According to The National Institute of Mental Health, 18.1% of the adult US population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Women make up 60% of that population. In 2015, 16.1 million adults experienced a major depressive episode, also according to the NIMH. Half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Again, women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
These are the most reliable resources for overcoming anxiety and dealing with depression.
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Lucky us!!!! I have dealt with Depression for 20 years now, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder got thrown in there somewhere along the way. I am blessed to have a strong support system to help me through the really hard times. Yet, I know that even for my support team, my illness is hard to understand. My husband has figured out that one doesn’t need to actually understand how a person with Depression and/or Anxiety feel in order to help, love, and support them. Some people persist that until they can actually understand what I feel, that maybe I will just “get over it” one day.
I thought it would be important for me to compile this information into one post so that those of you who suffer from depression and/or anxiety can have a one-stop resource you can show to all of your well-meaning but “unenlightened” friends and family.
The following information comes directly from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) website.
Dealing with Depression
What is Depression?
First, it is important to define depression. Major depression disorder or clinical depression are common and serious mood disorder. We are not talking about the normal ebb and flow of emotions that we all experience. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Second, it is important to understand what the symptoms of depression look like.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
How is Depression Treated?
Finally, the treatment plan for depression can be prescribed and initiated. There are several options for the treatment of depression which can stand alone but most often are used in conjunction.
Also. . .
Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one during treatment for depression:
- Try to be active and exercise.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
- Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- Continue to educate yourself about depression
I have been on several different medications through the years. My first anti-depressants were prescribed by our family doctor. I moved out of state and found a new general practitioner. The first time I met with her, she advised me to stop taking my current anti-depressants and switch to a new medicine. ALERT: Never just “stop” taking one antidepressant all of a sudden. I had terrible withdrawal symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, and severe headache. It hit me all of a sudden during the school day when I was teaching. Another teacher friend had to drive me to the doctor during our planning period.
LESSON: If you are going to be on an anti-depressant, do yourself a favor and see a specialist (psychiatrist). They are incredibly familiar with each of the classes of medications and are keenly more aware of side effects and successful management therapies.
*Related to my clinical depression, I have always been greatly affected by the cloudy days of winter. This is known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even as a child, I remember many weekends of melancholy during the cold winter months. One of the most helpful therapies I have tried for SAD is light therapy. Before you purchase a light therapy box, check with your doctor. You can even get a light therapy box on Amazon!
What is the definition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
First, you need to understand the definition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve MORE than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Next, being able to recognize the symptoms of an anxiety disorder is integral.
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or having your mind go blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling the worry
- Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treated?
Once a doctor has rendered a diagnosis, different treatment options can be discussed. What works for one person may not work for the next. Unfortunately, finding the best treatment for your anxiety disorder can be tricky. That is why it is imperative that you seek the counsel of a specialist and not just rely on your general practitioner or ob/gyn.
Psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders.
ADAA is an international non-profit organization “dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depressive, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-related disorders through education, practice, and research.” It was founded in 1979 (two years after I was born! Woohoo!)
“We face disability, disease and mental illness together”
This site, founded by Mike Porath, has a collection of real stories from people who suffer these very real diseases-not just depression and anxiety, but also Autism, Disabilities, Mental Illness, Chronic Illness, and Rare Diseases.
Blogs form communities, educate, and increase awareness.
Healthline is a website that also has a wealth of information on an even wider array of health topics.
They published an article, “The 17 Best Depression Blogs of 2016.”
This is an amazing collection of blogs. From a blog that is written by a mental health professional that also suffers from depression and anxiety, to an award-winning investigative reporter with depression, alcoholism, and bipolar, to a blog devoted to lawyers with depression, there will definitely be an interesting and beneficial blog connection for you!
I can personally recommend a workbook that my current (and favorite) psychiatrist recommended to me years ago. The book is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and I benefitted immensely from using it.
I was not aware of the Anxiety workbook version until I researched for this article. I can only imagine it would also be an invaluable resource in helping you deal with an anxiety disorder.
Currently, my depression and anxiety are under control. I feel like I am mostly leading the quality of life I want. Is say mostly because there are still blips that come up on the radar from time to time. I have to take care of myself and be proactive in my treatment. Over the years, I have developed many coping skills and habits (which you can read about here). A large motivation for starting my blog was to share what I have learned, provide encouragement, and increase awareness of depression and anxiety. Through all of challenges, God has really “tested my mettle” and I am so proud of who I have become. I say this not to be boastful, but to assure you that mental illness does not take away your value or what you have to offer the world.
So go forth and shout, “Mental Illness. . .BRING. IT. ON!!!!
What have been the most helpful therapies for you in dealing with depression and/or overcoming anxiety? Please comment below!
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