiety can include:

·        restlessness, nervousness, or feeling tense

·        dread, panic, fatigue

·        rapid breathing

·        feeling on edge

·        increased sweating

·        trembling or muscle twitching

·        trouble focusing

·        foggy thinking clearly

·        obsessing about things you’re worried about

5.     Irritability

Depression can affect irritability.  People suffering from depression may have symptoms of irritability, anger, risky behavior, and/or substance abuse. People are less likely to recognize it is depression causing these symptoms in order to seek treatment for it.

6.     Appetite changes

Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if they’re intentional or not. If they’re not, it may mean that they’re caused by depression.

7.     Thinking of death

In 2013, more than 42,000 people died from suicide in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often people will talk about it or make a first attempt before succeeding in ending their life. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

·         Call 911 or your local emergency number.

·         Stay with the person until help arrives.

·         Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.

·         Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

If you have had some of the previously mentioned symptoms for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from major depression disorder. Recognizing that you’re depressed is essential to getting the right help.

Depression affects millions of people, but there are treatments available, from lifestyle changes to medications. No matter the path of treatment you choose, asking for professional help is the first step to getting back to feeling like yourself again.

 

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I Am Anxious and Can’t Get Out of It! What’s Wrong with Me?

Anxiety is a solvable problem, yet you might find it harder to overcome. The reason is that, while you have the ability to overcome it, anxiety “tricks” you into maintaining it rather than removing your fears and symptoms. Most people try to resist anxiety, however most of the anxiety problems come from efforts to resist or remove anxiety.

Most people mean well when they suggest to someone feeling anxious to “calm down!” or advice to “stop worrying about it!” Yet, nothing good comes out of it. If it were that simple people would “calm down” or “stop thinking” about it.

The more you fight your anxiety, the more it grows. It’s like throwing gasoline to the fire. People who struggle with persistent anxiety have tried some type of relief and when it has not worked they might think it is their fault or that there is something wrong with them for not being able to get out of it.  But if it’s really true that the harder you try the worse it gets, you probably need to look at the other strategies. Here are some successful methods I use in session with clients struggling from anxiety noticing results:

1. Psycho-Education: To reduce and overcome anxiety, you must understand the symptoms. If you know that adrenaline is a result of the flight or fight system, you won't be as worried and unsure as to what's happening to your body. If you recognize your symptoms you might find it comforting to know it is anxiety that’s causing you to feel or behave a certain way. Learning how your anxiety works is the first step to healing.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing – All of us breathe (I’d hope) yet most anxious individuals do not use their lungs in a way that is beneficial for them. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is a technique I use in session to help clients come back to a normal state, slightly reducing anxiety and its physical symptoms. 

3. Biofeedback – Practicing biofeedback can be not only helpful for anxiety but also measurable for the “skeptical”client. Heart Rate Variability is very important for the entire regulation of the complete system. The autonomic Nervous System is the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic and enables humans to adapt very rapidly to the vast potential for changes that occur in their environment. As you can imagine this does wonder for he anxious body and mind.

4. Guided meditation – I work mostly with high functioning anxious individuals that suffer in silence. Most of them are accomplished in life, attended college, have great jobs, yet they deal with lingering anxiety day in and day out. My work includes guided meditations to increase self-compassion. Meditation itself is used in the sessions to create space and bring to surface negative self-talk, feelings of guilt, shame, not worthy etc…and then counteract these feelings with kindness. This approach is challenging for most yet has helped many clients to be easy on themselves, recognize thought patterns of self-destruction and see themselves in a different light.

Overall, it’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you. If you have difficulty managing anxiety and it impedes your ability to carry out your day to day activities therapy can help.

What is Depression and How can I Treat It?

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle.

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Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time. Prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities, trouble sleeping, decreased or increased of appetited are all symptoms of a more mood disorder. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive

According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) report, depression accounted for 3.7% of all U.S. disability-adjusted life years and 8.3% of all U.S. years lived with disability.

Causes of Depression

There is no one cause for depression, as it depends on a unique combination of an individual’s genetic makeup and environmental conditions. There are many factors to take into account:

·         The brain’s physical structure or chemistry

·         History of depression in family

·         History of other disorder (SAD, Anxiety, Complex Trauma etc.)

·         Stressful, traumatic events (abuse, financial issues, death of a loved one)

·         Hormone changes (menstrual cycles, pregnancy, taking hormones)

·         Certain medications (sleeping aids, blood pressure medication)

Types of Depression

Depression types can take many forms. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists nine distinct types:

1.      Major Depression, is the most common type of depression. Often, people with major depression experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives.

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2.      Dysthymia is a persistent low mood over a long period of time, even a year or more. It could be described as feeling like you’re living on autopilot.

3.      Some people are more sensitive to the lower amount of light in the wintertime. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression brought on from a lack of natural sunlight.

