Thus we are forced into a difficult choice—anxiety and depression. If we move forward, as our soul insists, we may be flooded by anxiety. If we do not move forward, we will suffer the depression, the pressing down of the soul’s purpose. In such difficult choice one must choose anxiety, for anxiety at least is a path of potential growth; depression is a stagnation and defeat of life. James Hollis
Anxiety and depression are frequently related. People with anxiety often have symptoms of clinical depression and vice versa. In both cases, the autonomic nervous system goes into overdrive: negative events have a large impact and take over the rational responses. You loose the ability to think straight. You obsess over perceived problems until that’s all you can focus on.
There is no one established way to recover from anxiety, depression and related illnesses. But with appropriate care and support, you can recover. There are also many things you can do to help yourself, including understanding anxiety and depression, managing stress and being aware of situations that might set you back.
What exactly is anxiety? What exactly is depression?
Researchers suggest that what we call anxiety and depression are actually three interrelated processes: physiological, cognitive, and behavioral. We experience the physiological aspects as sensations in our body, the cognitive aspect as worried and/or negative thoughts, and the third aspect involves avoidant behavior.
Understanding your triggers
Some situations can make you more likely to experience episodes of anxiety or depression. Common triggers include family issues, financial problems, health problems and life transitions. Learning to discover and work through your triggers are an essential steps toward recovery.
Increasing your awareness
Begin with reflecting on how and when anxiety and/or depression arises in your life, then record your warning signs related to body sensations (including tracking emotions in your body), worried thoughts, and behaviors (things you do or avoid).
Getting help while taking care of yourself
Finding your way back from anxiety and depression usually involves getting support from your family. A doctor or counsellor can help you to work out the best ways to heal. This may involve psychological therapy and stress reduction skills. Taking care of yourself may take many forms depending on your disposition: talking with other people about how you feel, keeping a diary of your progress, developing a plan to avoid stress, looking at healthier choices, learning to meditate with a mentor or teacher are some of the ways.
Falling back is part of the process
At time you may experience episodes of anxiety and depression that set you off into a fearing cycle: it’s all coming back, but you don’t have to believe everything you think or feel. Learning to identify warning sign by monitoring your mood changes (e.g. sleep changes, feelings of hopelessness) and include activities in your day that you know have a good effect on your mood (e.g. listening to music, visiting friends) is an effective way to work through relapses.
Be kind to yourself
Practice at least one act of kindness toward yourself everyday. Care about your feelings, your memories, and your hurts instead of pushing them away. Struggle creates more struggle so why not trying to accept and care for yourself. To break the cycle of avoidance you can embrace your anxiety and depression with kindness, or at least get help with this process.
Hollis J. (1996). Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places. Toronto: Inner City Books.
Forsyth, J.P. & Eifert, G.H. (2007). The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.
Recovering from depression and anxiety: youthbeyoundblue.com
Siegel, R.D. (2010). The Mindfulness Solution. New York: The Guilford Press.
© 2013 Maria Stella, PhD. All Rights Reserved.