I’m a counselor, right? So I figure it would be good to write something about anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, a trifecta of mental health experiences you’ve probably heard about.
Random Facts About Anxiety
The constant and continually changing worries of people with anxiety disorder are mostly about everyday matters; they can’t shake the feeling that something bad will happen and they will not be prepared. (missing an appointment, losing a job, having an accident) Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S.
Included in anxiety conditions are various phobias like social phobia, agoraphobia and OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. And if you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know those symptoms of heart racing, numbness and tingling in your extremities, short, gasping breaths can send you to the emergency room, thinking you’re having a heart attack! That’s how scary anxiety can be.
As shown on the thermal images of the picture above, the brain’s chemistry is directly affected in anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Is more than just sadness. People with depression may experience a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
A recent study revealed that in general, 300 million people worldwide experience depression. That’s 300l,000,000 – a lot! About 50% have both anxiety and depression.
As in anxiety, the brain’s chemistry is impacted by an overload of adrenaline creating cortisol, the stress hormone. High levels of cortisol can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly, so you definitely want to stop that production as quickly as possible!
Fortunately, depression is treatable. A combination of therapy and antidepressant medication can help ensure recovery. (American Psychological Association).
A serious mental illness in which common emotions become intensely and often unpredictably magnified. Individuals with bipolar disorder can quickly swing from extremes of happiness, energy and clarity to sadness, fatigue and confusion. These shifts can be so devastating that individuals may choose suicide.
All people with bipolar disorder have manic episodes — abnormally elevated or irritable moods that last at least a week and impair functioning. But not all become depressed (WebMD)
Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).
What Can Be Done About These Three?
If things are bad enough, you may need an antidepressant and/or anti-anxiety medication. With bipolar disorder, you generally need to see a psychiatrist to see if you will benefit from a mood stabilizer as well.
Some other helpful things you can do on your own:
· Science agrees that food can be a powerful tool for people dealing with depression and anxiety. The good and bad news: Sugar throughout the day with ice cream and candy needs to be cut way down. And, of course, as we have all heard (but might not heed) the messages of no grains, no dairy, more healthy fats, medium amounts of protein and most importantly, lots of vegetables.
· Exercise is so beneficial that some people have overcome their symptoms by regular working out, running, or walking. If you start feeling anxious, doing a few jumping jacks, or a quick walk around the office or home helps give that extra adrenaline a place to exit!
· Set healthy boundaries – I once had a client with an extreme case of anxiety and depression who began to speak up for herself, told her family and friends no most of the time so she could choose to say yes when she wanted. (See Yes! I Said No!)
· Care enough to confront. Many people avoid confrontation like the plague; as a result, they often stuff anger and resentment so deep it turns into depression. I have a list of 10 guidelines to help you confront positively that you can receive by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Practice gratitude. I believe this is so crucial, it could have gone to the top of the list. Most people automatically look for what’s wrong (a survival mechanism, after all), but that continual sweep of your environment or hearing what’s wrong repeatedly in the media (including social media), will definitely stress you out! I recommend writing down 3 new things you are grateful for each day.