4.      Those with Atypical Depression often report feeling a heaviness in their limbs. They may suffer from irritability and relationship problems, as well as be prone to overeating and oversleeping.

5.      Bipolar Disorder is also called Manic Depressive Disorder because it involves alternating between mania and depressive episodes.

6.      Sometimes depressive episodes can get so severe that hallucinations or delusions are present, the person becomes catatonic, or they feel stuck in bed. This is known as Psychotic Depression.

7.      Postpartum Depression occurs after giving birth. Mothers may feel disconnected from their new baby or fear that they will hurt their child.

8.      Severe depression that shows up during the second half of the menstrual cycle is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It affects the individual’s ability to function normally.

9.      Situational Depression is triggered by a life-changing event. It could be anything, from losing your job to the death of an immediate family member.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Though there are multiple types of depression, many of them have similar recognizable symptoms. This list provides a general idea of what comprises depression:

·         Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

·         Irritability, frustration, or restlessness

·         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

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·         Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances, or sleeping too much

·         Fatigue and lack of energy

·         Difficulty thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions

·         Appetite or weight changes

·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

·         Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain

Experiencing some combination of these symptoms for a period of at least two weeks likely signifies that you are in the midst of a depressive episode.

Treatment

Any treatment for depression should coincide with a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule. It may sound simplistic, but the importance of taking care of your body cannot be overstated.

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There are various methods you could use to sooth the symptoms of depression. Physical activity is especially helpful for the depressed mind. It enables you to better handle stress, helps you sleep better at night, and the endorphins released give you a mental boost.

Yoga is a more accessible form of exercise, because it doesn’t require equipment and because many of the moves and poses do not require much effort.

Meditation is a highly effective way of clearing your head and calming your body. It’s also easy to do, with guided meditations available through phone apps, online in text and videos, and in books.

If you enjoy keeping a journal, you may find that it helps to express your thoughts on paper instead of bottling them inside. It’s helpful to have close friends and family who you can confide in, but they’re not always available or may be dealing with stress of their own.

For a more hands-on approach, try a mental health experts to dive into learning healthy coping skills to help with the current mood and prevent relapse.

Sonila Sejdaras Psy.D, LCSW, CADC

Relationship Anxiety & How to Deal with It?

“I’m not excited to see him when I come home. Things are different now. Why can’t it just be like it was in the beginning? There’s something wrong with me. Does he wants someone better or do I?”

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We’ve all experienced some of the scenarios above and become either the worrier or the partner of the worrier. Chances are, we’ve experienced both. Insecurity as most of us know firsthand, can be toxic to our closest relationships. And while it can bounce back and forth from partner to partner, both the cause of our insecurity and its cure reside within us alone.

Studies have found that people with low self –esteem concerns have more relationship insecurity, and want their partner to see them in a better light than they see themselves. However, in moments of self-doubt, they have trouble even recognizing their partner’s affirmations. Further, the acting out of our insecurities can push a partner away, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because this struggle is internal and goes on most of the time, independent of circumstances, it’s important to deal with our insecurities without distorting or dragging our partner into them. We can do this by taking two steps:

  • Uncover the real roots of our insecurity.

  • Challenge the inner critic that sabotages our relationship.

Roots of Insecurity

Nothing awakens distant hurts like a close relationship. Our relationships stir up old feelings from our past more than anything else. Our brains are even flooded with the same neurochemical in both situations.

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We all have relationship models that were formed in our early attachments to influential caretakers. Whatever our early pattern was shapes our adult relationships. Our style of attachments influences which partners we choose and the dynamics that play out in our relationships. A secure attachment pattern helps a person to be more confident and self-possessed. However, when someone has an anxious or preoccupied attachment style, they may be more likely to feel insecure toward their partner.

Knowing our attachment style is beneficial, because it can help us to realize ways we may be recreating a dynamic from our past. It can help us to choose better partners and form healthier relationships, which can actually, in turn, change our attachment style. Finally, it can make us more aware of how our feelings of insecurity may be misplaced, based on something old as opposed to our current situation.

Critical Inner Voice

Our insecurities can further stem from a “critical inner voice” that we’ve internalized based on negative programming from our past. If we had a parent who directed critical attitudes toward us, we tend to internalize this point of view and carry it with us like a cruel coach inside our heads. This inner critic tends to be very vocal about the things that really matter to us, like our relationships.

Relationships challenge core feelings we have about ourselves and evict us from long-lived-in comfort zones. They tend to turn up the volume of our inner voice and reopen unresolved wounds from our past. If we felt abandoned as a child, the aloof behavior of a romantic partner won’t just feel like a current frustration. It has the potential to send us back into the emotional state of a terrified child, who needed our parent for survival. As hard as it may feel to connect our contemporary reactions with beliefs, attitudes and experiences from our early lives, it is an invaluable tool for getting to know ourselves, and ultimately, for challenging behaviors that don’t serve us or even fit with our real, adult life.

