Anxiety and Depression – more than feeling under the weather
The number of Australians who suffer from a mental health condition is on the rise. The most common of these is anxiety, which can affect up to 1 in 3 people at some stage in their life. Following closely behind is depression, the leading psychiatric diagnosis associated with suicide.
A good state of mental health is all about being able to cope with day-to-day life stresses, to work and study to your full potential, and to live your life in a free and satisfying way. Feelings of sadness, tension or irritability are normal from time to time, but when they continue for long periods, sometimes without any reason, they may be part of a more serious health problem. Such illnesses are unlikely to go away on their own, and if left untreated, can have a negative impact on a person’s wellbeing.
Anxiety is more than just feeling nervous or worried. Usually, when a person experiences these feelings in response to a stressful event or situation, the feelings go away once the stressful situation has passed. This is not the case for a person suffering anxiety. Some common types of anxiety include general anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, or social anxiety as well as conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, where anxiety is also present. The signs and symptoms of anxiety are generally:
- Physical (panic attacks, shortness of breath, feeling on edge)
- Behavioural (avoiding situations which cause anxiety),
- Psychological (excessive fear, worry, catastrophic or obsessive thinking)
Although depression may share many symptoms with anxiety, it is not to be confused with anxiety. They are two distinct illnesses with separate causes, symptoms and treatments. Depression is described as feelings of being intensely sad, moody or low for an extended period. Often there may be no single reason for these feelings. Some particular signs of depression include:
- Physical (constant tiredness, sleep problems, headaches, changed appetite)
- Behavioural (lack of concentration, withdrawing from friends and family, not participating in activities that were once enjoyable, substance abuse)
- Emotional (negative thoughts and emotions, low self-esteem, guilt, frustration, indecisiveness).
These lists are by no means exhaustive as the conditions and symptoms differ for each person. Anxiety and depression exist on a spectrum, so some individuals may be able to keep their symptoms in check with a few simple lifestyle changes, whereas others may be in serious danger without medical intervention. If you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms, it is important to seek help from a professional who can assist you. Once diagnosed, a personal action plan should be devised including treatment options and strategies to help you deal with your illness, such as medication or counselling. However, there are many other helpful strategies which can be implemented by anyone at any time:
- Healthy lifestyle – eating well, adequate rest, quitting bad habits, doing enjoyable activities, spending time outdoors, limiting stress
- Mindfulness – living in the ‘present’ moment, practicing meditation
- Relaxation – progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises
- Community support – sharing and learning from others who are experiencing similar illnesses
- Keep a journal – keeping track of symptoms to better understand your condition
- Patience – being kind to yourself and setting realistic goals
For advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and achieve your health goals, speak to our friendly staff at Chemistworks, who are ready to assist you in any way we can.