Anxiety and depression, two diseases of our time

Anxiety and depression are the two great ills of our society when it comes to mental health. It is estimated that around 10% of Spaniards suffer from one of these disorders.

But, did you know that these two pathologies can be closely related?

DEPRESSION  VS  ANXIETY

Depression is often confused with being sad or having a “bad time.” However, depression is characterized by having feelings of anxiety and/or sadness, apathy, or irritability most of the time, even if there is no apparent cause. It is also related to other symptoms, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite disorders
  • Stomach or intestinal discomfort
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feelings of loneliness.
  •  Continual tiredness, etc.

Anxiety disorder includes symptoms that can vary greatly from one person to another. It is not just the  feeling of nervousness, but symptoms such as:

  • Intense, often irrational worries and fears.
  • Feeling of imminent danger, panic, or catastrophe.
  • Sudden episodes of fear or terror ( panic attacks ).
  • Phobias
  • Social anxiety and avoidance of certain situations that can trigger discomfort …

TRIGGERS OF ANXIETY

Disorders such as depression or anxiety can appear without apparent cause, usually have their origin in life circumstances that have not been adequately resolved, or cause serious stress on an ongoing basis.

Sometimes, they can appear in specific circumstances that can be resolved spontaneously. For example, in the face of the loss of a job, a sentimental breakup, a move, and other situations of sudden or unwanted change.

However,  chronic stress is often the result of vital circumstances that the affected person cannot remedy. For example, it is common among people who care for a dependent patient or are in a social or economic exclusion situation. An exceptional case in which the entire population has been affected to a greater or lesser extent is that of the situation created by COVID-19. Since the crisis began and especially because of the confinement measures, the symptoms of depression and anxiety have increased in the Spanish population, affecting to some extent up to 1 in 5 people.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

These two pathologies can coexist in many cases. As we have seen,  anxiety can present itself as a symptom of clinical depression.  In fact, more than 50% of depressive patients have anxiety. But it can also happen that depression is triggered by an anxiety disorder, as in the case of generalized anxiety disorder. Especially if it is not treated properly and the situation is maintained for a long time.

The good news is that help from mental health professionals is very effective in containing and reversing these symptoms. With proper treatment, you can prevent anxiety and depression from taking over your life.

So, if you have some of the symptoms mentioned above, do not minimize them: do not hesitate to ask for help before the situation becomes chronic or evolves into a depressive state.

HOW TO PREVENT ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

The two disorders are closely related and can be prevented and treated with very similar guidelines. Treatment of both conditions will consist of lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and the use of medications if deemed necessary by the doctor, as well as.

To stop these disorders, the following tips can be put into practice:

  • Change as much as possible those situations that cause continued stress. For example, seeking family support to care for a sick person.
  • Improve sleeping habits.
  • Seek social and emotional support, for example in the family or a group of friends with whom you share hobbies and interests.
  • Perform physical activity regularly, better if it is in a group.
  • Avoid the consumption of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Although they may appear to provide temporary relief, they actually worsen the symptoms and prognosis of depression and anxiety disorders, as well as may interfere with treatment.

SEEK HELP

Many life circumstances can be stressful and put a strain on our mental health. At this historical moment, we are also experiencing a social situation created by the SARS-CoV2 virus that is proving to be a global challenge, not only for physical health but also for mental health.

If you suffer from some of the symptoms described at the beginning, it is advisable to seek professional help. Although there is still a certain taboo around mental health and some people believe that they are things that “happen by themselves”, think about it as if it were any other illness. If you had pain or other physical symptoms, you would go to the doctor, right?

The family doctor is the appropriate professional to carry out the first assessment of your condition. Depending on the characteristics of the patient, their symptoms, and expectations, this professional can fully assume the treatment of the patient, or refer at first or in subsequent evaluations to psychiatry or psychology, for a more specific treatment. In addition, it will help you detect the initial cause of anxiety or depression (if any) and will recommend some changes in your lifestyle to help you deal with its symptoms.

 

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