How To Cope With Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Heres what you need to know if they strike simultaneously.
Do you sometimes worry so much that it interferes with your everyday activities? Or feel so blue that it completely clouds your outlook? Do you often experience these or similar feelings together? Youre not the only one.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , anxiety disorders which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder are the most common mental health problem among U.S. adults, affecting 18.1 percent of the population each year. And mood disorders which include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder are the leading cause of disability.
Moreover, the incidence of developing depression in addition to an anxiety disorder or vice versa is high. Many people with major depression also suffer from severe and persistent anxiety, notes Sally R. Connolly, LCSW, in Louisville, Kentucky. And some experts estimate that 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness .
RELATED: Black Mental Health: Fighting Stigma and Building Trust
Try Some Aerobic Activity
During periods of anxiety, your body is filled with adrenaline. Putting that adrenaline toward aerobic activity can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise has numerous advantages for controlling your anxiety symptoms:
- Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension.
- Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can improve overall mood.
- Exercise is linked to healthier breathing.
- Exercise is a healthy distraction.
Aerobic activity, like light jogging or even fast walking, can be extremely effective at reducing the severity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the anxiety itself.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind too!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
Don’t Miss: How Severe Is My Anxiety
Practice Mindfulness Meditation And Relaxation
Mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, which may allow you to feel less worried. Plus, it only takes a few minutes each day to feel a difference. Use this time to be aware of whats going on in your mind and body. Start with five minutes a day and work your way up to mindful moments several times a day.
To help you get started, listen to a guided meditation, or recorded breathing exercises. Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you will find more focus and awareness throughout the day.
Limit Or Avoid Caffeine
Theres a reason you rely on that morning cup of joe to help you get ready for the day. But besides boosting wakefulness, caffeine also activates your autonomic nervous system and puts your fight-or-flight response on standby. Caffeine can increase anxiety on its own, and people with anxiety disorders tend to be more susceptible to its effects.
Recommended Reading: How Much Can Anxiety Raise Blood Pressure
Why Does It Happen At Night
Anxiety is a normal human emotion characterized by feelings of nervousness and worry. You may find yourself experiencing anxiety during stressful situations, such as a first date or job interview.
Sometimes, though, anxiety may linger around for longer than usual. When this happens, it can interfere with your daily and nightly life.
One of the most common times when people experience anxiety is at night. Many clinical trials have found that sleep deprivation can be a trigger for anxiety. Historically, research also suggests anxiety disorders are associated with reduced sleep quality.
Treating your nighttime anxiety and addressing your sleep issues are important steps in improving your quality of life.
There are manysymptoms of anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Symptoms can happen anytime of the day, morning, or night. Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or worry
- trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- gastrointestinal problems
Another symptom a person with anxiety may also experience is a panic attack. A panic attack is an episode of extreme and intense fear, often accompanied by physical manifestations. The common symptoms of a panic attack include:
- a sense of impending doom
- increased heart rate and chest pains
- shortness of breath and throat tightness
- sweating, chills, and hot flashes
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- a feeling of detachment, or like nothing is real
Ask About Your Thoughts
The next step is to ask yourself whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. Look at what you’re saying to yourself. Does the evidence support your negative thought? Some of your self-talk may be true. Or it may be partly true but exaggerated.
One of the best ways to see if you are worrying too much is to look at the odds. What are the odds, or chances, that the bad thing you are worried about will happen? If you have a job review that has one small criticism among many compliments, what are the odds that you really are in danger of losing your job? The odds are probably low.
There are several kinds of irrational thoughts. Here are a few types to look for:
Recommended Reading: Can Hypnosis Help With Anxiety And Depression
How Anxiety Affects You
Individual symptoms of anxiety are things we all experience from time-to-time.
If you experience more than one of the following, over a couple of weeks or longer, you may need some extra support.
Physical effects of anxiety
- Dry mouth and/or difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty getting to and staying asleep
- Poor concentration
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Sweating or trembling
- A flare-up of another health problem or illness
- Sexual problems, such as not having any sexual feelings or no interest in sex
Some common ways anxiety can affect your behaviour and feelings
- Irritability or always being in a bad mood
- Having a strong urge to avoid situations that could trigger your anxiety
- Worry or always feeling that something bad is about to happen
- Asking a lot of needless questions and needing constant reassurance
- Being a perfectionist
- Being pessimistic and focusing on what may go wrong in any given situation
Tips To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
If you are the parent of a college-aged child with an anxiety disorder, here are some tips to help with managing his or her anxiety.
