Depression & Anxiety

Some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward. If you have diabetes, you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you have surgery. But depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.

Causes and risk factors for depression:
▪ Loneliness
▪ Lack of social support
▪ Recent stressful life experiences
▪ Family history of depression
▪ Marital or relationship 
problems
▪ Financial strain
▪ Early childhood trauma or abuse
▪ Alcohol or drug abuse
▪ Unemployment or underemployment
▪ Health problems or chronic pain

Understanding the underlying cause of your depression may help you overcome the problem. For example, if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling lonely and sad, finding new friends at 
work or through a hobby will probably give you more of a mood boost than going to therapy. In such cases, the depression is remedied by changing the situation. Just as the symptoms and causes of depression are different in different people, so are the ways to feel better. What works for one person might not work for another, and no one treatment is appropriate in all cases. If you recognize the signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, take some time to explore the many treatment options. In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building, and professional help. If even the thought of tackling your depression seems overwhelming, don’t panic. Feeling helpless and hopeless is a symptom of depression—not the reality of your situation. It does not mean that you’re weak or you can’t change!

The key to depression recovery is to start small and ask for help. Effective treatment for depression often includes some form of therapy. Therapy gives you tools to treat depression from a variety of angles. Also, what you learn in therapy gives you skills and insight to prevent depression from coming back.

We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness. Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at 
all—instead, they feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief. Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won't go away, it may be depression. More than just the temporary "blues," the lows of depression 
make it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Hobbies and friends don’t interest you like they used to; you’re exhausted all the time; and just getting through the day can be overwhelming. When you’re depressed, things may feel hopeless.

Access Wellness Group can help.

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
▪ you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
▪ you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
▪ you feel hopeless and helpless
▪ you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
▪ you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
▪ you are much more irritable and short-tempered than usual
▪ you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)


Common signs and symptoms of depression
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
Irritability or restlessness. Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge. Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making pass it exam
 decisions, or remembering things.
Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression comes in many shapes and forms. The different types of depression have unique symptoms, causes, and effects. Knowing what type of depression you have can help you manage your symptoms and get the most effective treatment.


ANXIETY

Anxiety is a general term which describes symptoms such as nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress in most circumstances. It helps one deal with tense situations at home or at work, studying harder for an exam, keeping focused on an important speech or presentation, negotiate rush hour traffic. Basically, it can help one to cope.

However, anxiety can become disabling, leading to excessive, irrational dread and fear of everyday situations.  Persons with anxiety disorders experience anxiety which is often unrealistic or out of proportion to a situation. The source of anxiety is not always known or recognized, but can often be associated with constant worry about health, money, work, school or relationships. Symptoms of anxiety can significantly affect an individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. In addition to worrying and feelings of fear, anxiety can be accompanied by many physical symptoms including:
 
Sleeping difficulties and nightmares
Muscle tension, headaches
Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing
Nausea
Diarrhea
Frequent urination
Sweating
Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing
Twitching or trembling
Rapid or irregular heart rate
Rapid breathing
Dizziness
Fatigue
Sexual problems

Other possible symptoms:

Irritability
Anger
Decreased concentration
Being easily startled
Restlessness or feeling “on edge”

Causes of anxiety disorders can include ongoing and intense daily stressors related to work, relationships, school or financial problems; trauma and stressful events such as past abuse; death of a loved one; divorce; changing jobs or schools; or use of or withdrawal from addictive substances such as alcohol, pain pills, nicotine or caffeine.
Research has also identified hereditary factors in anxiety disorders. A history of anxiety in family members may increase the likelihood of an individual developing a similar disorder. Anxiety disorders can also be caused by an imbalance of certain brain chemicals which can affect how a person reacts to stress. Certain physical conditions such as thyroid imbalance, diabetes, chronic pain as well as medications used to treat medical problems can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety.

Treatment of anxiety disorders includes various approaches. Medications can help with reducing symptoms of anxiety. Working with a therapist can help to identify sources of anxiety, process past and current stressors and assist in the development of effective coping skills. Research has shown that a combination of medication and therapy leads to best outcomes.

Call a professional at Access Wellness Group today. We can help.