By Jordan Nonte, MSW, LSW, Youth First, Inc.
We’ve all felt sad at some point in our lives, we’ve all felt anxious, but at what point do these emotions go from normal to disruptive? You may be wondering why anxiety and depression often get lumped together. How are these two related?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, half of all people diagnosed with depression will also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of mental illnesses in the US, affecting 40 million adults, while 17 million suffer from depression. Anxiety and depression are very treatable, but only about a third of people seek treatment.
So when should you seek treatment for anxiety or depression? And what is anxiety and depression? Typically, anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness, possibly due to an uncertain event or outcome. This is a completely normal response, especially before participating in events such as a big test, sports game, or public speaking. This feeling becomes an issue when the worry is disproportionate to the situation at hand or is unnecessarily present.
Some affected by anxiety may be obsessively worrying about an event or idea that is utterly unrealistic, such as a loved one being in danger at that very moment. It is then, when the feeling becomes a constant despite the truth about reality, that it is no longer helpful—but problematic to daily living.
Depression, on the other hand, is typically defined as persistent sadness. Symptoms may include decreased mood, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, loss of interest in hobbies/pleasurable activities, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, irritability, difficulty focusing, or suicidal ideation. Anyone at any age can be depressed, and not everyone will experience all the same symptoms.
Some risk factors of depression include family history of depression, traumatic life events, stress, or a major life change such as giving birth or the passing of a loved one. This feeling of sadness may become problematic when a person feels as though they cannot complete their regular daily tasks at work, school, or home. They may struggle just to take care of themselves every day, and have trouble finding motivation to eat, shower, or brush their teeth to name a few.
If you think you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, what should you do? Do not hesitate to call your family physician. Your doctor will want to assess your physical and mental symptoms before deciding on some treatment options. Some people may also experience physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, heart palpitations, chest pain, and headaches that can be linked to anxiety or depression.
Some treatments may include psychotherapy, medication, relaxation techniques, or self-help practices. It’s important to get help early to decrease the chances of thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Just remember, you are not alone, and there are many options for treatment. Start feeling like you again!