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Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and Depression The feeling of anxiousness is one of the ways our bodies keeps us safe from danger, alerting us to a potential threat so we can take steps to avoid it. However, anxiety can become a disorder when it is difficult to control, affects our functioning, and makes it challenging to cope with otherwise “normal” challenges. Someone with anxiety might often feel very worried, tense, agitated and panicky. Anxiety can also manifest physically through dizziness, trembling, sweating, or sleep problems.

In addition, one may also have thoughts like “I can’t focus on anything but my worries”, “I feel like I might die”, “I can’t calm myself down”, or “everything’s going to go wrong”. Experts believe anxiety to be caused by a combination of, rather than an isolated cause. One of these is thought to be biological – genetics, brain chemistry (neurotransmitters not functioning normally), and personality traits such as being a perfectionist or highly sensitive.

Another cause of anxiety could be trauma, or other factors such as substance abuse or withdrawal. Occasionally feeling down or sad is a normal response to events like loss or other difficult circumstances, and these usually get better over time. However, clinical depression involves a consistently low mood, intense feelings of sadness for more than two weeks, and affects daily functioning. Individuals experiencing depression might feel numb, hopeless, exhausted, guilty, and withdrawn, and experience changes in their weight, motivation, and ability to experience enjoyment and pleasure.

Having trouble concentrating, experiencing suicidal ideation and being very self-critical may also indicate depression. Finally, someone experiencing depression might also think thoughts such as “it’s all my fault”, “life is too hard” or “I’m no good”. Similar to anxiety, the contributing factors to depression can be biological (i.e. genetics), personality traits such as being personally reserved or self-critical, ageing, stress, or a combination of these.

Depression can happen at any stage of life, and presents differently in different age groups. Whether your feelings of anxiety and depression are passing or more enduring, therapy can be part of a multi-pronged support plan for you. For those whose mental health concerns are milder, therapy can serve as a protective factor against the progression to clinical depression and anxiety, through the provision of formal social support and enhancing your coping mechanisms. However, regardless of the extent of your concerns, therapy addressing the whole person – spirit, mind, body and emotion will likely be beneficial. It seeks to equip one with the tools to identify and cope with triggers, enable greater self-awareness and self-acceptance, and improve health and wellbeing.

Anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions in Australia – up to a third of women and a fifth of men experience anxiety at some point in their lifetime, while 1 in 16 are impacted by depression. If you think you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, seek support. It’s ok to not feel ok, but don’t go it alone