- What causes depression and anxiety?
- What is the difference between anxiety and depression?
- How can you help someone cope with anxiety and depression?
If you are struggling with anxiety and depression, you should know that you are not alone and how you feel is not permanent. Many people overcome their issues on their own by adopting a wellness mindset and embracing the positivity in their lives—part of this process is also knowing when to ask for help. The change you need in your life is closer than you think and learning how to approach your situation is the first step toward feeling better.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health concerns and affect 19.1% of the population. The number of depression cases is not too far behind and amounts to more than 17 million adults in the U.S.
Although looking at the numbers can feel distant and detached from personal cases, they remind us that many people in our lives have suffered from similar issues and were able to overcome them.
While anxiety and depression are separate mental health conditions, they often overlap and feed into one another, creating an unhealthy loop that can affect your professional and personal life.
As someone who may be struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression, you may find yourself asking what tools are available to help you cope with these issues. Are there holistic wellness solutions that will soften their impact on your life?
In this article, our holistic wellness guides explore what it means to have anxiety and depression, and will outline some of the productive steps you can take to calm your emotions and begin your journey to recovery.
What Causes Depression and Anxiety?
While we don’t fully understand the exact causes of depression and anxiety, we do know that they stem from biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. Every person experiences depression and anxiety differently, and the subjective nature of these issues can make it challenging for individuals to feel understood.
However, there are a few common threads in our lives that are linked with increasing our odds of becoming anxious and depressed:
- Alcohol and drug use
- Death of a loved one
- Family history of depression or anxiety
- Major life changes
- Medical issues such as cancer or chronic pain
- Some medications can cause depression or anxiety as a side effect
- Traumatic and stressful events
Biology is thought to play a major role in the development of depression and anxiety. In some cases, research shows slight differences in the brain size of people with clinical depression. The section of the brain known as the hippocampus, which stores our memories, is more pronounced in people who are not depressed. A smaller hippocampus means the body produces less of the chemical serotonin.
Keep in mind that a serotonin deficiency is not thought to be related to intelligence. Serotonin is simply a neurotransmitter that affects how you process emotions. Other studies also show that cortisol, a stress hormone, is higher in people with depression and anxiety. From what we can tell, cortisol is a byproduct and cause of stress.
However, when it comes to brain science, we have a lot more to learn, and nothing is 100% certain. What we do know is that depression and anxiety are easily treatable, either through medications or mindfulness and meditation. Many of the issues you or a loved one may be experiencing can also be resolved with time.
Overcoming negative emotions is challenging but always worth the battle. Life is valuable and leaving your depression and anxiety untreated can have devastating effects on your life and those around you.
One in six adults experiences depression at some point in their lives. Our mental health is complex and we don’t understand yet why some people face challenges and become depressed or anxious while others do not.
As scientists, therapists, and wellness coaches continue researching these conditions, we will eventually create better treatments and improve our understanding of them. One of the things we have learned is the strong correlation between depression and anxiety. Understanding how these mental issues manifest in different ways can help you take a more holistic approach to coping with your emotional struggles.
What Is the Difference Between Anxiety and Depression?
The most significant differences between anxiety and depression are their symptoms. These two separate but related disorders can feel and manifest themselves in entirely different ways, although there is some overlap, and depression can often cause anxiety.
For many of us, depression can feel like:
- Low energy
- Problems concentrating
- A feeling of dread
- Being on edge or cranky
Restlessness and agitation are common in both. Depression often causes us to lose interest in the things we used to love and can even lead to self-destructive behaviors. Anxiety is just as powerful and can compel you to completely change your life by avoiding the triggers that produce discomfort.
Anxiety is not just one thing. In fact, there are a few common types of anxiety that people experience:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (worry about many things)
- Panic Disorder (overwhelming waves of fear with a pounding heart and chest pain)
- Phobias (chronic anxieties about specific objects or places, such as a fear of insects or heights)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (worry about gatherings of people or encountering situations with people)
While doctors consider anxiety and depression chronic mood disorders, we like to classify them as disturbances instead. Reframing your discomfort in this way can be helpful and remind you that your issues are treatable with the right help and can be resolved with time.