How to Deal With Relationship Insecurity

In order to challenge our insecurity, we have to first get to know our critical inner voice. We should try to catch it each and every time is creeps into our minds. Sometimes, it may be easy. We’re getting dressed to go out on a date, and it screeches, “You look awful! You’re so fat. Just cover yourself up. He’ll never be attracted to you.” Other times, it’ll be sneakier, even soothing sounding, “Just keep to yourself. Don’t invest or show her how you feel, and you won’t get hurt.” This voice can even turn on our partner in ways that make us feel more insecure, “You can’t trust him. Identifying this critical inner voice is the first step to challenging it.

As we start to increase awareness and challenge these negative attitudes toward ourselves, we must also make an effort to take actions that go against the directives of our critical inner voice. In terms of a relationship, that means not acting out based on unwarranted insecurities or acting in any ways we don’t respect. Here are some helpful steps to take:

Maintain your independence. It’s crucial to keep a sense of ourselves separate from our partner. As Dr. Seigel said, the goal for a relationship should be to make a fruit salad and not a smoothie. In other words, we shouldn’t forego essential parts of who we are in order to become merged into a couple. Instead, each of us should work to maintain the unique aspects of ourselves that attracted us to each other in the first place, even as we move closer. In this way, each of us can hold strong, knowing that we are a whole person in and of ourselves.

Don’t act out no matter how anxious you are. Of course, this is easier said than done, but we all know our insecurities can precipitate some pretty destructive behavior. Acts of jealousy possessiveness can hurt our partner, not to mention us. Snooping through their text messages, calling every few minutes to see where they are, and getting mad every time they look at another attractive person are all acts that we can avoid no matter how anxious it makes us, and in the end, we will feel much stronger and more trusting. Even more importantly, we will be trustworthy.

Because we can only change our half of the dynamic, it’s always valuable to think about if there are any actions we take that push our partner away. If we’re acting in a way we respect, and we still don’t feel like we’re getting what we want, we can make a conscious decision to talk about it with our partner or change the situation, but we never have to feel victimized or allow ourselves to act in ways that we don’t respect.

Stop looking for reassurance. Looking to our partner to reassure us when we feel insecure only leads to more insecurities. Remember, these attitudes come from inside us, and unless we can overcome them within ourselves, it won’t matter how smart, sexy, worthy or attractive our partner tells us we are. No matter what, we must strive to feel okay within ourselves. This means really and fully accepting the love and affection our partner directs toward us. However, it doesn’t mean looking to our partner at every turn for reassurance to prove we are okay, a burden that weighs on our partner and detracts from ourselves.

A relationship should be equal in terms of maturity and kindnesses exchanged. If things feel off, we can communicate clearly what we want, but we shouldn’t expect our partner to read our minds or know exactly what to do all the time. As soon as we get into the blame game, it’s a hard cycle from which to break free.

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Be true to yourself. We all have anxiety but we can increase our tolerance for the many ambiguities that every relationship inevitably presents by being true to ourselves. We can invest in a person even when we know they have the power to hurt us. Keeping one foot out the door only keeps the relationship from becoming as close as it can and may even undermine it altogether. When we allow ourselves to be loved and to feel loving, we are bound to also feel anxious, but sticking it out has more rewards than we may imagine. When we take a chance without letting our insecurities dictate our behavior, the best case scenario is that the relationship blossoms, and the worst case is that we grow within ourselves. No time is wasted that taught us something about ourselves or that helped nourish our capacity to love and be vulnerable. 

Read more from Dr. Sonila Sejdaras at www.chicagopsych.org

What do I have Anxiety or Depression & How to Tell the Difference?

Depression and Anxiety are two different medical conditions, yet their symptoms, causes, and treatments can often overlap. People struggle sometimes to determine the difference between these two conditions. This is because many people with anxiety also develop depression and vice versa. Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with depression with also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to treat the correct conditions.

Many people with depression may experience what is known as “anxious distress” in addition to their low mood causing them to feel tense, restless, and have trouble concentrating because they worry so much. They are afraid that something bad is going to happen or that they might lose control of themselves. Below is a list of symptoms of depression:

 

Symptoms of Major Depression

·         depressed mood

·         lack of interest in enjoyable activities

·         increase or decrease in appetite

·         insomnia or hypersomnia

·         slowing of movement

·         lack of energy

·         feelings of guilt or worthlessness

·         trouble concentrating

·         suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

For a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a person needs to have experienced five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks. People experiencing some of these symptoms might also be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or a depressive disorder due to another condition. They may also meet the criteria for bipolar disorder if they also experience symptoms of mania.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

·         excessive worry

·         restlessness

·         being easily fatigued

·         trouble concentrating

·         irritability

·         sleep disturbance

·         muscle tension.

