How To Get A Clinical Diagnosis
Theres no single test that can diagnose depression or anxiety. Instead, your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam and a depression or anxiety screening test. For this, theyll ask you a series of questions that help them get a better insight into what youve been experiencing.
If the results arent clear or if your doctor suspects the symptoms may be the result of another condition, they may order tests to rule out underlying issues. Blood tests can check your thyroid, vitamin, and hormone levels.
In some cases, general practitioners will refer you to a mental health expert, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, if they dont feel equipped to properly manage your symptoms and conditions or if they suspect youre experiencing more than one condition.
Although depression and anxiety are two separate conditions, they share many of the same treatments. A combination of these may be used to treat both conditions at the same time.
Am I A Bad Christian Because I Deal With Anxiety Or Depression
Written bySari Faith
Sari Faith, former Director of Counselling and Health Services at Briercrest, dismantles lies about mental illness in this special Bell Let’s Talk Day post.
“Am I a bad Christian because I deal with anxiety or depression?”
Its a question I get asked often as a counselling psychologist at a Christian college and seminary.
Maybe not outright. Sometimes its phrased as wrestling with faith when a client feels helpless and hopeless. Sometimes its a frustration with verses about not worrying or having hope when they long to feel that way and are crying out to God.
Sometimes its a shame in attending church or chapel when their hands are shaking or there is a sob just being contained behind their withdrawn expression.
I see it too in a reluctance to talk about struggles that we associate with a non-Christian lifestyle. Before my time at Briercrest, I worked at a Primary Care medical clinic. It was a place where individuals who dont have a family doctor could come for medical care. Naturally, the clients that I saw there came from all different backgrounds, ages, and stages.
If this adds to our suffering, why do we do it?
In my practice, it breaks my heart to see the shame clients carry around because they wrestle with anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness. They dont want people to know. They dont want people to judge. They are fearful fellow students or churchgoers will judge them.
Sadly, sometimes its because they have been judged.
Tips To Avoid Depression And Anxiety
If youâre at risk for depression or anxiety, youâll want to do everything you can to prevent them, just as you would with any other serious medical condition:
Consider starting counseling proactively. Finding a therapist before thereâs a problem can help you learn skills to manage situations that could trigger anxiety or depression. Tell them about your familyâs history of these or other conditions. If you want a referral, ask your doctor.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Theyâre in some fish , flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds. These fats are needed for brain health.
- B vitamins. People with low B vitamin levels are more likely to develop depression. Foods that contain B vitamins include green vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, meat, eggs, and other animal products.
- Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, but itâs not clear if they actually cause it. Your body makes vitamin D if you get some time in the sun, or you can get it from fortified foods or supplements.
Limit added sugars. Foods that naturally have sugar in them, like fruit, will keep your bodyâs energy at a more constant level.
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Teen Anxiety And Depression Are Treatable
One of the most encouraging aspects of teen anxiety is that although it is so common, varied, and terrible, it is also one of the most treatable mental or emotional disorders. Thats why its so tragic that a 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20 percent of young people with a diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment.10
Depression is more stubborn to remove, but, theres still much that can be done. God has provided many ways to heal these agonies or help your teen to manage and handle them better. As parents, pastors, teachers, and counselors, we have a great opportunity to reach out to our suffering teens and help them access help, as well as play a role in providing help ourselves. One of the first steps in becoming a resource for our suffering teens is understanding whats actually happening in these disorders.
What Kind Of Anxiety Disorder Do You Have
As with every health issue, an accurate diagnosis is essential. A few common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: A pattern of excessive worry about a variety of issues on most days for at least six months, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, a hammering heart, or dizziness.
- Social anxiety disorder: Feeling significant anxiety in social situations or when called on to perform in front of others, such as in public speaking.
- Phobias: A particular animal, insect, object, or situation causes substantial anxiety.
- Panic disorder: Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of heart-banging fear, breathlessness, and dread. Its the feeling youd have if you just missed being hit by a Mack truck but for people with panic disorder there is no Mack truck, says Dr. Beresin.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and that do not ease even with treatment
- Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Over 60% Of Our Brains Are Comprised Of Fat And This Fat Needs To Be Maintained Otherwise Our Brain Suffers Greatly In This Case The Lack Of Fat Can Manifest In Conditions Such As Anxiety And Depression
Sarah Conklin, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, explains:
We were able to show that individuals who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets had more gray matter volume in areas of the brain important for regulating mood.
