Understanding Anxiety And Depression

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Most of us are not spared from experiencing heartache, losing a job, or grieving from the death of a loved one. These life experiences are some of the causes of anxiety and depression. But what is the difference between the two?

Depression vs. Anxiety

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Depression and anxiety are two of the most prevalent mental health concerns in the world today. They can happen together, but they are actually not the same. Anxiety disorders may come in the form of panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and other specific phobias. Depression, on the other hand, is a state of being down, sad, discouraged, and hopeless. People who are anxious are often worried that something bad is about to happen. They try to keep away from things that they think might cause future problems for them. People who suffer from depression are different in that they think things will never go right. They are pessimistic and often have suicidal thoughts.

According to Karin Draper, LMFT, “Anxiety can often spur on depression, as an anxiety-saturated view of the world and life can lead to feelings of hopelessness.” Anxiety may lead to depression, as someone with a severe anxiety disorder may end up feeling hopeless and unmotivated. Correspondingly, many people who have depression have had a history of anxiety in the past. Statistics have not shown that one disorder can cause the other, but nearly half of those diagnosed with anxiety disorders are also diagnosed with depression.

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Treatment and Cure

Drug Options

Fortunately, both depression and anxiety can be treated, separately or together. Various ways have been found to alleviate and even cure the symptoms of these disorders. Drugs like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are some of the latest medicines that are effective in treating depression. Cymbalta and Effexor are types of Selective Serotonin & Norepinephrine Inhibitors that also affect serotonin receptors. Other cases require a combination of two antidepressants such as lithium and Seroquel. One must remember, though, not to abruptly stop these medications as this may cause headache, dizziness and ultimately a recurrence of the symptoms.

Some antidepressants and SSRIs have also been found to treat anxiety disorders effectively. Anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Ativan have a greater risk of causing addiction or tolerance and are not recommended for long-term use. Antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs are also sometimes used to treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Natural Remedies

Alternatively, there are various non-drug therapies that are safe and effective in treating anxiety and depression. Chamomile, lemon, lavender, and Valerian are powerful herbs that produce calming effects. Also, according to Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC, “Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines.” The practice of mind and body techniques such as meditation and yoga encourage relaxation and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Regular exercise has also proven to decrease levels of tension in the body, resulting in improved sleep and self-esteem. Persons with depression and anxiety are also advised to eat a balanced diet, including drinking less caffeine and avoiding nicotine and alcohol. Too much coffee increases blood pressure and may possibly lead to panic attacks. Similarly, smoking and drinking may only worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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Ultimately, there is a great opportunity of being completely cured of depression and anxiety. The paramount requirement is one’s commitment to stick to the routine of staying healthy and living positively. It may take time but the results are truly worth it. Just remember what Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist used to say “the worst thing we can do is say to ourselves, ‘I can’t handle it,’ while the best thing we can say is, ‘I may not like it, but I can handle it,”