How to help feelings of depression and anxiety

Sleepless nights. Heart palpitations. Feeling down. Irritability. These symptoms can all be linked to either depression, or anxiety. Since these conditions often overlap, it’s useful to know how and why:

Depression vs Hand Economic. anxiety

  • Depression is feeling sad and hopeless. Anxiety is feeling fearful or panicked in situations where most people wouldn’t feel anxious or threatened.
  • Depression is regretting the past and being preoccupied with what should have been. Anxiety is worrying about the future and what could be.
  • Depression makes you not care. Anxiety makes you fret unnecessarily.
  • Depression is having no energy and feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks. Anxiety is having nervous energy and living in constant worry.
  • Depression is thinking and believing the worst. Anxiety is fearing the worst.

Why it gets confusing
Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. People with anxiety may feel depressed from the effects of how the condition is interfering with their lives, and those with depression may have symptoms of anxiety like insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. This may explain why the two are frequently confused. Still, each disorder has its own symptoms and causes. There’s no evidence that one disorder causes the other, but you can suffer from both at the same time.

Anxiety and depression are also often treated in the same way. Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat anxiety, which may lead some people to think they have depression.

Help at hand
Since depression and anxiety commonly occur together, they are treated similarly. Both disorders can be treated with medication, talk therapy or a combination of the two.

Medications may include:

  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors to improve mood and ease anxiety. These are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.
  • Anxiolytics to reduce anxiety and tension. These may also help if you have sleeping problems.
  • Antipsychotics to boost the effectiveness of antidepressants.

Different types of talk therapy can be used to treat depression and anxiety. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy to help you think more positively and modify negative or harmful behaviours and emotional responses.
  • Psychotherapy to help understand yourself better, find the cause of your difficulties, improve relationships, and get more out of life.
  • Group therapy to help you realise you’re not alone, and where you can get support and advice from people who have the same problem as you.
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Self-care
Whether you have depression, anxiety or both, it’s important to take care of yourself.

  • Eat feel-good foods like fish, turkey, cheese, eggs, and nuts to boost your serotonin levels.
  • Get seven to eight hours of good-quality sleep every night. Sleep allows your brain to consolidate memories and process information. Research shows that a lack of sleep may activate brain regions that cause excessive worrying.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Try walking, jogging or swimming.
  • Practise meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help alleviate anxiety and stress.
  • Use music therapy for natural relief from anxiety and depression. This treatment entails listening, singing and moving to music to improve your physical, psychological, and social wellbeing.
  • Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them better, and help you gain control of your emotions.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs as they can worsen your symptoms and make your disorder more difficult to treat.
  • Need quick relief? Learn to ground yourself. Look around you. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This will help calm your mind when you feel like you’ve lost control of your surroundings.

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