Read Also: Is There Different Types Of Anxiety
Supporting Someone With Anxiety Or Depression
There are ways that you can help someone with anxiety or depression. It may be helpful to:
- let them know if youve noticed a change in their behaviour
- spend time talking about their experiences and let them know youre there to listen without being judgmental
- help them to get information from a website, library or community health centre
- suggest they go to a doctor or health professional, and help them to make an appointment
- offer to go with them to their appointment and follow up with them afterwards
- encourage them to get enough sleep, to exercise and to eat well
- encourage family and friends to invite them out and keep in touch, but dont pressure them to participate in activities
- contact a doctor or hospital if they become a threat to themselves or others.
It is unhelpful to:
- put pressure on them by telling them to snap out of it or get their act together
- stay away or avoid them
- tell them they just need to stay busy or get out more
- pressure them to party more or wipe out how theyre feeling with drugs and alcohol
- assume the problem will just go away.
If you or someone you know needs support, talk to a doctor or other health professional about getting appropriate treatment.
How Do I Know If I Have Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal reaction to many things in life that may cause us to feel threatened, challenged or under pressure. Feeling anxious from time to time is no great cause for concern. However, if you experience persistent anxiety that feels overwhelming, unforgettable and interferes with your daily life, you may be dealing with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Always reach out to a mental health professional for expert advice on whether your symptoms meet the criteria for a diagnosis.
Also Check: How To Help 4 Year Old With Anxiety
Understand The Connection Between Anxiety And Depression
While not a specific strategy, understanding the connection between anxiety and depression can help you determine if what youre dealing with is temporary or a sign of something more serious.
According to Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, anxiety and depression are intertwined and frequently exacerbate each other. Part of the reason, she said, is because the same neurochemicals are implicated in both conditions.
More specifically, MD, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, explained that since decreased serotonin causes both depression and anxiety, its common for someone with depression to also feel anxious at the same time. Thats why its critical to acknowledge feelings of anxiety and share them with an expert, especially if youve been diagnosed with depression or are showing signs of depression.
Who Is This Anxiety Quiz For
Below is a list of questions designed for people who are experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder .
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
Read Also: How To Stop Symptoms Of Anxiety
Not Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a cycle that starts when you become anxious. Anxiety is caused by feeling worried and stressed by certain things in your life.
Then, being anxious & stressed all the time leads to feeling fatigued and burnt out.
When you reach burn out mode, taking care of yourself goes out the window.
This is when we tend to reach for the comfort food and do whatever we can to get by. We ignore our needs in order to survive.
Its time to put a stop to this! Youre the only one who can end the cycle.
That starts with deciding to put yourself first and making a daily commitment to do something that benefits you in some way. If you need help creating habits to take care of yourself, check out this 30-day self-care plan.
Not Being Able To Sit Still
If you’ve noticed that you can’t sit still to save your life â maybe you tap your foot, squirm in your chair, etc. â it may be a sign of anxiety. “Diffuse, whispering anxiety can cause a level of restlessness and tension that can be hard to identify,” Dr. Clark says. “Boredom and restlessness are states of tension and low-grade anxiety.”
Read Also: How To Sleep Better With Anxiety
Anxiety And Negative Thoughts
- Anxiety can both cause and be caused by Bad thoughts.
- Worrying is perhaps the most common symptom of most forms of anxiety.
- Some conditions, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, are caused by unwanted thoughts.
- We address several techniques to help relieve some of those bad thoughts.
- It is recommended not to try to stop the thoughts, as pushing them away often makes them worse.
Set Small Achievable Goals
Anxiety sufferers tend to set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. To counteract this tendency, set goals that you can easily accomplish. This builds your confidence and your sense of accomplishment.
When you are learning skills to handle stress and reduce your anxiety, small steps work best. For example, if your goal is to integrate deep breathing into your life, start by practicing for one-minute intervals three or four times a day instead of for an hour all at once.
Setting small, achievable goals will help will take you farther than you can imagine over time. It will help you reach your final destination: a happier, low-anxiety life.
Recommended Reading: How To Treat Anxiety Disorder
How Can I Calm My Anxiety Fast
Medication is an option for long-term anxiety. But, they are not always an instant fix. Anti-anxiety medications, such as Ativan, Klonopin, or Xanax, can work quicklywithin minutes or hours. Antidepressant medications, sometimes used to treat anxiety, can take a few weeks to reach maximum effectiveness. As Heathman explains, Medication can take much longer to work as medication must be ingested, digested, absorbed, and then transferred in the bloodstream.
If youre experiencing anxiety for the first time or youre having an unexpected spike of anxiety, there are some techniques you can employ in the moment to help with your developing symptoms. Sudden onset anxiety is best controlled with relaxation techniques, Heathman says, which can work instantly after being employed. Some calming strategies include:
All of these techniques work by changing your brains focus, so that anxiety symptoms can pass. One of the keys to calming anxiety is also recognizing when and why it is happening. If you can sense that it is spiking, Saxena explains, then you can challenge yourself to use the same thought pattern to understand that it is a passing feeling.