In this blog from Radiant Primary Care in Victorville, we offer strategies for coping with anxiety and depression during this Mental Health Awareness Month.
The Link Between Anxiety And Depression
Research has suggested that depression and anxiety, though distinct conditions, often co-occur. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in May 2020 found that genetics play a role in 40% of the likelihood of developing depressive and anxious symptoms, while the remaining 60% are attributed to environmental, non-inherited factors.
Environmental factors, or social factors, can contribute to the development of depression. Early childhood experiences such as trauma or neglect, as well as current issues like relationship problems, unemployment, social isolation, and physical illness can all be factors. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are particularly likely to experience depression.
Furthermore, chronic discomfort and disabling issues such as fibromyalgia, IBS, low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain are often connected to psychological distress, comprising of both anxiety and depression. Studies suggest that there are biological processes that bind pain to both anxiety and depression.
Ways To Cope With Anxiety
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, it might be beneficial to take a break from the situation. Going for a walk or doing a few minutes of yoga can help clear your head and relax your body. Exercise is a great way to improve your mood and reduce your worries.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal every day can be beneficial for many people. Writing has a calming effect, and it can help you to recognize when you are feeling anxious, how it affects you, and what causes it.
To identify your triggers, you can do it alone or with the help of a therapist. Some triggers are easy to recognize, like caffeine, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Others may not be as obvious, such as financial or work-related issues. Once you have identified a trigger, try to limit your exposure to it if possible. If you can’t control the trigger, like a stressful work environment, try using other coping techniques.
Breathing shallowly restricts the amount the diaphragm can expand and contract, resulting in a lack of oxygen in the lower lungs, which can lead to feeling breathless and anxious. In contrast, breathing deeply from the abdomen encourages the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and can slow down the heart rate and balance blood pressure.
Ways To Cope With Depression
Having a supportive network is essential to getting through depression. Trying to tackle this issue alone can be draining and even more difficult to keep a positive outlook. It can be hard to reach out for help since depression can make it hard to want to interact with family and friends. You may feel too exhausted to talk, embarrassed, or guilty for avoiding relationships. But these feelings are just a manifestation of depression. Staying connected to people and engaging in social activities can have a huge impact on your mood and outlook. Asking for help does not signify that you are weak or an inconvenience. Those who care for you only want to help.
Reach out to people who make you feel secure and loved. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to solve your problems; they just have to be a patient listener—someone who will listen carefully and sympathetically without being judgmental. Make sure to prioritize face-to-face contact. Even if you don’t feel like it, think about leaving the house and doing something.
You may be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t vanish immediately, you will gradually start to feel more excited and energetic as you set aside time for fun activities. Try taking up an old hobby or a sport you used to enjoy. Express your creative side through music, art, or writing. Hang out with your friends. Go on a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or to a ballpark.
Identifying and managing stress can be a great way to reduce and prevent depression. Analyze what in your life is leading to tension and find effective solutions. This could be anything from having too much work to do to financial issues or not having supportive relationships. Create a balanced schedule and practice relaxation techniques.
If you’re in need of a quick mood boost, try making a list of activities that you like to do that you can refer to when you’re feeling down. Having a few different strategies for dealing with depression can be a great help. Even when you’re feeling good, try to incorporate some of these activities into your daily routine. Some ideas include going for a walk in nature, writing down some of your positive qualities, reading a book, watching a funny show, taking a hot bath, meditating, playing with a pet, talking with friends or family in person, listening to music, and doing something fun and spontaneous.