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How To Live With Anxiety

What Is It Like To Have Depression And Anxiety


This is the first question I wish I could answer for people who dont live with either depression or anxiety. And certainly not both. To be clear, Im happy for those people. I wouldnt wish any mental wellness challenge for anyone. Those who dont understand, cant understand because havent had to deal with it. For that for them I am happy.

That doesnt change the fact that I would love for them to be able to understand. If we were all more capable of understanding what others feel and experience, we would all be more capable of compassion and empathy.

And I find myself writing, at midnight on a Friday night, because of some of the very things that come along with depression and anxiety. Something trivial, silly, not worth getting upset about is keeping me up. This thing, when looked at with a logical mind, shouldnt cause these feelings. But it will, nonetheless, likely cost me a full nights sleep.

So here goes

How on earth is it possible to have both depression and anxiety? How can two things that seem so different coexist and create such havoc? Im afraid theres not a simple answer. Instead, maybe there is a way to explain what it feels like. Can this allow those who dont understand, but want to, a chance to step into someone elses shoes?

Its all clear now, right? Probably not. But if you feel this way or have felt this way, know youre not alone even though you feel lonely.

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What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms

You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.


Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.

Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.

There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.

Support groups

You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.

You might be able to find a local group by searching online.

Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:

Or you can call the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service on 0300 5000 927 for more information.

Recovery College

You can find more information about Recovery by clicking here.

Changing Negative Thoughts To Positive

One of the most powerful things a patient in treatment for anxiety disorders can learn is how to change negative thoughts and behaviors. This is the strength of CBT, and when a patient embraces the therapy, he or she learns how to take those strategies and keep using them long after treatment is over. Anxiety cannot simply be driven away by willpower, but the negative thoughts can be altered.

Changing negative thoughts begins with awareness. It is easy to worry without actually giving it much thought. CBT teaches patients to be more aware and to actively recognize anxiety and determine what is causing it. They then learn to take the negative thoughts surrounding those worries, like If I go to that party something embarrassing will happen and everyone will make fun of me, and change it to something more positive: If I go to that party Ill get to see people I havent spoken to for a while, and if I really feel uncomfortable I can always leave.

It takes practice to master this, but with the tools provided by a good therapist and active engagement in CBT, it gets easier. The more a person actively tries to recognize and change the negative thoughts associated with worry, the easier it becomes to manage and minimize anxiety.

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Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts

Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.

For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:

A Question Checklist

When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:

  • Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
  • What evidence is there that something is wrong?
  • Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?


Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:

  • I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
  • I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
  • My anxiety won’t control me.

Getting Used to Physical Symptoms

The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.

Anxiety And Depression: What Are The Possible Links

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Although clearly not identical emotional states, mental health research suggests that depression and anxiety often coexist because they can be caused by the same or similar factors. According to an article published May 2020 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, those overlapping causes can include:

  • Genetic Factors Genetic factors contribute to 40 percent of the predisposition to depressive and anxious symptoms, with 60 percent being attributed to environmental, noninherited factors. “Especially with anxiety, more so than depression, there often is some family history, and so therefore we think that there may be some genetic predisposition to this,” Connolly explains.
  • Environmental Factors Also referred to as social factors, these include experiences like trauma or neglect in early childhood, and current stressors such as relationship difficulties, unemployment, social isolation, and physical illness. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder , an anxiety disorder, are particularly likely to also develop depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health .
  • Pain Chronic pain, and particularly disabling pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome , low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain, are closely linked to psychological distress, including both anxiety and depression, notes Harvard Health. In fact, they say, research suggests that pain shares some biological mechanisms with anxiety and depression.

Recommended Reading: How Does Anxiety Affect People

Be Aware Of The Bigger Picture

Stress is often a legitimate response to difficult circumstances, that no amount of resilience or self-care can overcome, Boyd says. Much prolonged stress is a product of poverty, financial struggle and health conditions and exacerbated by cuts to benefits and support services. So any discussion of ways to cope must acknowledge that the solution lies in structural societal change, such as welfare reform, more protective labour laws and more support and resources for caregivers.

Middle-aged women, in particular, shoulder the burden, often working full-time while also caring for young children and elderly parents. Its unfair to put all of the responsibility for staying healthy on the individual, says Zamperoni. At the same time, that social change is often slow so people do need resources they can draw on in the meantime.

