Depression and anxiety are usually a packaged deal. Most often, someone experiencing depression will also experience stress or anxiety to a certain degree, the pressure of stress alongside the helpless that usually characterizes depression.
Known as a common example of “co-occurring disorders,” anxiety and depression can surface simultaneously, with compounded effects that make them more difficult to deal with.
Depression, a recognized health issue that has negative implications on emotions, outlook and sense of self, can actively impede your productivity and self-confidence alike. Often manifesting itself beside depression, anxiety – the sense of unease or nervousness that makes relaxation more difficult and confidence more elusive – can further compound those same negative, depressive feelings. Together, depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on overall self-esteem, until individuals who experience them simultaneously feel like only shells of their former selves.
Here’s the good news: while you may not be able to control whether or not you experience depression or anxiety, there are several actions you can take that will decrease their negative effects. Through a combination of professional medical advice and easy, at-home techniques, you can again begin to pursue a healthy, happy, active lifestyle, even during those moments when you can feel depression and anxiety weighing heavy on your outlook.
How are depression and anxiety related?
Before we get to proven coping mechanisms for depression and anxiety alike, let’s dive into the relationship between both issues. At their core, both depression and anxiety share many of the same symptoms, root causes and effects on the human body. First, both depression and anxiety can appear without warning, and can obviously linger far longer than we would otherwise like them to stay.
Both can also impose similar emotions on anyone who experiences depression, anxiety or both in tandem, including helplessness, stress, panic and a crippled sense of worth and productivity. Essentially, both anxiety and depression steal your sense of identity, and work to replace your confidence with worry, sadness or a nasty combination of the two.
In addition, depression and anxiety are forever linked by their effects. Both can bring your otherwise positive day to screeching halt, in the process compromising worth and well-being. You’re left feeling tired and facing a life that feels like it’s completely out of control, and completely beyond your control.
Here are a few “fast facts” worth knowing when it comes to the relationship between depression and anxiety:
- Your chance of experiencing depression is much higher if you’re already experiencing anxiety
- The onset of anxiety or depression can trigger the onset of the other, given how closely the shared emotions between the two are linked
- Though not a guarantee, some individuals can be predisposed to anxiety, depression or both
Turning the tide in your fight against anxiety and depression
Now that you understand the relationship between both states, it’s even more important to know that there’s hope for individuals who experience anxiety, depression or both. Learn how to reverse the cyclical effects that these issues can impose, with even a few concrete actions:
1) Seek out the help you know you need.
This is always the first step, and it’s always the hardest step, when it comes to dealing with anxiety and depression. Admitting that you need help is often the most difficult step in the healing process itself, but it’s so critical to your long-term well-being. If you find yourself seriously struggling with anxiety or depression, don’t be afraid to reach out to a certified health professional for the care you need.
2) Don’t be afraid of therapy or medication.
Once you’ve reached out to receive the help you need, you may be directed toward Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – a treatment method that helps you challenge and overcome the very thoughts of self-doubt, worthless and stress brought about by depression and anxiety. You’re also likely to be prescribed medications, which will be recommended and closely monitored by trained behavioral and mental health specialists.
3) Get your heart rate up.
This tip for managing both depression and anxiety is absolutely as simple as it sounds: increase your heart rate via some form of exercise during the day, for a rush of positive chemicals into the brain and body that have you feeling more likely yourself. The length or strain of the workout are not nearly as important as the discipline you impose in working out, and the fact that you’re getting out of your own head and into the active world. Bike around town, walk around the block, take a run through the neighborhood, walk up and down the closest set of stairs, or do whatever you need to in order to increase heart rate. Your first step toward improved wellness is simple as a quick morning, afternoon or evening workout.
4) Find ways to relax.
Everyone has their go-to activities that help them relax. For some individuals, that means curling on the bed, across the couch or in front of the fireplace, armed with a good book and cup of tea or hot chocolate. For others, that means throwing on a pair of headphones and getting down to their favorite song or album. Still others might find relaxation in a drive through the countryside or the city, or through meditation, prayer or focus breathing. It’s most important that you find what helps you to truly relax, and that you pursue those activities (as long as they’re not destructive practices) to establish and maintain a sense of control and peace of mind.
You are more than your depression or anxiety
More than anything else, it’s critically important that you remember one thing through the treatment of your depression or anxiety: you are more than the sum of your challenges. Depression and anxiety are hurdles to be overcome, not badges to be worn. And in accepting the help offered to you from experienced medical professionals, you’ll begin to feel more and more like yourself as you begin to re-establish control over your own emotions. Leverage your new understanding of depression and anxiety into a positive step toward treatment, and you’ll undoubtedly find that despite the best efforts of your challenges, your brightest days are still ahead.