Demystifying anxiety and depression
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Demystifying anxiety and depression
The phrases “anxiety” and “depression” carry a heavyweight to them.
You might not have heard anything about these ailments if you’re younger or from a different culture. The impact these diagnoses may have on people and their families is likely something you’ve seen firsthand if you, like one-third of Washingtonians last year, have symptoms or know someone who does.
The Seattle Times provides this primer on sadness and anxiety in an effort to better understand mental health. It’s not meant to be a diagnostic tool: If you have questions, contact your doctor or mental health professional. A guide for adults who are ready to seek out a therapist has been created, as well as a guide for parents who want to talk to their children about mental health.
For starters, it’s not uncommon for people to go through periods of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that continue for weeks or months at a time. In the absence of treatment, the mental and physical toll of severe anxiety and depression can be crippling.
To describe anxiety: Nervousness is acceptable and, in some ways, beneficial because it drives people to take action. For example, it’s understandable to be concerned about a looming work deadline.
What makes a difference is how much worry you have and how much time you have to worry. The emotion fades away as soon as the test or deadline is over. It doesn’t hold true for people who suffer from clinical anxiety: instead, the stress hangs around.
A person’s sleep and eating habits, energy level, libido, ability to concentrate in class, and interpersonal interactions can all be negatively impacted by anxiety.
Depressive symptoms include feelings of extreme sadness and isolation, as well as exhaustion and negative thoughts about oneself. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or even an attempt to terminate one’s life at its worst.
According to Olympian Paul Currington, “it’s distinct from melancholy in that at least for me, it’s more of a feeling of hopelessness.” To give it a colour, “I’d say it’s more grey than black.”
Currington has decided to talk up about his melancholy and suicidal thoughts in an effort to connect with others and encourage them to open up about their own experiences.
“It may be really comforting to know that someone else is going through the same thing,” he remarked. “It just makes you think that everyone goes through this. Because you’re experiencing these emotions, you’re not weak or the only one.
Although genetics is thought to have a role in the development of many disorders, researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how they occur. If each of these conditions runs in your family, your chances of getting them are significantly higher. A traumatic incident, such as violence or abuse, or the death of a loved one, can worsen both anxiety and sadness.
Pseudo-anxiety disorders, anxiety linked to specific triggers (social anxiety disorder), and other more extreme forms of anxiety are all possibilities (phobias).
Changes in one’s personal or professional relationships, one’s financial state, or even a physical condition might set off a depressive episode. Addiction to drugs or alcohol, or the presence of other conditions, can exacerbate either disorder. In general, women are more prone to suffer from depression than men, as well as some communities of colour and immigrants.
Neurological effects on the brain and how they spread to other parts of the body are still being studied, but some patterns are beginning to emerge. In persons with serious depression, greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol are being studied by experts.
According to a 2020 meta-analysis of more than 100 research, persons with depression had smaller brains in some regions, including parts of the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. However, the amygdala, the portion of the brain connected with emotional processing, has a bigger volume in persons with anxiety and depression, according to the same study.
Both of these conditions can be properly managed, and people who have them can live healthy and productive lives. Experts say that the key to health is prevention and early detection.
Psychotherapy, commonly known as talk therapy, is an option. Clinical psychologist encourages people to take the initial step and seek treatment rather than wait until things deteriorate.
“It’s enough to get help if your anxiety or despair is causing you to lose meaning in your life,” Watson added.
Counselling can come in numerous forms, from cognitive behavioural therapy to exposure treatment. Exercising is also highly recommended by doctors. While it may be difficult to get out of bed when you’re depressed or anxious, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.
Medication, electroconvulsive therapy, novel forms of psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy, horse therapy, peer counsellor support groups, and more can all be used as therapies.
Watson advises first-time treatment clients to consider the following: What are your expectations going into therapy? Whether you’re seeking for precise criticism, solid plans, or just a listening ear, we can help. Tell your therapist about it.
You can also inquire about the therapist’s training and history. You have the choice of working with a therapist or counsellor who has a spiritual or religious background. Additionally, there are therapists that have specialised training in working with those who identify as transgender, queer, or have other types of experiences.
In the end, you’ll need a support system to assist you to get through this. It’s possible to get support from friends, family, coworkers, religious groups and those who share your interests. There is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health, although it is diminishing over time. People in the United States are becoming more open about their mental health, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association.