How To Stop Severe Anxiety Disorders

If you feel your anxiety is out of your control and significantly impacting your ability to function in life, go see your primary care provider immediately. Each additional day you go without treatment reinforces the anxiety, making it stronger. Because anxiety affects so many individuals, there are several options available.

Other anxiety reduction strategies like relaxation exercises and meditation may be less effective for severe anxiety, because the severity often makes spending time on those activities harder to accomplish. They may be useful in combination with other techniques, but should not be used alone.

It is highly recommended to seek therapy to better tackle long term management of severe anxiety.

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Also Check: What An Anxiety Attack Feels Like

The Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Now that we know more about the cause of anxiety let’s look at how the disorder manifests itself.

There are three main types of anxiety that we would like to discuss today. These are not the only types of anxiety – if you are worried about the anxiety you are experiencing, you should talk to a doctor or mental health professional.

Anxiety is a complex issue, and it is possible to have more than one type of anxiety, especially if you have experienced a lot of trauma in your life.

Here are the three most common types of anxiety disorders:

Identify And Learn To Manage Your Triggers

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You can identify triggers on your own or with a therapist. Sometimes they can be obvious, like caffeine, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Other times they can be less obvious.

Long-term problems, such as financial or work-related situations, may take some time to figure out is it a due date, a person, or the situation? This may take some extra support, through therapy or with friends.

When you do figure out your trigger, you should try to limit your exposure if you can. If you cant limit it like if its due to a stressful work environment that you cant currently change using other coping techniques may help.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gad

GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. People with GAD may:

  • Worry very much about everyday things
  • Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness
  • Know that they worry much more than they should
  • Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Be easily startled
  • The health and well-being of their children
  • Being late
  • Completing household chores and other responsibilities

Both children and adults with GAD may experience physical symptoms that make it hard to function and that interfere with daily life.

Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and they are often worse during times of stress, such as with a physical illness, during exams at school, or during a family or relationship conflict.

Learn More About Social Anxiety

Information is the key to understanding. When you understand social anxiety disorder better, you will learn to manage it better. Information will teach you what goes on in your body when a panic attack hits or how your body reacts to perceived danger. It is a shame that many people with social anxiety do not seek medical treatment. In fact, most people do not even realise that they have this mental disorder. If you wish to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from social anxiety, educate yourself and learn to recognise its symptoms, causes, and management exercises.

Also Check: How To Help Calm Anxiety

The Start Of My Addiction

A few years later, I was working dutifully in my salaried job, filling my days with even more tasks and chores in the hope of escaping the nagging voice that never went quiet.

One night, my anxiety had become so intense that it oozed out into my body, causing my muscles to spasm so tightly that they pulled my rib cage out of place. With every breath, my ribs rubbed against the soft tissue on the inside of my chest, causing extreme pain, and even more anxiety.

Finally, I went to a doctor, desperately searching for relief. He was able to pop my ribs back into place, before prescribing me oxycodone for the pain and Xanax for the anxiety.

A lot of professionals would frown upon these prescriptions Im writing you, he said as he scribbled on his notepad. He looked up at me with a smirk and a twinkle in his eye.

But you seem like a responsible young man. He handed me the prescriptions and smiled.

At the time, I clung onto these prescription pills, hoping that theyd finally provide the relief I had never experienced. Little did I know that they would plunge me even further into my dark, tormented reality.

At first, these pills really helped. For the first time in my entire life, I couldnt be fussed about anything at all. Everything seemed perfectly acceptable, perfectly harmonious. To be honest, I cant think of any other time in my life, both before and since then, that Ive ever been so happy.

Naturally, I wanted to feel that way all of the time. So, it became a ritual.

Talk To Someone Friendly

Living With Anxiety: It Doesn

Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.

Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone that can watch over you.

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How To Do It

To practice 4-7-8 breathing, find a place to sit or lie down comfortably. Be sure you practice good posture, especially when starting out. If youre using the technique to fall asleep, lying down is best.

Prepare for the practice by resting the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your top front teeth. Youll need to keep your tongue in place throughout the practice. It takes practice to keep from moving your tongue when you exhale. Exhaling during 4-7-8 breathing can be easier for some people when they purse their lips.

The following steps should all be carried out in the cycle of one breath:

  • First, let your lips part. Make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.
  • Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.
  • Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath.
  • Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
  • When you inhale again, you initiate a new cycle of breath. Practice this pattern for four full breaths.

    The held breath is the most critical part of this practice. Its also recommended that you only practice 4-7-8 breathing for four breaths when youre first starting out. You can gradually work your way up to eight full breaths.

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