These results suggest that these specific fats, certainly not fat in general, may confer a protective effect against depression and other mood-related problems.
There are many studies that have delved into this topic and explored further the effects of dietary requirements on our mental health, particularly when compared to our ancestors. They are certainly fascinating reads, but can they be used to improve our lifestyle today?
Its yet to be explored. For now, Id recommend sticking to a wholesome diet and working on anxiety and depression through modern-day conventional methods, but who knows, one day our diets may return to the way our ancestors once ate.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe that our diets can affect our mental health? Why do you think our ancestors didnt have the problems we have today?
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Physical Signs Of Anxiety
The physical state of anxiety can be conceptualized overall as that of heightened arousal. Specific characteristics include:
- Difficulty concentrating due to state of agitation or racing thoughts
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep due to racing thoughts or other physical symptoms
Depression is primarily characterized by changes in usual physical processes from baseline, such as:
- Difficulty with concentration, focus, and memory due to ruminative thought processes or other physical symptoms
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite or a significant increase in appetite
- Moving or talking more slowly than usual
- Physical achiness without cause
- Sleeping much more or much less than is typical due to ruminative thought processes or low energy
What Are The Different Types Of Depression
Two common forms of depression are:
- Major depression, which includes symptoms of depression most of the time for at least 2 weeks that typically interfere with ones ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.
- Persistent depressive disorder , which often includes less severe symptoms of depression that last much longer, typically for at least 2 years.
Other forms of depression include:
- Perinatal depression, which occurs when a woman experiences major depression during pregnancy or after delivery .
- Seasonal affective disorder, which comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in late fall and early winter and going away during spring and summer.
- Depression with symptoms of psychosis, which is a severe form of depression where a person experiences psychosis symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations .
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder also experience depression.
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Truth: You Can Still Grow Spiritually If You Have Struggled With Mental Health
In addition to accessing professional mental health services, there are ways that we can seek discipleship during a mental health struggle.
One thing I have noticed in my own life and mental health struggles is that when I have not felt the presence of God, I have had to learn how to grow in other ways.
I have walked through periods of grief where I felt absolutely numb. In those times, I had to lean on my faith in more an act of bravery than of certainty.
During those times, I learned from my peers around me that there were other ways to continue developing as a Christian. For me, this meant learning spiritual discipline, intentionally studying the bible, and seeking after God when I didnt feel Him near. I refused to isolate myself, joining a small group so that people I didnt know got to know me.
Finally, serving others has been the best thing for my mental wellbeing. It has helped to shift my focus outwards rather than inwards, which feels refreshing and erodes away the sense of isolation and purposelessness.
Our minds are incredibly complex, and while I am not saying that simply changing how you think will make every mental illness vanish, there are many things we can do to improve our mental wellbeing.
Not only does the Bible normalize mental illness and injury, it also tells us what we can do about it. On top of that, the instruction in the Bible is supported by mental research of today.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
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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 Is The Link Between Smoking And Mental Health Conditions
Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, than in the general population.6 About 3 out of every 10 cigarettes smoked by adults in the United States are smoked by persons with mental health conditions.6 Why smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is uncertain. More research is needed to determine this. No matter the cause smoking is not a treatment for depression or anxiety. Getting help for your depression and anxiety and quitting smoking is the best way to feel better.
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Negative Stereotypes Often Keep You From Talking About Your Experience
My clients who deal with depression and anxiety yearn for someone to connect with who genuinely understands their struggles and feelings of isolation. But the fear of letting people down or being viewed in a different light often keeps them from reaching out for support and assistance. Erica N. Reed, a licensed clinical social worker in Lanham, Maryland
Living With Both Conditions Can Cause Physical Symptoms
My biggest issue is with sleep. There are days when I constantly feel tired but I cant fall asleep because my mind is wired Im constantly overthinking. My conditions are well managed now, after therapy and antidepressants, but there are still tough days. The physical symptoms dont always go away. I experience a lot of tightness in my chest and stomach aches from anxiety. Those things lend themselves to a depressive episode so it feels like a never-ending cycle some days. Alex Kuntz, 25, a public relations professional in Minneapolis
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