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If you’ve experienced these symptoms most days for more than six months, and they cause distress in your daily life, then you may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Other types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder, or phobias, among others.

If you compare the two lists of symptoms, you can see that there is some overlap. Sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and fatigue are all symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Irritability may also manifest in forms of anxiety or depression (in place of low mood).

There are however, some distinguishing features. People with depression move slowly, and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more keyed up, as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts. Another distinguishing feature is the presence of fear about the future in people with anxiety. Depressed people who do not have anxiety are less likely to be fraught with worry about future events, as they are often resigned to believing that things will continue to be bad. In other words, they may predict the future based on how they feel in the moment.

It is important to remember to let a doctor or mental health professional evaluate you to see if your symptoms meet the criteria for a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder.

 

How to improve your relationship?

As a therapist working with couples I find that couples fights have similar themes. Some of the issues coming to surface is money, chores, sex, parenting styles, and communication issues about all of the above. In general, people get tired of the same fights and I believe their intentions are to really improve their relationships. In my experience, when each person in the relationship is willing to address the underlying feelings that contribute to these arguments, progress can be made. We all get so upset that our partner spent too much money, didn’t pay enough attention to us, or slacked on the household chores that we sometimes stop doing the most important thing: listening.

Some of most important aspect of a successful relationship is respect for and attention to your partner’s feelings. It is important to not be distracted when your partner is hurting and address their needs. Awareness and understanding what your partner is experiencing can help bringing collaborate support into your relationship. However, the partner sharing their feelings and needs has a critical job. If you criticize, blame, or accuse your partner as you express what you are feeling, it is hard for your partner to listen.

According to research, many couples start to come apart seven years after the wedding because our culture doesn’t teach us how to maintain and strengthen our emotional bonds. That’s where The Gottman Institute (relationship expert) comes in. The seven ideas below, drawn from four decades of real science, will make your love last a lifetime.

1. Seek help early.
The average couple waits six years before seeking help for relationship problems. And keep in mind, half of all marriages that end do so in the first seven years. This means the average couple lives with unhappiness for far too long. If you feel there’s any sign of trouble in your marriage early on, seek help.

2. Edit yourself.
The most successful couples are kind to each other. They avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics, and they will find ways to express their needs and concerns respectfully without criticizing or blaming their partners. 

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 3. Soften your “start up.”
Arguments often “start up” because one partner escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark. Bringing up problems gently and without blame works much better and allows couples to calmly engage in conflict.

4. Have high standards.
Happy couples have high standarts for each other. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. Low levels of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship equals a happier couple down the road.

5. Learn to repair and exit the argument.
Happy couples have learned how to exit an argument, or how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Examples such as: using humor; offering a caring remark (“I understand that this is hard for you”); making it clear you’re on common ground (“We’ll tackle this problem together”); and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and their feelings along the way.

If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.

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6. Focus on the positives.
In a happy marriage, while discussing problems, couples make at least five as many positive comments to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones. For example, a happy couple will say “We laugh a lot” instead of “We never have any fun.” A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make regular deposits to your emotional back accounts.  

As Dr. Gottman says, “Everything Positive you do in a relationship is foreplay.” If you are having problems in your relationship, try looking for positive ways to engage your partner. Even if there is conflict, making a kind remark, or a thoughtful gesture can go a long way if your relationship is stuck in a rut.

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

Depression drains your energy, creates changes in sleep and eating pattern, and brings feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, making it difficult to see the goodness in self and others, and most importantly has people feeling they don’t belong. You can’t just “snap out of it,” but you can use resources and a wealth of information to gladden the mind even if your depression is stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and be kind to yourself. We hear people say “Be kind to yourself” quite often, yet most people see it as something external such as yoga, massage, grab lunch with a friend etc… While these options are good, self-care has to include self-compassion also known as “working from within.”  Increasing awareness and insight can also help to make healthier choices.

How do you deal with depression?

Dealing with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed can be hard. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action. I recommend, finding some space to investigate your thoughts. Increase awareness on how you’re talking to yourself? Are you putting yourself down? Are you magnifying situations where you feel stuck and overlooking when life is going well? The work within is much harder than the exercise, chatting with a friend, or going to a yoga class. The thoughts are with you 24/7. If you can alter them for the better, the actions of doing will come easier than forcing them.

Reach out and stay connected

Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.

You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people, including yourself, and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help wouldn’t you want to help them too?

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How to reach out for depression support

Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.

Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.

Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

Research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support to yourself. Be mindful of not holding on trying to control your experience because when we try to, we are not being present of living our lives. Letting go of ruminating thoughts might be a healthy sign of healing from depression.