Getting a depression and anxiety diagnosis can be complicated. Unlike other medical conditions, there’s no blood test or x-ray that can prove you have it.
A lot of people don’t even realise they’re struggling with a mental health issue. They think that what they’re feeling is normal and that everyone else feels the same. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Depression and anxiety are still somewhat stigmatised in society. The minute ill-informed people hear about such conditions, they assume you’re crazy and that you’re a danger to the people around you. So, a lot of people don’t talk about what they’re going through for fear of judgment.
Depression and anxiety defined
Depression is a feeling of pronounced unhappiness and despondency. It causes you to think negative thoughts, lose your self-confidence, and feel helpless about your circumstances. During a depression, a patient cannot see the value of their life, which can lead to suicidal ideation.
For anxiety to qualify as a mental health condition, it needs to go beyond the regular anxiety most people feel. When it becomes paralysing and adversely affects your quality of life, the anxiety has moved beyond what is normal. You feel a crippling fear about the unknown and tend to obsess about it.
Symptoms and treatment of depression
Depression triggers a feeling of listlessness and fatigue. Your sleep and eating patterns change, and you may start experiencing cramps, aches, and pains. A lot of the time, you feel that your memory is failing you, and you become indecisive when faced with choices. Your emotions include hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness. Then you start feeling guilty about feeling that way. People with depression will begin to withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed until they no longer participate at all.
Most people with depression are prescribed medication and therapy. A doctor will prescribe an antidepressant. There are many on the market. All of them have side effects, but they differ from one person to another. Don’t expect the first one your doctor prescribes to work. Sometimes, it takes a bit of time to settle on the right drug.
Your doctor might also prescribe mood stabilisers to work in conjunction with the antidepressants. This will usually happen if they feel the antidepressants aren’t effective by themselves.
Therapy includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps you to adjust your thought and behaviour patterns so that you can deal with the symptoms of your depression. The prevailing opinion is that medicine does 50% of the job, while the therapy does the other 50% to help you to get better.
Symptoms and treatment of anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety include a racing heartbeat, feeling unable to breathe, and tense muscles. After an anxiety episode, you are left feeling exhausted. However, you battle to sleep as well, and when you do get some shuteye, you grind your teeth.
You might also find it hard to focus on something or remember things. You dread the next episode, hoping you can hide it from the people around you. The fear leaves you on edge and feeling irritated.
Your doctor will also prescribe a combination of drugs and therapy for anxiety. The best-known medication is benzodiazepine, which is the active ingredient in medicines like Xanax and Valium. However, there is a risk of dependence, so these drugs should be used as a short-term treatment.
In therapy, you’ll learn to recognise your anxiety triggers. This helps you gain control over your anxiety. You’ll also learn different techniques to manage your anxiety, such as breathing techniques and stress management.
Alternative treatments for depression and anxiety
A lot of people turn to alternative therapies when they have depression, anxiety, or both. These treatments include hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and reflexology. Others turn to a homeopath for advice. Exercise is a good treatment for these conditions, and doing yoga has the extra benefit of being a spiritually uplifting experience.
In recent years, CBD oil products have also gained traction in the alternative medicine market. Cannabinoids come from the cannabis plant family. It is not a psychoactive or mood-altering compound like its better-known counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Scientists are researching its value in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
People with depression and anxiety should always consult their doctor before changing their treatment program. Independently deciding to stop taking their medication can have severe repercussions.