When depression occurs alongside anxiety, the fog of discomfort can make it hard to distinguish between the two—however, keep in mind that mental clarity is always around the corner.
For many of us, bouts of depression and anxiety are temporary and may be caused by major life changes, such as the death of a loved one. Other people experience depression or anxiety as a chronic condition and feel sad, lonely, or worried in ways that can make it difficult to function. In both cases, treatment is possible and is often very effective at resolving many of the more uncomfortable symptoms.
About 60% of people with anxiety also have depression. While you can feel one or both for short periods, they can become chronic and recurring.
What Can I Do to Help with Anxiety and Depression?
There are many paths you can take to overcome your struggles with anxiety or depression. Whether you’re dealing with these issues on your own or have a support network that is helping you through them, integrating wellness strategies will not only help you keep your head above water but give you the tools to integrate long term lifestyle changes for a happy and healthy life.
When you’re faced with these difficult moments, just remember that support is always close by, no matter how challenging things get.
As holistic wellness experts, the first thing we like to acknowledge is that there are many amazing support services that help individuals who are considering self-harm. Local, regional, and national suicide prevention hotlines are maintained 24/7/365 and cover most areas of the country.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also now available by calling “988.” Like the 911 system, this new phone system links expert first responders to people in crisis.
Similar resources include:
- Text “TALK” to 741-741 to reach the crisis text line
- Text “838255” for veteran help and support
- Call SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Go to your local E.R. or walk-in clinic
- Call 911
Even if you don’t need to use them, keeping these emergency resources in the back of your mind can provide a baseline reassurance as you navigate your emotions.
While your depression or anxiety may feel out of your control, just remember that you have the power to guide your journey to recovery. Your decisions matter and will influence how you feel more than you might think.
To help you along the way, our holistic wellness experts have compiled several practices that we recommend to patients who are dealing with anxiety and depression.
- Stay calm and don’t panic—life is challenging, just remember that hills are there to be climbed and overcome
- Be kind to yourself and others—don’t be too harsh on yourself and don’t let your emotions turn into a bitterness towards others
- Practice patience and active listening—be present within yourself by listening to what your body needs (meditation, breathing exercises, and long walks can help accomplish this)
- Offer to help those around you—being around others will distract from your pain and helping someone you care about can make you feel better about yourself
- Never hesitate to ask for emotional support—friends and family are there for you and can provide the support you need to work through your emotions
- Maintain a routine—keeping a regular schedule will help establish a much-needed baseline of normalcy and will keep your life in order
- Stay positive—remember that recovery is always possible and maintaining hope is the key to overcoming your concerns
- Pursue activities that you love—make time to do things that you enjoy, no matter how small or trivial they may seem
- Trust the process and look at the bigger picture—small acts may not help you feel better in the moment but will benefit you over time
- Exercise—physical activity can release endorphins in your brain, boosting your mood
Above all, we recommend that you try to avoid judgment—whether for yourself or others—and remember that things will eventually change for the better. How you feel is temporary and we can often be misled by our minds to believe things about ourselves or how others view us that are not true.
Recognizing your struggles is the first step toward growth and improvement.
As someone struggling with anxiety and depression, these approaches are good starting points that can help you begin to cope with anxiety and depression. Using these approaches, establish a baseline of comfort and work up from there. When you are ready to seek help, clear a path for yourself so can access the support you need.
At Poppy Life Care, our wellness experts offer holistic solutions for anxiety and depression that help patients achieve balance in their lives and overcome the struggles that weigh many of us down.
Through guided therapy, we help patients develop the skills and inner strength to cope with life’s complex challenges. Our wellness guides also work closely with patients and their support networks to foster and promote behavioral changes that are clinically shown to improve symptoms.
Speak with one of our wellness experts today if you or your loved one is struggling with depression or anxiety. We’re here to help.